I rolled to a stop at the town center’s main intersection.

I saw them cascading down the sidewalk. A group of yellow, red, blue, green shirted middle schoolers – boys and girls – undulating along the way middle schoolers are wont to do. Laughing in a heightened style declaring their rights and demands to be noticed and affirmed.

There is some quality magnificently alive, certain and vulnerable about middle schoolers. Something that identifies them right away – at once distinct from high schoolers. They exude a freedom to be extroverted with an urgent underlying desire to be thoroughly and utterly accepted by their group.

And thus come their moments of creative decision-making notably distinct to middle schoolers. One peels off the sidewalk into the street, several feet from the allocated crosswalk. Others follow suit in varying degrees of authority and entitlement. But eventually they all go – like a less than uniform V of geese, following and upholding the initiator’s assuredness and declamatory intentions, no matter the consequences.

And I’m reminded of another place and time.

My hometown when I was in what would now be a middle school grade – sixth. A group of friends and I were walking home from a Saturday morning high school football game. I had the bright idea of linking arms across the street to keep cars from passing – because we could. Satisfyingly – traffic slowed. One most likely highly frustrated driver leapt from his Volkswagen Bug broadcasting, “I’m an off duty police officer…” at which point we all relinquished our linkages and tore off into the woods – each for themselves. Perhaps that’s a trait not only particular to middle schoolers.