7th Grade Handshake

Context: Informant is a student in Colorado. The informant along with their peers are in 7th grade. The handshake is often used as a greeting, but also a sort of game to play in between passing periods and during recess. The school includes Kindergarten-8th graders.

Handshake: Two videos of the handshake has been attached to this post. Both videos show the handshake from a first person perspective, performing the handshake with a friend. Although the friend changes between the two videos, the handshake remains the same.

Background Information: The informant says they learned the handshake from their peer in 7th grade. The peer says they learned the handshake from their sibling in 8th grade. The informant states that the 7th graders found out that the 8th graders had been doing this handshake, and have henceforth learned and performed it for themselves. The informant has also stated that knowing the handshake, and being able to successfully perform the handshake, makes the individual ‘cool’ in the eyes of their 7th-grade peers.

Thoughts: It’s always interesting to see how children perform folklore. I think it is normal for kids to try to emulate the kids older than them, as well. In an effort to be more ‘grown-up’, they are trying to emulate the older kids. Furthermore, by acting like an 8th grader, a kid is therefore ‘cool’. 7th grade is an interesting transitional period. They are about to be 8th-graders, which will make them the oldest grade at their school. At the same time, the rest of the school being younger means that they are still at a ‘children’s’ school. After 8th grade, they will be freshmen in high school, where the roles will be reversed. It is a crucial moment for these kids to begin their transition into adulthood. They recognize this, but are unable to truly become adults. Therefore, they have tried to define themselves as ‘mature’ through the only means they know how- childish ones. By playing into the game of the 8th grader’s handshake, they are defining themselves as adults in truly childish ways.