Those Four Little Words

Middle school was not easy for me, for several reasons, but mostly because I looked like this:


Oh, girl. Just. . . . no.

I have blocked out most of it, because it was awful. Y’all think kids are mean in general? Try looking like that. I was 11 in that picture! Awful, though I did learn very early on that relying on my looks to get me through life was not going to be an option. Some stuff stays with me, like the octave my sister used when she sang “Bucky the Beeeeaaaaa-vah!” to me, or when my mother would ask me after a dental visit if they flossed between my front teeth with a rope. Yes, these actually DID happen.

So my oldest, the angel, is in third grade. She’s beautiful and will have none of the same issues that I had, and for that, I am simultaneously grateful and jealous. Her white-blonde hair and striking blue eyes make it obvious that she’s a combination of our best features, but put together in a way that allow her to look like neither her father, nor I.

She is also exceptionally smart, and does very well in school. And though I block most of the torture I lived through growing up, it all came rushing back to me when I heard four little words:

Odyssey of the Mind

I kid you not, my heart stopped. OM occurred during an integral part of my adolescence. As if being a nerd with exceptional intelligence wasn’t hard enough, they put you all together, so you can be the didactic equivalent of the cast from The Big Bang Theory. And in what could only ever be described as a move to torture you, they give you an assignment that is completely unattainable. I’m paraphrasing, but I’m pretty sure the assignment included something like:


Build a moving, completely independent vehicle that can move a distance of at least 697 miles within 14 seconds using only a paperclip, one-eighth of a piece of previously chewed gum (gum can be chewed no longer than 36 seconds by one person or 34 seconds by two people), and the comics portion found in the Sunday, February 13, 1983 edition of the Orem Daily Herald (helpful hint! Orem is located in Utah).

Good luck, children! Remember, you can’t ask your parents for help.

There’s a chance that I may be bitter. I’m letting her do it anyway. To qualify for the program, she has to build a monument of something. She asked if she could do a monument to me, but after seeing her portrait of me, I politely asked her to concentrate her efforts on something more…monumental.


    • rhonda ellis on September 19, 2012 at 2:55 am

    Love your blogs! I too remember those feelings and my heart stops when someone, especially someone who went to a different school, says “I found a SR yearbook, let’s see if you are in it”.

      • Kristin on September 19, 2012 at 3:01 am

      Rhonda!! I totally know what you mean. My heart also stops when my husband comes home and says “Hey I met someone today that knew you in high school.” Noooooooo!!

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