Monday, September 14, 2009

What is she thinking?

Teaching the age group that I do (12-14 year olds), I witness my share of broken hearts and the tears, anger, frustration, and doubt that go with them. There are a lot of similarities between a young girl's heartbreak and a grown woman's. The biggest differences are the girls' lack of experience and the thickness of their skin.

When we watch a young woman struggle with a difficult relationship - whether she's our daughter, our sister, or a student we care about - we offer our best advice, a strong shoulder, and a few tissues. Then we hope that she'll learn and grow from the experience, that maybe the next time around she'll choose a better boyfriend, someone who will show her more respect, or treat her with more kindness.

I really think, though, the best we can do for her, in the long run, is just be there for her. We need to reinforce our belief in her, that she is someone deserving of respect, that she is a person of consequence. If she sees that we believe that of her, she'll believe it of herself and she'll be more likely to kick someone to the curb who isn't treating her well.

One of my students today told me about her weekend. She and her boyfriend have been together for four years. (Can you believe that? She's in eighth grade!) This weekend was their anniversary. He stood her up the whole weekend - didn't show up when he told her he would on Saturday or Sunday. He lied to her about why he didn't come see her. She said he does it all the time. I asked her how she could possibly stay with someone like that and she said, "You don't understand. We've been together for four years." As if that was an acceptable excuse.

I was at a loss. I told her she deserves more respect than that. I told her if she keeps accepting his behavior, he'll keep treating her the same way. But I think it fell on deaf ears. She's a beautiful girl and a good student. She's sweet and kind to other students in the class. She exudes confidence, but obviously, it doesn't run to her core. There's something inside her that makes her believe she isn't worth anything better than what he's giving her.

Yes, she's an eighth grader. Yes, we adults know that these young loves are rarely as significant to our lives as they seem to be at the time. But what concerns me is her willingness to be treated as she is. When will that change? What will have to happen before she realizes she deserves better? That pattern needs to be broken, and now, if you ask me.

Who is going to help her do that? I only have her for an hour a day.

Friday, September 11, 2009

It's the little things

My husband and I have been living a credit-crunched life for a while now, as have millions of other people all over the world, so there are many things we don't do that we used to, items we leave on the shelves that we used to put in the cart (even if it was a virtual cart - we do love the Internet and Amazon). But we do still allow ourselves little luxuries once in a while to perk us up, to celebrate a good day.

For example, my fingernails are currently painted with "Plum Seduction." I just did them tonight. (I've never, ever gone looking for a manicure - never had acrylics - nothing. So that's not a luxury I'm missing.) Tori and I went to CVS yesterday to pick up a few things and the makeup section reeled us in pretty quickly. Fingernail polish was on sale, so I bought a couple new colors. (The other is "Red Hot Tomato." I'm saving it for next week.) I like fun colors on my nails and this one definitely is. It was a quick and inexpensive little treat. (Tori got new lipstick, in case you're wondering.)

The other type of treat we often indulge in comes in a variety of colors, sizes, and weights - BOOKS. We all three devour them. I have been using my library card a lot more in the last year or so and not buying as many books as I have in the past. And you know, I've found that I get as much enjoyment out of reading a good borrowed book as I do from owning one. But once in a while, there's just one that I have to have. Plus, I'm a wanna-be author who hopes that people will want to own her books when they're actually on shelves somewhere, and not just borrow them from the library. The Literary Guild had a good sale a couple weeks ago. I bought two and got one free, plus shipping was nominal. I got A Bad Day for Sorry (which EVERYONE is raving about) by Sophie Littlefield, The Birthing House by Christopher Ransom, and Wicked Prey by John Sandford. I'm halfway through Wicked Prey and loving it. Treating myself once in a while to little things like new, playful makeup and highly anticipated books really does make me happy.

But you know what makes me happiest? When my husband comes home safely from another sales call. When my daughter bursts out of the school doors at the end of the day with a smile on her face and stories to tell me at 100 mph. When my five-year-old nephew comes running at me, grinning - my name on his lips, and ready to play. When my mom and dad hug. When my brother smiles - or laughs.

