I guess there’s no stage in life that one would call particularly easy, but seventh grade really seems to be a bear. I remember it being pretty rough for me, and this past year has been one of change (good and bad) and challenge for my son as well. The good thing, the constant thing, is that we have the horses. They give us so much, both when times are good and when they are not so good.
When I think back to my own middle school experience, I cringe. Middle school was the height of my awkward years. Think two rows of teeth (my baby teeth hadn’t fallen out but my adult teeth had come in) combined with really thick coke bottle glasses, topped off with a really bad perm. Oh, and I was 5’6″ and had really big boobs (36DDD). Basically, Mr. Magoo crossed with Jaws crossed with Jane Russell’s body Weird Al Yankovic’s hair. Yeah, I know, NIGHTMARE!!!
I spent hours at the barn where I took lessons, crying into my favorite horse’s manes. It’s a miracle poor Lazy and Andy didn’t develop rain rot from all the dampness I subjected them to. Bless their hearts, their company and silent approval is what got me through those gawdawful years.
My son did not inherit my crappy eyesight or teeth (many thanks to the hubby’s gene pool!) but is certainly having his own rough times finding his place in the middle school world. The other day I picked him up and my heart broke as I saw him walk out of the school, alone, while others in his class spilled out in groups. I asked him what was going on with his friends (he’s got a few really good ones, but I like to touch base now and then about the larger picture) and he burst out with, “I have none! Nobody likes me!” Thus started a very long conversation, fraught with emotion on both sides.
Thankfully it was a barn night. By the time we’d managed to fight through rush hour traffic we were both almost vibrating with tension. My daughter bustled off to her pony’s stall, and Noah and I walked over to get my mare.
Sugar was pressed up against the stall door, and as soon as we opened it she began frantically licking us. She’s a licker, kind of an equine version of a Golden Retriever, but this time she was almost frenetic in her efforts. Her big head swiveled from me to my son, then back again, as she determinedly slobbered us from stem to stern.
She used her head to pull my son in to her chest, cradling him in the curve of her neck as she focused her efforts on me. After a few minutes, she decided she’d done all she could with me, pushed Noah out so she could reach him, and pulled me in to the curve of her neck. She then set about licking my son.
Sugar groomed us for about 15 minutes, refusing to let us move away or stop her, until we were both helpless with laughter. Our hair was sticking straight up, we had green slobber all over our faces and arms, and our shirts had been pulled out of our jeans. We looked a mess, but we were both smiling and relaxed for the first time in hours. Finally she stopped, looked us over and sighed heavily, clearly exhausted but satisfied with her efforts. She knew she’d done her job and her people were now back to normal.
Noah and I pulled Sug out of her stall and set about returning the favor, scratching her in all her favorite places, grooming her, and then massaging her. Noah took her out for a bit of a graze while I coached Soph for a bit, and when I went to check on them I heard him chatting quietly to her. I don’t know what he said, or how she answered him. All I know is that when I drove home that night my son was smiling, relaxed and happy. No doubt there will be other rough moments in the coming years. I’m just so thankful we have Sug to help us through them.