Preaching to Pre-teens

Today I went back to junior high Home Ec class. They don’t call it that anymore. Now it’s called FACS. I have no idea what that stands for. Feeding All Children Sugar? So far they’ve made cookies, two different kinds and a smoothie with no greens. I really don’t know what it stands for but the classrooms look exactly like you remember!

Image result for home ec class


I had to go in and talk about my “career”. I was after the Electrician. I didn’t plan any remarks, as a kind of test for myself. It’s been a while since I spoke in front of any kind of group. My youngest has been texting me all week trying to find out what I was going to say.

Don’t embarrass me

Who is this?


I’m just going to talk about my job

What are you going to say?

I don’t know. Leave me alone to think about it.

No talking about me!!

I’ll take that into consideration.

So when I started I said, “JoJo is worried about what I’m going to say, so I’ll talk about her first. She was born in Pittsburgh, PA…”

Her head drops to her desk.

I continue, “I have a brief slide show.” Kids cheer and her teacher stands up.


“Just kidding, I don’t have a slide show.” I laugh.

I give them a brief overview of my ‘career’ which is mostly “housewife”, turns out. A job I’m not terribly good at. As I looked around at their faces I thought about what I want Jo to know. I told them my story, grew up in a small town, just wanted to leave. I mentioned graduating high school, living in New York, traveling, spending too much time in college running up debt and then not graduating. I used words like intention and resillience. I talked about Chicago (don’t roll your eyes!). Told them about Jo’s part, her belief, her mindset. How much I learned from her optimism and flexibility. They’re going to need every bit they can muster, I told them. College isn’t for everyone, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a career for you. There are as many paths to success as stars in the sky. Get up when you’ve been knocked down. Standing where you are until you’re steady, until you see the next step. I admitted I was in college for three years before I even had a clue what I wanted to do. I promised them they didn’t have to know everything now. They just need to keep going.

I only had fifteen minutes. At the end I explained how I wanted to bring each of them a pen and pocket notebook to write their dreams in, but Jojo wanted donuts.

In case you wonder, donuts still trump having to pick up a pencil for any reason in 6th grade.




0 thoughts on “Preaching to Pre-teens”

  1. So true. So many paths. In grade 6 my older son was really worried because it seemed that everyone “knew” what they were going to do! You’re supposed to try things out in high school and beyond. Now he’s in a career that he loves and probably would not have thought of if he had had to decide then.

  2. You did great! Growing up in the Philippines, I remember learning how to gut a fish and then making peanut brittle from peanuts harvested from our school garden.

    My kid is still in third grade and I dread the day I talk about writing kissing books!

      1. When my kid was taking the bus to school up until last week, they get extra “dollars” when they bring a book to read on the way there and back and he tried bringing one of my books with him! I told him my books are for older people, not kids, but he got extra points for supporting his Mommy!

          1. They’ve already asked if I could talk to the class about my books until they found out they were kissing books and promptly withdrew their invitation 😆

          2. Now that’s rather negative of them, you are deeply involved in a creative process, plus all the stuff you know about the promoting the work, I would have thought you would have been perfect, I doubt the car mechanic brought in an engine!

          3. They told me they thought I wrote children’s books and if that was the case, then sure. I bet if I told them I was a mystery author or someone who wrote any other genre but romance, it would have been okay. Huge stigma when it comes to romance still.

          4. Something I feel should be rectified, after all what, may I ask, did Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell or even the Brontes write if not romances?
            I loathe intellectual snobbery.

          5. Exactly! That’s why the ebook and ereader liberated romance completely. No one can judge a cover they can’t see!

          6. The people who have my extra devices know what’s on the 4K books I have in my kindle app, most of them under “research.” 😂😂😂

          7. I think they liked what I had to say only slightly less than the doughnuts. Even though the kids don’t want you to talk about them, I think they love hearing stories about each other. It was fun.

  3. I think all we did in the cooking part of home ec was bake things and dishes with eggs. Although it was a useful class, I think. Anyway — life happens. Even people who make really good plans and follow them with discipline end up getting tossed up on their asses. in sixth grade I think all you can say that’s of use is keep your eyes open and be curious about everything that interests you, you never know when what you learn could turn out to be useful.

      1. I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about this — teaching a lot of beginning nurses this term and they are just not curious, and I wonder how that is going to work out for them professionally in terms of assisting in patient care.

          1. A lot of this crowd will wash out — they have to have a certain GPA in all their courses and they just don’t have the self discipline (at least at this point in their lives). Which doesn’t mean they won’t eventually be nurses but they’ll be excluded from this particular BSN program. But the capacity to be interested in something is a really important professional quality. I’m never entirely sure how to turn it on — it seems to happen more accidentally than anything else.

          2. Your mind has to be open enough to wonder about something. If it’s constantly filled with Facebook or Instagram or your phone or whatever I think you just don’t have the extra capacity it takes to really be curious.

  4. I’m very old, even at school in those days a girls working life was expected to halt at marriage, possibly restarting when children were in senior school (Only for pin money of course🙄) Girls did needlework and cookery, boys woodwork and metalwork. Oddly we could both do typing?
    In the 5th form we had to choose to do Arts or Sciences, and that was it, at no point would the two ever meet again. Tells you a lot about repressive nature of study of both subjects, and why changes were so desperately needed.
    My own kids are so different, but so alike, Lucy practically had a 5 year plan from birth, Alex winged it. Neither are doing what I would have expected, but life is like that, and may it be so. Boredom is a killer.

    1. I have a daughter that is excelling in wood and metal work, lol. it cracks me up. I was so terrible at it. Sometimes I’m pretty surprised at how little school has changed since I was there in the seventies.

  5. Here it’s still not right, now everything is about testing, we seem to be just teaching kids to pass tests. If anything the world shrunk by the required proscritive language. There seems no place for imagination and insight.

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