It really is the little things that make me the happiest - and the most grateful that I share this life with these people.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mean people really do suck

Most of us have seen the bumper sticker or the window decal. Whenever I see it, I nod my head in agreement, thinking, "Yep, they sure do." But you know, it's really true. Mean people suck.

I mean, we've all probably been guilty of being mean to someone in our lives. I know I have. I regret it, and I hope I've managed to apologize and make amends to the people I've hurt. But see, that's the thing. Most of us, when we're mean or spiteful and we hurt someone, we say, "I'm sorry" because we really are. We regret our words and our actions that were often said and done with tempers flaring. Hurting people doesn't give us pleasure, doesn't make us feel good about ourselves. Quite the opposite, right? We end up feeling ashamed and remorseful.

But mean people are different. Mean people set out to hurt others. They take pleasure in causing others pain. Usually, I think they feel the people they are hurting deserve the pain that's being inflicted. And I think there are very few people in the world who deserve to be hurt.

What I don't understand is why people choose to live their lives this way. Why would you choose to be mean and spiteful? The people I know who fall into this category are negative about so many aspects of their lives. They infect others around them and suck the joy out of life.

I think we ought to pity mean people. They're missing out on so much of the goodness life has to offer. I wonder if, when they're approaching the end of their days and taking a look at the world they created for themselves, if they have any regrets. Sadly, I bet most of them don't.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

We won!

Last night was another home football game. Fans and spectators filled the stands again sporting their best maroon and white sportswear. There was reason to cheer - and cheer loudly. Cowbells clanged as our team scored touchdown after touchdown. The final score was 40-6; we tromped 'em. I actually began to feel a little sorry for our opponents. After all, last week, it was us.

We've been back in school for more than two weeks now. It's my first year teaching at the local middle school - the same middle school my daughter attended a few years ago. Although I felt somewhat familiar with the building and some of the teachers when the year started, I am now feeling much more a part of the whole community.

They aren't my students (yet) out there on the football field, or in the marching band, or even in the cheerleader outfits, although I do know some of them because of my daughter. But it will only be another year or two before I will be able to look at the rosters and say, "He was the class clown the year I had him," or "She wrote the funniest stories!" Those connections will be there; they're already sprouting.

As I walked past the student section of the bleachers at half time, I heard, "Mrs. Honeycutt!!" I looked over and into the stands and there were three or four of my eighth graders, grinning from ear to ear and waving enthusiastically at me. I grinned and waved back, then found myself waving and saying hi to several more of them as I walked. Even the young girl who, I believe, is developing an enviable dry, sarcastic wit, waved discreetly at me. (She'd told me earlier in the day that if she saw me at the game and didn't wave, it was because she hadn't seen me.) I smiled at her and waved discreetly back.

We all go to those games for different reasons, remember? I went last night because my daughter performed and because it's a community thing, and - finally - I'm really feeling more and more a part of that whole. Once my daughter graduates, I'm still going to have reasons to sit in the stands and yell for the team.

I need to get a cowbell.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I've got a bite

I recently joined Facebook, so when I get home from work these days, my inbox is usually fuller than it used to be as I'm getting lots of notices about postings from my friends.

However, as I was scanning the list of new mail, one caught my eye and I held my breath. It was an email from an agent I had queried the end of July. It wasn't a reply to the email I had sent her. It was a new one. Could it be.....?

YES!! She wrote that she'd read the three sample chapters I'd sent her as well as the synopsis and she wants to read the rest of the book - if, she said, it was still available. If no other agent had snapped it out of my hands, she would like to read it.

As luck would have it, that manuscript IS still available and so I sent it off this afternoon. She emailed me back that she'd received it and would get back to me as soon as she'd had a chance to review it.

The waiting begins, again. But this waiting is so much more fun. I can daydream about her devouring my book, calling me to tell me she devoured it and wants to represent me. We'll talk about which editor she thinks will love it too and how many copies will be printed in the first run. Then, a year or so from now, I'll be able to hold in my hands a printed, bound, hardback (or heck, even a trade paperback) copy of MY BOOK!!!

Wouldn't that be wonderful?

Yes, that would be wonderful. And it is so much fun to hope.