One week in grade school, Em scored victories for short girls everywhere.
First, her grade had been preparing for around two months for the Greek and Roman festival. They learned history stuff, made Greek gods trading cards, had an Olympics and finally a festival where they made costumes and everything.
So, Em had been stressed right before this about being a short, curvy girl.
“Everyone else has Paris Hilton bodies,” she said nightly. “And they are so tall, and so incredibly skinny, and, and, and … they wear thongs.”
I tried not to hyper-fixate on that part. I failed a bit.
“You have a Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce body. That’s cool,” I told her because it was true. She was skinny but fit with adorable muscles. “You have a strong, healthy, thin body. Plus, you are much more huggable. Plus, thongs are silly in seventh grade unless, you know . . . free will, let people have their choices, blah, blah, blah.”
And so on.
I had done all the good mommy things of applauding other achievements, saying she has a beautiful, strong, healthy body, a perfect Em body.
She still complained.
So, she was really stressed about the Olympic events.
“I’m so short I’ll never win anything, especially not the standing long jump. I want the standing long jump.”
So, first on the day of the event, she trounced everyone at the knowledge bowl, which is set up like Jeopardy, but with Greek/Roman categories like:
He played his fiddle when Rome burned.
The working class of Rome was called this.
Then came the Olympic events. The events she was worried about.
Em the Short came in second for the discus, and shot put and she WON the standing long jump with a massive leap of almost 80 inches, which is a big deal when you figure she was only 40-something inches and she was competing with tall, thong-wearing girls of 5-8 or 5-7.
Whoo-hoo, another short girl victory! Brains and jumping ability. Yay Em!
This was the look of the victor:
It pretty much still encapsulates her personality.
And yes, Em grew taller and wiser and ended up studying classics at Harvard and winning an award for her thesis on Alexander the Great, becoming a field artillery officer in the Army, and now is in graduate school at Dartmouth (Tuck Business) and Harvard (Kennedy School for Public Policy), and she is of average height, and I feel super lucky to be her mom.
Maybe because she was blonde everyone at Harvard thinks/thought she was a legacy, but she wasn’t/isn’t. She was/is just a smart kid from rural Maine who didn’t give up and tried hard, always.
I always want to be more like her.
My little, creepy book baby is out in the world because who doesn’t want sad, quirky, horror with some romantic bits for the holiday season?
It’s a young adult novel (upper) called WHEN YOU BRING THEM BACK, please buy it!
It’s super fun.