Sixth Grade PTSD

Today is one of the worst days of the year for me: the first day of school. No, not school for me, sillies. For my kids.

I know, I know. It’s dumb. I get all worked up, worrying about them all day. Will they get to eat lunch with a friend? Will their teachers like them? Will they be teased/bullied/left out?

And this year I have a sixth grader, so my fears are intensified. My memories of sixth grade are… painful. Yes, that’s a word that fits. But not painful in the “wincing when I think about my clothing choices back then” way. More like “throwing up in my mouth when I even hear the words ‘sixth grade’ and curling into the fetal position for a week” way.

Yes, Friends. THAT bad. I had to transfer out of one school and into another one in the middle of February in sixth grade, when my mother finally figured out just how psychologically disturbed I was getting.  (Of course, when we had that talk, she switched me to my new school in two days. And those two days were hooky days, where we went shopping and to movies. Good mom, right?)

Anyway, all this got me to thinking — why in the name of all that’s holy do I write middle grade? Because, seriously, I have to put myself in the head space of an 11 year-old kid every freaking day!!! I have to remember exactly what that was like, and recreate it on the page, and then try to solve the problems of my poor, tortured characters. I’m trapped, mentally, in sixth grade.

I think I have PTSD. Sixth grade PTSD, to be exact.

Anyone else out there conducting their own self-therapy regimen through your writing? Maybe your freshman year at high school was the one. Think about it — are all your characters 14/15 years old? Or am I the only one who seems to be stuck in the WWI Foxhole Year of My Youth?

On a side note, it is rather satisfying to make money off all that pain. So there is that.

Thoughts? Sympathy? Horrible stories about swirlies and sadistic teachers? (FYI, I’m going to be writing a book in November/December set in a demon-infested sixth grade where I poorly veil and only ever-so-slightly change the names of all the teachers and kids who tortured me. Maybe then I’ll have peace. 🙂 )


Posted in Children's Fiction, Family News, Miscellaneous on 08/22/2011 02:28 pm


  1. Rebecca Behrens

    A writer-friend was telling me that in her children’s lit MFA program, someone asked the writers to imagine composing a letter to their younger self whenever that self needed it the most. Those who wrote to a 14-17 year old self? Only YA writers. 9-14? The MG peeps. Younger than 9? The picture-book authors. Her theory is we all gravitate toward writing for the age at which we want to give ourselves a big hug.
    Hope your kids have good first days!


    • Nikki Loftin

      Rebecca – what an interesting exercise! I sure needed a big hug — and probably an antidepressant — when I was in sixth grade. 😉 Hope your year goes well, too!


  2. Laura Jennings

    Middle grade did suck. Worse than high school in my opinion. My 7th grade year, I lost the best friend I’d been friends with since 2nd grade. I also remember being in a very small gym class with 6 other girls who promptly formed a circle that cut me out, and suffered abuse at their hands every day. I remember them yelling insults at me on the basketball court, and I turned to the coach and said, “Are you listening to this?” She was like “Oh. What?”
    But then ninth grade everything got better! That’s when I got my back surgery! That’s right. Ninth grade back surgery was better than 7th and 8th grade, beetches!


    • Nikki Loftin

      Dying laughing. I bet you always had that attitude, didn’t you? Good. It’ll see you through a lot.


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