I would rather my kid have a scoliotic back for the rest of his life from carrying heavy textbooks as a tween than for him to have to carry the internal shame of having been the kid with the rolling backpack, because that shit is way heavier. Once I saw a kid with a rolling backpack fall head-first down a flight of stairs, and let me tell you, that backpack was close to lethal when it landed on top of him. I’ll never forget the tableau of the poor guy as he lay in a crumpled heap at the foot of the stairs, his cuffed sweatpants exposing his skinny ankles in all of their tube-sock-clad glory, the fallen backpack open next to him with papers falling out. This truly depressing sight crystallized my opinion that the rolling backpack is more a form of cruel and unusual punishment than a helpful tool to prevent your child from slipping a disc.
When I was in tenth grade, I became consumed with the idea that I looked sickly all the time. My skin had always been vaguely yellow, like an unripe banana or a gender-neutral nursery, but for some reason, the minute I hit 15 I decided that I looked like Tiny Tim (both the Dickens character and the ukulele-playing weirdo).
What, I wondered, could I do to make myself look healthier? I tried self-tanning; it made me the color of a satsuma. I tried powder blush – that didn’t do much to help. So I began to carry a little jar of incredibly heavily pigmented hot pink cream blush around with me and took to applying it compulsively to both cheeks every hour or so. I was under the impression that I looked banging – that is, until the day our yearbook photos were scheduled to be taken.
I had spent a good twenty minutes in the basement bathroom of my school applying and reapplying my trusty blush until I was satisfied that I looked both fresh and sophisticated. I emerged into the sunlight to have my photo taken, and when one of my classmates saw me, she audibly gasped. “Oh my GOD, are you okay? Your face is, like, NEON!” Just the words you want to hear right before you’re photographed for a yearbook that everyone in your school will have for the rest of their lives.
Retrospectively, she was right. I look back at old photos now and my cheeks are so pink in them that it looks like someone had thrown hydrochloric acid in my face a month earlier. Aren’t you glad that you never have to be a teenager again?