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It’s not as easy as it looks to be an 8th grader these days. I ride the crowded bus to school, chatting with my friends, wishing the bus would wait just a bit longer before pulling into the school parking lot to start my day filled with classes taught in English and Spanish.

I have lunch with all my friends, probably the best part of our day, at 11:30. We eat leftover pizza and PB&Js, gossip about friends starting relationships, teachers’ funny outfits, and who’s going to the high school football game on Friday…then, before I know it, the bell rings and it’s time to ride the bus home and get ready for lacrosse practice!

I grab a Hot Pocket, say Hi to my cats, and hop in the car with my mom. And parents, let me let you in on a secret- when I haven’t done my chores or I got a bad grade in Science class, getting in to the car with my mom is terrifying. My mom has this magic ability to turn an awesome Lady Gaga sing-along with the radio into a serious heart-to-heart in less than 2 seconds.

I know that time alone with my mom is important for me to know she cares about what’s going on in my life. The other day when I asked to go to a birthday party at my friend’s house, she reminded me that my older siblings couldn’t stay out past 10 p.m., as nothing worthwhile happens after that hour. I know my mom loves me and cares about my safety- she wants me to believe I can be a leader and make good choices. We’ve even gone to Asklistenlearn.com together to take the pledge to say “no” to underage drinking.

I’m pretty sure one day when I’m getting into a great college I’ll be happy those scary heart-to-heart car rides kept me in line…my family always says, “He who makes the fewest mistakes wins!”

Brooke Allen

Carl Sandburg Middle School

Alexandria, VA