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Middle school education--for mom

When my daughter started middle school, the principal gave me—and all of her classmates' parents--two wise words of advice. "Stay away." "Middle-schoolers want to know you're there for them, but they don't want to see you at the classroom door waving," he explained. So, after years of being the Class Mom and chaperoning every field trip since nursery school, I begrudgingly accepted my walking papers. Then last week, I got an urgent e-mail from her school, begging for field trip chaperones. It had been three years since I'd been on the bus with the kids, but after asking my daughter's permission, I volunteered. (Before approving my request, she made me promise not to embarrass her.) The trip turned out to be an educational one—for me. Collectively, middle school students are surprisingly sophisticated (although one-on-one, they still grunt and give one-word answers). They are also very funny. While examining religious works in the Renaissance Room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one boy blurted out, "Boy, Jesus was ripped!" So for all you parents currently chaperoning your preschoolers and grade-schoolers, be warned: middle-schoolers are a much tougher crowd. Here are nine things you need to know in case you ever accompany your kid's middle-school class. 1. Choose your clothes carefully. Anything considered even slightly weird/revealing/ugly will reflect on your child. 2. Don't sit anywhere near your child on the bus. Otherwise a geeky reputation will ensue. 3. Actually, don't sit near any kid--or teacher for that matter. Take your place only near another parent. 4. Boys will giggle when passing a naked statue. Girls just avert their eyes and walk faster. 5. "100 Bottles of Beer On the Wall" is a perfectly acceptable song to sing on the bus. 6. So are any Bar Mitzvah blessings. 7. Don't utter a word to the boy your daughter likes. Don't even say hello. She will never forgive you. 8. Bring a big purse. Someone is bound to be carrying some kind of contraband (iPhone, iPod, gum). 9. Don't joke around with the kids. They know how old you are and no matter how funny your comments are, you're still old.

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