When I think about middle school, I cringe. Too many hormones, too many changes, too many algebra equations. When I think about the year before middle school, I smile. I had the best friend a girl could have in the fifth grade.
I would not have made it through the fifth grade without Katie and Judy Blume. I have vivid memories of lip synching both Uptown Girl and Material Girl at her house during our up-all-night slumber parties. I remember reading the borderline-scandalous-for-young-adolescents book Forever alongside her and then having to ask her poor mother some rather awkward questions for clarification. I remember co-writing a play, a musical in fact, with her. We even held auditions among our classmates during recess which, looking back on it , may have been a bit over the top. Hey, we were artists. I think the production was about coming together as a community to save endangered animals. The only character I can remember by name was Edna the Eagle, but she sang her heart out. I recall the chorus going something like this, “Please save the animals, please save the animals, please save the animals and you’ll be happy, too! Like me!” It was the sleeper of the year. Katie was there for me during all my “Are you there God? It’s me Margaret” stages. I’m pretty sure it was Katie who convinced me that I was not dying but, instead, becoming a young woman. Thank you, Katie.
Well, now we’re all grown up and our kids are beginning to explore this great big ol’ world, too. Katie’s son, Elijah, was recently nominated to represent his school and community at the Junior National Young Leaders Conference in Washington this summer. He is raising money through this great website, microgiving, that will help him reach his financial goal to attend the conference. My act of kindness today was to give a modest donation toward his effort. As always, I wish I could give more. When I grow up, I would love to run a foundation that distributes money to all deserving charities in my own backyard. Maybe Elijah can figure out how to make that happen. I think he says it best on his site. “This conference could be the thing that makes the difference and helps me to learn how I can become great and do good things for my community.” Hear, hear, young man! Hear, hear!
P.S. Here are some of my favorite answers he provided on his public questionnaire. How could I not like this kid?!