Seventh and eighth grade are rife with drama. Young boys and girls budding into young men and women – wanting to be all grown up. Gymboree is all packed away – no more Baby Gap. Disney is passé and, suddenly, you realize most movies aren’t what they used to be. However, it’s the relationships that rule the day – and the emotions.
One son was particularly dazzled during this period of angst. However, the drama would not be blinded by . . . dazzle. That’s the best word for it: brighter than sparkle, deeper than a crush. Entranced, fascinated, stupefied—all of which ultimately leads into perplexed, staggered, astounded, confused . . . because they’re cakes!
Let me explain it the way I explained it to my son, his friends, and, yes, all those wonderful girls fluttering around the soccer fields, the football fields, and, even church.
You’re a cake. She’s a cake.
As you mix the cake – add the eggs, flour, butter, sugar, cocoa et al, you are filled, consumed with tremendous expectations for the cake. You can imagine what it tastes like, looks like, and how it makes you feel.
You have appropriate expectations of your relationship with that cake. It should have 2 to 3 layers. It should come out of the oven the edges slightly pull away from the sides, determining the structure’s firmness. The toothpick test proves the inside isn’t uncooked. If you lightly push into the cake’s center, the cake immediately springs back to its pre-pushed shape. These are tests for doneness. Behavior that proves it is able to fulfill your expectations.
If the cake is done, it is satisfying – yummy! Fulfilling!
However, if you take the cake out of the oven too early, it is frustrating, disappointing, and a little bit yucky.
That’s how a relationship is in the 7th and 8th grade . Seventh and Eight graders aren’t “done” yet. They aren’t ready for the relationships they have expectations for. They’re still cooking, getting ready, not done yet. They need to be firmer in their character, more resilient in their response to pressure. As a result, a relationship during that time period reeks, oozes, whines, and yells frustration, disappointment, leaving a bad taste about relationships.
When my son would come home, complaining about the drama, I’d say, “What did you expect? She’s a cake. You’re a cake. Wait a while. Neither of you are ready for a relationship yet! Just like that cake isn’t ready to come out of the oven before the required cook time. You’re still cooking!
The visual message allows them humor, to receive the message in a non-threatening way. It also allows them to realize that these early broken relationships aren’t a result of not being pretty or handsome enough, smart or witty enough, or even cool enough. It is not because they lack something dazzling. Rather, it is just because the internal timer has not buzzed, “You’re Done!”
Of course, the girls liked to tease my son, “You’re such a cake.” I bet they realized they were cakes, too!