Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


When I was a Boy

When I was thirteen months old, my mother gave birth to a little girl. My new sister was named Mary Elizabeth, but everybody called her Molly. She was born early and had problems with her lungs so she had to stay in the hospital for a few weeks. But she got better and came home.

One evening I could hear her from her crib, and I told my mother, "Baby's crying." Molly was having problems breathing and my mother called my father who came home and rushed her to the doctor. Molly died that evening.

My parents decided that I was too young to go to the wake or the funeral and nobody knew what to say to me about what had happened so nobody said anything about it.

It wasn't until I was much older that I heard about my sister Molly. Her death has had a big impact and I continue to miss her.


My Turn to Share

What’s some stuff not everyone knows about me? Let’s see. For some reason, people usually express surprise when I tell them I was born in Vancouver, Canada. (That’s me in the picture with two of my “buddies” from the old days.) My family lived in White Rock, a quiet seaside community just north of the American border, until my father was transferred to Seattle when I was eight years old.

That’s not much of a revelation, though. So what else can I share? Well, I used to play saxophone in elementary and junior high. I was first chair in the stage band. I say this not to brag but to point out the reason why: practice. I had weekly private lessons and something my teacher once said has always stuck with me: “If I skip practice for a day, I can notice it. If I skip for two days, my audience can notice.” I followed this mantra to become a better saxophone player, and in the many years since then I have used it as a concise reminder of the value of diligence.

On a more embarrassing note, I’ll share a cautionary tale from my freshman year of high school. On the first day of school my English teacher told us to write a short paragraph about our favorite movie, television show, or book. Rather than applying myself or giving any effort at all, I goofed around gabbing with a buddy until five minutes before the end of class, at which point I dashed off a few sentences about the latest movie I’d seen. The next day, the teacher read off a list of names including my own. The chosen ones were escorted down the hall to a class for remedial writing instruction. As soon as I sat down and my new teacher asked us to read a sentence and figure out what was wrong with the first letter in the first word (it wasn’t capitalized), I knew I had screwed up royally this time. I immediately apologized and asked to return to my original class, but I hadn’t figured on how many times my new teacher had heard the line, “I don’t belong in this class.” So it took a week of pleading – “I’m sorry! I’m a goofball! I didn’t take the assignment seriously! Let me write another essay and prove it to you – pleeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaase!” – before the teacher finally relented and allowed me to remedy my mistake.

Thank goodness my parents never found out. Not to mention my saxophone teacher!


Timid Girl 2

As the youngest of three, I was definitely babied. I was pretty fearless at home, but once I left the safety of my family, I was a very timid child. I remember that a high school teacher commented that she had never heard my voice - which made me even more embarrassed and shy. It didn't help that I was taller than most everyone, especially the boys. I have no idea exactly when that shyness ended (I know that it still exists deep inside), but when it finally came time to make my own way in the world, I had to speak up for myself. My first time speaking in front of an audience when I was in my 30's was a huge flop, but surprisingly the world didn't end. When I subbed, I was constantly "on stage" and I came to enjoy the give and take with the students. Now I can speak to auditoriums of students with very little fear. I guess it proves that you can change your life, or maybe it shows that once you are able or allowed to exert some control in your own life, you can feel less fearful.