Ken did the honors. He ripped open the envelope and read the letter inside. He read every word aloud about what a good school year it will be, when to pick up school supplies and when the school’s open house will be held. What we wanted to know was in the very last paragraph. The name of Simone’s first-grade teacher.
We had gotten the heads up from a parent that we would learn our child’s fate this week. With the teacher’s name in hand, we launched a fact-finding mission to learn as much as possible about her. In seconds, we landed on her web page and read all about her education and teaching philosophy. We even know the name of her cat.
Ken plans to get the lowdown from a few teachers we know, while I will shake down some parents for information. If all else fails, we will do a full background check on her.
Sad, huh? Ken didn’t think so. It’s a big deal, he said. This teacher will be part a part of our family for the next nine or 10 months. Whether we like it or not, we will send our child to her five days a week. Much of what happens at school will shape our lives. There will be school projects, homework and trips.
Simone is ready. We think she’s bored with day camp. She comes home and reads or plays with her learning games. When I told her her teacher’s name, she ran up to other kids to share the news like she had gotten into college or something. What can I say? The kid loves to learn.
Simone is fine just knowing her new teacher’s name, while we have so many questions. Will Simone like her? Will we like her? Will she be tough, hard, mean? A softy? The answers will come in the first few weeks of school. This is what our life has come to: anticipating the what ifs of another school year.
Trust me when I say last week was not a good week. It was awful. Like a rain cloud was hanging over my head with its own lightning bolt awful. Seriously, I cried last week — twice, and I am not a crier. This week didn’t start out much better. For starters, there were more tears. I cry one time a year, if that, so I am done, with a capital D, with crying for the next three years.
I couldn’t take much more rejection or bad news. Then I received a letter in the mail. Writers know what kind of letter I am talking about. It’s one of those letters from you and addressed to you, the self-addressed, stamped envelope writers include in query letters so that agents can deliver rejection on our dime.
There are two types of these letters. There is the dreaded form letter, which is practically useless, and there is the personal rejection. Thank goodness, this one was the later. Agents are busy people. They don’t have time to write personal notes. They have clients to represent, deals to close. So, it’s a compliment when one of them takes a moment to reject a writer’s project and encourage her at the same time.
What in the heck am I talking about? This 12-word sentence: “Your picture book is an original and effective tool for all children.” I needed that positive rejection. That sentence let me know I am doing something right. The agent didn’t offer representation. She can’t take on any more clients during these tough economic times. But I am close to finding the right agent for me and my work. So close.
I was looking for something else when I landed on Mano Alla Mano on Etsy.com. Such colorful, beautiful people. Mamas, papas, children. After a flew clicks, I had to know the story behind the art. Here’s what I learned:
Hello! Well, that is a big question, but the simple answer is that my then three-year-old daughter wanted a blanket with “Kids that look like me” and I searched the internets, fabric stores, etc with no luck. I am a designer and artist by trade and designed some fabric with kids that she approved of. 🙂 I posted some photos of the finished blanket on my blog and was flooded with email requests for yardage. There is a real need for prints that are reflective of our current culture and so after I started selling the kiddo prints I expanded the line to bi-racial families, two mamas, two papas, single parents. As I said on my site, we are all normal and we all deserve to have ourselves and our families represented.
Everyone has a story. If you know of one that should be featured here, send a note to honeysmoke at honeysmoke dot com.
ETA: The mother was spared jail time. She was sentenced to community service and 12 months probation. Thanks to Blanc2 for pointing this out in the comment section.
A mother has no car, takes the bus for work and errands, and has three kids. The bus lets her out on a five-lane highway. She and her three kids get safely to the median. One of the kids squirms away and is hit by a drunk driver. Why is the child’s mother also going to jail? A sad account spotted on Freerangekids.wordpress.com. Check it out.
When I talk on the phone with relatives, the girls like to say hello.
“I’m talking to Daddy,” I often tell them.
“Are you talking to your Daddy or our Daddy?” the girls ask.
Good question. I love seeing how they learn.
A few weeks ago, I was driving the Junior Executives home from day camp and preschool. I sparred with afternoon traffic as the girls told me about their day. At a stop light, Nadia asked:
“Where is your Mommy?”
“She’s in heaven.”
“Way up there.”
It was at this point that I wished we were not having this conversation in the car. Such conversations require a lot more than I can offer while driving. The afternoon drive home continued, and then Nadia launched another question from the backseat.
“What color was her skin?”
I was silent for a moment as my mind exploded with questions. Why does she want to know that? Has someone been asking her about the color of her skin? What four-year-old asks about the color of somebody’s skin? I should ask her. No, I shouldn’t. Just answer the question. I try not to ask too many questions when I am talking to the girls, because I want Simone and Nadia to feel comfortable telling me anything. I figure there will be plenty of time for interrogations when they are teenagers.
“Why do you want to know the color of her skin?”
“Because I want to know, Silly.” Nadia ends a lot of her sentences with the word “silly” these days. One day I will confess to her that I really did feel silly for asking this question.
“Well, it was a lot like the color of your skin.”
