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Growing Up This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   I love winters. I love the snow. But most of all, I love sitting by the fire and staring into space.

I just put my four-year-old daughter, Erin, to sleep. She is the apple of everyone's eye. With her golden curly hair and bright blue eyes, her pudgy figure and bubbly laughter, she looks more like her father than she does me. We both, that is, my husband and I, know that our daughter will become a beauty when she grows up. I love Erin and I want what's best for her. I feel very strongly about making her happy and maybe I feel that way because I didn't have a particularly happy childhood.

When I was Erin's age, or maybe a little older, I wasn't a happy girl. My father was a stern man. He was strict and old-fashioned. My mom was not the kind of woman who stood up against her husband to defend her daughter. Come to think of it now, I had a very dull childhood. I remember having stringy brown hair and dull blue eyes. My face was not ugly, but it was not pretty either. My nose was covered with freckles and I hated them. "Don't worry, sweetheart, your freckles will go away. It's just a matter of time," my mother used to say and gradually my freckles did fade away.

I remember my first day of kindergarten. I wore a pink frilly blouse and green corduroys. I wasn't one of those kids who cried and screamed on the first day of school nor was I one of those who pulled other's hair. Elementary school went very smoothly for me. I never got into trouble and teachers always wrote comments like "a pleasure to have in class" on my report cards.

My thirteenth year, however, was one I will always remember. Now, that doesn't mean that I blossomed into a beautiful girl and some handsome fellow swept me off my feet. That was something I could only dream about or read in books. This was real life. I still had stringy brown hair and sad blue eyes. I no longer cared about my freckles because I had given up on them entirely. I guess I'm exaggerating if I say I will never forget that year, because I probably will forget about it in ten years or so. To be precise, I should say that my eighth grade year was really difficult. I didn't like school then. There wasn't a single day when I was not swamped with homework. Every night I would struggle with math problems. There were nights I had stayed up until midnight to do my writing assignments that I had put off until the last minute. But I guess math problems and writing assignments weren't my major worries. My problem was: I hated myself. People have told you a thousand times that there are times when you cannot stand your own self. "So? Everybody goes through something like that. After all, no one's perfect." You probably laughed at what I just said and you will probably say that I was just going through a phase, or was it a phase? My eighth grade year was lousy. I wasn't an outstanding student in school and I wasn't popular either. I wasn't athletic or artistic or musical. I was just average. Everything I did was satisfactory. Not excellent, not bad, just satisfactory, and for a girl of thirteen years of age being told that you were average at everything was just about like a slap across the face.

The point of my story is that everyone's life has its ups and downs. People think that some get everything they want and don't have a worry in their life. In this story, I concentrated on my downs, but I did have some ups in my life too. Perhaps some day I shall write a story or a book about my happy memories. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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