mentoring

he is in awe of my jump rope skills

i can go criss-cross and backwards

doesn’t matter

i want to tell him

you can’t put that on a resume

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Nasty Nancy

Nancy was a normal little girl

Who liked normal little girl things

Playing with dollies, running outside

Doing her hair, swinging on swings

But Nancy had a problem

Quite a big one too

She had a fear of nail clippers

And so her nails grew

They grew and grew and grew

Until they reached her knees

Her parents begged her to let them cut them

“Just let us clip them, Nancy, please!”

But Nancy simply shook her head

And went off to swing outside

But she no longer could grip the swings

She found to her surprise

Every day her nails grew

And grew and grew some more

Until those nasty nails

Could almost touch the floor!

But Nancy still refused to cut them

And slowly they turned brown

They curled around in spirals

Dragging noisily on the ground

Her friends had long left her

Nasty Nancy was now her name

And her gross, dirty, long fingernails

Became her claim to fame

She could no longer leave the house

They didn’t fit through the door

Or take a shower, or read a book

Or do anything but lay on the floor

She became a couch potato

And her fingernails started to rot

Until one day, she moved her hands

And her fingernails all fell off

A Simpler Time

 

I remember a simpler time

Sweet like plump, purple grapes

When there were large trees to climb

And silver shiny bells to chime

And connect-the-dot-stars that make different shapes

When flowers grew just to be smelled

And feet were meant to get muddy

When it was ok just to be held

When words were made just to be yelled

And cheeks were just naturally ruddy

I remember the quiet hush

Thick and soft like honey

How the wind would rush

And the creek would gush

And the sky was always sunny

I remember when hands were there just to be shook

And hair just to be tugged

Legs to be dipped in the babbling brook

And emotions to be read just in one look

And when people – people were just made to be hugged

Friendship

Those days I drenched my thoughts in

Laughter, pinky promises

Unbrushed hair

Classroom whispers

And truths or dares

Like images on strips of film

Hook them up and crank the wheel

And through the static and fading memory –

I see you

Running alongside me

Make-believe and play-pretend

Magic flowing through our veins

Your messy ponytail –

Ideas and spells intertwined in the tangles

Your crooked smile –

Triumph and innocence stained on your teeth

Your dirty feet –

Freedom caked along your heel and squished in between your toes

And I’m right next to you

With laughter and adventure and trust

I need you

To save me from the boiling lava below my swing set

You need me

To hold your dolly while you use the bathroom

I need you

Like you need me

As real as grilled cheese and picnic blankets

Superheroes and bad guys

As the film reel comes to an end

I realize

Maybe our teeth are straight

And our toes are painted

And our hair is brushed

But inside my heart

Among the trees and the wind

You will always be

Running alongside me

Bunk Beds and Barbie Dolls

When I was six years old, I got a bunk bed in my room. My sister had just turned four and was moving into my room. I was so excited, because since I was the older child, I got the top bunk. There was even a sticker that said DO NOT REMOVE in big letters and underneath the letters it read: Children under the age of six are not allowed on the upper bunk. I made sure to rub that in my sister’s face.

“Sorry, Katie,” I said when she climbed up the ladder, “but you have to wait until you’re six to come up here.” Of course, I soon caved and let her up, mostly because the top bunk was ideal for new games, such as jumping off the top bunk into a pile of pillows or pretending we were poor and had to live in a car, or behind a dumpster. We would bring all our Cabbage Patch dolls up and pretend that our ship had just sunk and now we were floating on a mattress in the ocean with our children. (Sometimes the dolls were our little sisters; we played both ways.) And when it was time to go to bed, I would get in my bed, she would get in her bed, and we would giggle and whisper and throw stuffed animals at each other before we fell asleep,

There were all sorts of benefits to having the top bunk. And I thought of all of them. Besides the fact that it was great for games and jumping off of, at night, before I fell asleep, I could reassure myself with the fact that there were no monsters under my bed, just my sister. I also told myself that if a burglar or kidnapper ran into our room, they would go for my sister first. Or if there was earthquake, I wouldn’t get crushed by a bed, my sister would. The list goes on and on.

So, for six years, the bunk bed worked out pretty well. I was happy, Katie was happy, my parents were happy. Well, not entirely. Having a bunk bed also creates the opportunity for mischief. And yes, we definitely got into some. My parents didn’t appreciate us jumping out of the bunk bed, because of the noise and possibility of injury. There was also the fan. From my bunk bed, you could reach out and touch the fan. It didn’t hurt when you touched it, but it was a hard enough hit to make you jump back and bang your head on the ceiling. My sister and I had lots of fun with the fan, throwing things at it and watching them fly across the room. But the worst incident with the fan happened only a little bit after we got the bunk bed, when I was seven.

My sister and I have always loved Barbies. We would wake up in the morning, put on our robes and socks, go to the bonus room and play with the Barbies for the first half of the day. We had cars, beds, kitchens, TVs, couches, tables, cell phones and tons of clothes. We had girl Barbies, boy Barbies, little kid Barbies, in-between teenage Barbies and baby Barbies. Almost anything you could imagine, we had it. We loved to make houses for them, create families, make them go to school, take their pet to the vet or make them go to the beach. The possibilities were endless. I think that playing with dolls and Barbies so much, and creating stories to go with them was a big part of what makes me the writer that I am. So anyway, we had lots of Barbies.

One day, my sister and I were playing with the Barbies in my room. The fan was on and whirring above us. We had a really old fan; the whole fan shook as it moved. As unstable as it looked, the fan worked just fine. So sitting there with a Barbie in my hand, looking up at the fan, I got an idea.

“Hey, Katie,” I said, “I’ve got an idea.” She looked up at me, and I continued. “Let’s tie some Barbie to the fan and make it a roller coaster.” Now my sister, being five and loving roller coasters, thought it was a great idea. So we found some shoelaces and tied them around some Barbies. We then turned off the fan, climbed up my bunk bed and tied the other end of the shoelaces to the fan. When we climbed back down from the bunk bed, there were four Barbies hanging by shoelaces from the fan.

“Ok, Katie,” I said, “Turn the fan on.” Katie ran over and flipped the switch. The fan started slowly turning, then faster and faster and faster. Katie jumped up and down beside me in excitement. Soon the fan was on full blast and the Barbies were just a blur in the air. Surprisingly, none of them flew off. My sister and I watched the Barbies spin around for a while, but we soon lost interest. We turned off the fan, and went downstairs to eat. I don’t remember what exactly happened next. We probably went outside or something, but for whatever reason, we didn’t come back upstairs until late afternoon.

So we opened the door, flipped on the light, and what do we see? The fan was now three inches above the floor, hanging by a wire, the Barbies lying on the ground, still tied to the fan. Now if this had happened recently, I’m sure my first thought would have been: Crap. My parents are going to kill me. But since I was only seven, my first thought probably was: Uh oh. Mom and Dad are going to be really mad.

            So my sister and I went downstairs and got my mom. We brought her upstairs and showed her the fan. We got in big trouble, and when my dad got home, we got in even bigger trouble. I remember saying something real witty, like, “I guess the Barbies need to go on a diet and lose some weight,” but my parents failed to see the humor in the situation. However, it all turned out fine. The fan was old anyway, so my parents bought a new fan that worked much better, and I got a new story to tell people. I also learned a valuable lesson that day – never hang Barbie dolls from a ceiling fan.