With that, the conversation was over. I’d like to say that when we got home I pointed out a picture of their Grandmother and we talked about her for awhile. No, that didn’t happen. We arrived home, fell into our nightly routine and no one said another word about Grandma or the color of her skin. A few days later, I pulled out a picture of Mom and showed it to the girls. The moment, though, had passed, and they didn’t make the connection to the conversation we had a few days earlier.
Maybe next time. There will be a next time, and I will delight in telling Simone and Nadia all about my Mommy.
Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
A white woman marries a Korean man. Are you shocked? Of course, you aren’t. That’s so 1973. Well, it should be so 1973.
Kissing Outside The Lines: A True Story of Love and Race and Happily Ever After tells the story of what happens when a white women and a Korean man marry and have three children. I haven’t gotten my hands on a copy yet, but I will in the very near future.
Author Diane Farr has a wonderful writing voice, and she is funny. A combination of the two, not to mention she’s an actress, undoubtedly helped her land the book deal. I would be less than honest if I didn’t say I have a little twinge of book envy on this one. Okay, it’s a big twinge. The good news is the book industry is publishing books like hers, and perhaps that will open a door for me and others. Seeing her book is giving me the little kick I need to put the finishing touches on my book proposal and get it in the email to agents. It’s tough taking rejection, but this is a glimmer of hope. I hope I’m not too late.
Farr is promoting her book with this excerpt. She also has a website that features her column writing. Enjoy!
A favorite post. Enjoy!
Oprah made a huge mistake — at least her people did. I, the great and not-so-mighty Honeysmoke, was rejected for a reality show on the Oprah Winfrey Network, or OWN.
It is Oprah’s loss. She will never know how wonderful my Real Parenting talk show would have been or how much I would have connected with viewers as its host. And worst of all, she will not meet Simone and Nadia.
I, like countless others who flocked from every corner of the country, awoke before dawn and dressed for a job interview. I stood in line and chatted with the competition. I was confused most of the time, trying to figure out why the line was or wasn’t moving, how many people had showed up, and when I’d get the coveted bracelet. No bracelet, no audition. Oh, how I wanted that bracelet.
I had gone to the audition at 5 a.m. and prepared to stand in line for hours. I carried bananas, grapes, bottled water, a lawn chair and an umbrella. As the line inched closer to the white tent, I realized I wouldn’t need any of it.
At 6 a.m., the line made a huge leap forward. The interviews started at 7 a.m. Finally, a nice guy wearing an orange T-shirt strapped a white bracelet on my wrist. I was number 747. My big moment would occur between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. with the 49 other people in my group, or so I thought.
Many hopefuls learned their audition time and retreated to other places. I had no place to go and took a seat in my lawn chair. About 15 minutes later, a man wearing an orange T-shirt asked whether I and others had completed our applications. Oh, yes we had. “Get in line,” he said. But we are in the 700 group. “I don’t care. Get in line.”
It was showtime. I folded up my chair and stood in line. I glossed my lips, changed from my frumpy everyday shoes into my strappy sandals and pulled on my purple jacket. Yes, purple. I happen to like that color and it looks good on me, thank you very much.
The folks in the orange T-shirts counted groups of 16 and herded us into a tent. We all took a seat and waited for the instructions.
All applications must be signed, the casting coordinator began. If you uploaded a video, write that in the top corner of your application. Don’t bother telling me how energetic you are. That’s a given. Don’t bother giving me your credentials. If I want to hear about them, I will call you back. Don’t talk to me about the segments on your show. I just want to hear about your idea for a show. When it’s your turn, stand up and give me your application. You each have 30 seconds to tell me your name and talk about your show. Applaud each person after she speaks. Got it? Good.
Ut-oh. I had given a lot of thought to the segments on my show. It sure would have been nice to know the casting coordinator didn’t want to hear about those, like, three weeks ago. I tried to regroup, as the audition began. The first person talked about a holistic healing show and the casting coordinator wrote something on her application. Contestant Three’s show was about senior moments. She said she had forgotten to sign her application, which held up the process. Then she started talking about her credentials, and the casting coordinator cut her short. Better follow the rules. I watched the casting coordinator, and she didn’t write anything on Contestant Three’s application.
Everyone else followed the rules. There was a newsy show, an uplifting show, a fashion show. There was a teen show and a few shows that I couldn’t figure out what they were really about. Then there was the dad who wanted to do a show about single fathers and a mother wanted to do a show about single mothers.
I was one of the last in my group to talk. I handed the lady my application and launched into my pitch.
“I am here to represent real parents!” What? Who said that? That wasn’t how I rehearsed my spiel. I quickly back tracked, gave my name, city, state, and rattled off what I had planned to say.
I tripped on some of my words. Am I telling about the show or a segment of the show? I recovered and quickly ended my pitch. The casting coordinator looked uninterested. It didn’t appear she had written anything on my application. Darn.
The casting coordinator told us she would call us back as late as 11 p.m. if she wanted to hear more. My phone didn’t ring. The next morning I was on Oprah.com when Simone walked into the room.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m looking at Oprah’s site,” I told her.
Simone sat still for a moment and then brought me back to reality.