Things I Learned Interviewing an 11 Year Old

Entering middle school is a big step for every kid. You’re the same age, but suddenly everything feels different. For one sixth grader, Faith, her life has totally changed. Faith is my best friend’s younger sister, so when I had an assignment for Terrance’s class The Good Life to interview someone, I knew she would be the best person.

Faith is a really special kid. She is extremely smart and is more wise than any kid I’ve ever met. She loves baking for her family and making slime. She has anxiety and ADHD pretty bad, with an emphasis on sensory overloads. However, what I think is really interesting about Faith is that when her parents and doctor suggested she went on medication, she said no. Faith’s parents giving her that freedom to decide how she wanted to keep her issues under control made her feel like her own autonomous person.

When I started to interview Faith, the whole thing only took about 20 minutes, I noticed that so much of her self worth comes from others. She loves making food for people so she can see them try it and like it. When I asked what she looks for in a friend, she said she looks for approval. Her family, friends, and community are extremely important to her. This is something I feel is vital for someone at that stage. When I first started to analyze her answers to my questions, I was upset that she placed so much of her own self esteem into the hands of the people around her. But, when I started thinking about how I felt about myself at that age I realized how normal it is.

Sixth grade is an influential age. After all, people don’t just hate middle school for nothing. When you’re trying to learn about yourself and who you are, the influence of the people around you is really important. The things your parents taught you when you were a kid are suddenly replaced with the things you see in media, or from peers at school. Of course you would want that approval from your friends.

Another reason I think Mercy feels like she needs so much approval is because she is extremely driven by love. I’ve never seen her being rude or mean to anyone in the three years I’ve known her. When she does something bad, she immediately apologizes in a sincere way, without even having to be asked by anyone. I think her family is a big reason for this, they always tell her that kindness is the most important thing you can possess, and that it’s something no one can ever take away from you. This is something she told me in my interview with her when I asked what is the one thing you could tell everyone in the world if you had the chance. Even though kindness is a cliche answer, it seemed genuine and real coming from her.

I think the main thing I learned from interviewing Mercy is that kids don’t get enough credit. Their minds work in intricate ways, and their thoughts are far more complex than I would have thought. Even in the simplest statements, there is so much to read into about what that says about them. There is so much to learn, and I think narrowing down the people you allow yourself to learn from is pointless.

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