How to Be Liam (in the Summer)

Wake up very early, even though you are 15.

Say good morning to and hug your mom.

Design video games: Scratch programming, JavaScript, or your submission to Minecraft.

Then, play video games with your brother, and sometimes your sister.

Practice your clarinet.

Reluctantly read your summer reading required texts.

Nap. Sometimes you do this before playing the clarinet or reading.

Spend the rest of the night snuggling with your mom, watching Big Bang Theory, and telling corny math jokes that we find hilarious.


*This poem is inspired by Vicki Spandel’s “How to Be Ms. Sader.”

A Difficult Conversation


“You never say anything positive to me.”

“It’s not that, buddy. I just think you are not hearing what the coach is saying and getting both frustrated and offended.”

“She hates me. She’s never going to let me play with kids my own age.”

“But, you are not at the level of the kids your own age.” I choose my words carefully. I make sure not to say, “not as good as…”.

“How does she know how good I am or not when she never watches me play? She never gives me a chance and only puts me in the group with kids five years or more younger than me.”

I get distracted, “They weren’t that young.”

“I don’t care. I’m totally embarrassed out there. Why won’t you help me practice?”

“This is the first time that you’ve asked. Of course, I’ll help you practice.”

“You say that, but you always get too busy with work or the other kids.”

“I won’t. You want to work on this, so I will help you. But if you are not happy playing tennis, you don’t have to.”

“I don’t know what I want to do. Maybe I would like it better if I was better at it.”

“You absolutely would. But you have to put the time in. Just like with your trumpet. If you only practice some of the time, when you really need to play, you will be frustrated.”

He gets distracted: “I’ve been practicing! Why don’t I get credit for practicing more?”

“But now we are talking about tennis.”

“How can I get better if I only play with the little kids and do the same stupid drills over and over for skills that I already know?”

Sigh. I cannot tell him that he has not perfected those skills yet. He’s too raw.

“I will help you practice like you asked. I just want to make sure you are like playing.”

“Let’s do some practicing and I’ll see how I feel.”

“Sounds good.”

Chapter 29

Today was the worst day ever.

I made the biggest mistake ever.

We were all finished our state testing, so I decided to listen to my music on my device.

But we weren’t allowed to do that, although everyone was finished.

My teacher was so frustrated that she gave me a blue slip.

A blue slip!

Only the bad kids get those.

I don’t see why I couldn’t quietly listen to my music.

But my teacher was really mad.

After testing, I went to my language arts class.

I sort of lost it during that class and my teacher had to send me down to the counselor.

The day kept getting worse and worse, as you see.

My counselor talked about how we all make mistakes and to give myself a break.

That was nice.

At lunch, I didn’t want anyone to know or talk about what happened.

Not even Lindsey.

I was too embarrassed.

As soon as I ate, I went to the library.

Or tried to go to the library.

This is when I got into trouble again!

As soon as I walked in Ms. Reynolds starts waving her arms for me to get out.

I noticed that there were kids in there taking their test still.

I’m so stupid!

Now Ms. Reynolds hates me!

Why do I keep making all of these stupid decisions?

What was worse what that I couldn’t go to the only place that makes me happy on the day I needed it the most.

When I got home, I told my mom everything.

She just hugged me, which was nice.

She asked if I wanted to email my teachers to apologize.

I did.

It was odd.

When Ms. Reynolds replied, she said that she didn’t even think about it after it happened (my walking in and disturbing testing).

She also said that a bunch of kids did it.

She ended by saying that now I knew that the library was off limits during testing and she looked forward to seeing me in the morning.


Then I got the reply from my math teacher who gave me the blue slip.

She wrote that all was forgiven and now I knew what the rules were.

She even thanked me for my mature attitude about the situation.

Then she said she was glad that I was in her class and that she thought I was great.

That was definitely not how I expected this day to end.

A Story from the Past

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A young man, searching for himself.

A young woman, searching for a home.

On leave, attending a dance.

Downtown, looking to unwind from a week of work.

Eyes meet – love at first sight?

Maybe just shy smiles and a polite dance.

Headed out in the morning.

Wishing for a way out.

Not much in common, even their language.

But the heart wants what it yearns for:

Fresh starts, new beginnings, hope for a future, burgeoning love.