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Be Who You Want to Be
Dealing with Life's Ups & Downs
By Karen Casey
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 2007 Karen Casey
All rights reserved.
Be a Good Friend
Forgiving others when they have done something mean isn't easy.
Sometimes I get so mad that I just want to scream. Maybe a friend calls me a mean name behind my back. Or worse, maybe she makes up a story about me that isn't true, but everyone believes it. So I promise I will stay mad at her forever. The problem with being mad forever is that forever never ends. And even though she was wrong in what she did, I miss hanging out with her. This is a real dilemma.
What can I do when something like this happens? I can talk my feelings over with my mom or my grandmother. Grandma always has a good suggestion for me. She believes that staying mad causes me more harm than my friend did. She suggests I try to see the situation differently. That isn't easy, but it's better than staying mad forever.
If I get mad at someone, I will try to look at the situation differently.
Feeling left out is no fun.
When my friends get together to do something, I hate getting left out. Don't you? Once in a while all the kids on my block go down to the park and nobody remembers to ask me. I always wonder if they just forgot or if they didn't ask me on purpose. David, my stepdad, says kids sometimes don't notice when somebody's missing from the group. It hurts anyway. It's no fun being left out.
I know sometimes I forget to include someone when I invite kids to come over to my house, but I don't do it on purpose. Mom says we don't have room around the table for everyone. But they probably feel hurt anyway, just like I do.
If I am left out today, I will remember it doesn't mean I'm not liked. There isn't always room for everyone.
How we treat others is like a boomerang.
My cousin Justin says that how we treat other people comes back to us like a boomerang. For example, if I am really kind to him, he will be really kind back. If I am polite to my teacher, she treats me politely, too. If I am nasty to my older brother, he usually gets mad and chases me. Remembering the boomerang idea saves me a lot of trouble.
The good part about the boomerang idea is that I know what I'll get back from people by how I treat them first. If I'm nice to other people in my life, pretty, happy experiences can happen. I'm going to practice first on my older sister by French-braiding her hair.
I get back from others what I give, so I'm going to be kind, respectful, and considerate.
Sharing with others is a good way to honor them.
There are so many ways to share with other people. Can you think of some? How about giving half of your candy bar to a friend? Or maybe helping Reshma study her social studies? Aren't those good ways to share your friendship? Maybe inviting the new girl from down the street over to play computer games is the best way to share today.
Sharing whatever I have with another person makes me feel really good. You probably know someone at school who is really selfish and doesn't like to share. Does she seem very happy? Sharing changes people. Maybe you can share something with a selfish person today. It may make her want to try sharing, too.
Today is a good day for me to share.
I will be there as your sounding board whenever you need me.
If you fall down and scrape your knee, making it bleed, you want someone to take a look at it, don't you? If you get an F on a project you did for science class, you want someone to console you and help you understand that you can get better than an F next time. If you're nervous about a party you've been invited to, you want someone to talk to you about being brave. Everybody feels better when others show they're concerned. It means they care about us.
It's just as important to show others I care about them too. If one of my friends falls off her bike or gets the flu and has to miss school, I know it's nice to stop by her house to see how she is. Making an effort to be really kind and considerate to others is always good.
I will practice being especially kind toward others today.
Do you express your appreciation to others?
It makes me really happy when my mom says she loves me. It assures me that everything is okay. But I forget to do the same for her. I get in such a hurry that I can't remember she likes hearing she is loved as much as I do.
I know I don't always show my friends how much I care about them, either. For instance, yesterday Beth brought an extra dessert for me in her lunch, but it had raisins in it, so I didn't eat it. Before I even thought about what I was saying or doing, I spit it out. I didn't even say thanks for thinking about me. I apologized later, which felt good, and she promised that she wasn't mad. The most important thing is that I really love having her for a friend, and I didn't show that. I don't think I will make that kind of mistake again.
My friends are very special to me. I will show them I care today.
New friends can make our lives more interesting.
Have you ever been the new girl at school? Maybe you haven't ever moved into a new neighborhood, but lots of kids move around a lot. Sometimes it's because their mom and dad quit living together, and the mom moves to a different house. Or sometimes the dad gets a new job in another town, so the whole family has to move. It isn't easy being the new girl at school or in the neighborhood.
If there's a new girl in the classroom today, why not go up to her and say hi? Tell her your name and ask her to sit next to you at lunch. She'll feel a lot better if she's not alone. And you'll feel good about this too. Every time we make a connection like this with someone else, it gives us a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.
I will say hi to someone new today.
What's important in life is how we treat each other.
When you tell a friend you will take good care of her bike, are you really careful, or do you drop it when you get off instead of using the kickstand? How about when you borrow Sophie's Gameboy? Do you remember to turn it off as soon as the game is over, like you said you would?
How do you feel when a friend says she will keep a secret you told her, and then you find out she told everyone at the lunch table, and now they're all looking at you? Being able to trust another person is important. Making certain that someone else can trust you is important too.
I will do exactly what I said I would do today. I want to be trusted.
Making a new friend can be hard.
Do you ever wish a certain girl would be your friend, but you don't know how to ask her? Did anybody ever ask you to be her friend? Sometimes kids don't really ask, they just start talking to each other. When Jamie and I became friends, she just walked up to me and asked if I wanted to play jacks. I said yes, and we've been friends ever since.
My teacher says it's good to make friends with someone new in our class. It would be pretty lonely to move to a new school where you didn't know anyone. I'm so glad I have a lot of friends.
I will be on the lookout for a new boy or girl today at school. I will offer my friendship.
Best friends can make the day more fun.
Did somebody choose you as a best friend? Sometimes when I look at my classmates, they all seem to be paired up with a best friend already. That's probably just my imagination, though. Plenty of girls ask me to come over for parties and stuff.
Being a best friend doesn't just happen. It takes work. If I want a best friend, I have to be kind. I have to be willing to share my favorite things. I have to be willing to take turns. If I'm not anybody's best friend right now, maybe I should just enjoy all the good friendships I already have.
I can be kinder to everyone today. It will make all of my friendships better.
You don't have to like everybody, but you can still be considerate.
There's a big difference between not liking someone and being mean to them. Just because I don't like the boy who sits behind me at school, or the girl who lives across the street, I don't have to call them names or play mean tricks on them.
What I do when I don't like someone is pay extra attention to the kids I like a lot instead. Sometimes I watch my friends who like the kids I don't like. Mom says I can learn something I need to know that way. My best friend at school actually likes the boy who sits behind me. Maybe I can learn why.
I may not like everybody I am around today, but I can be kind and considerate anyway.
Show others that they matter to you.
Sharing a treat that Mom sent in my lunch shows Maia that she's my friend. Asking Jackie to sleep over this weekend is a nice way of telling her she's important to me. Helping Mom clean up the family room and bringing in all the toys from outside shows her I love her.
My teacher says we all need to know that we matter. If we aren't noticed on the playground or chosen to join a dodgeball team, we can forget that we matter. But we do, she says.
Today I'll make sure my friends know they are important to me.
All that is necessary to make this world a better place to live is to love.
Molly didn't get to come to our school Halloween party because she was sick, so Mrs. Smith sent some pumpkin sugar cookies home with Molly's brother. I wonder if she was too sick to eat them. Mother said that even if she couldn't eat them, they might have made her feel better. She said that when somebody does something really nice for us when we are sick, it helps us feel better. Knowing we're really missed and loved helps us heal.
I guess this means I can help someone who's sick by being thoughtful toward them.
Today I'll try to be really kind and considerate.
Compromise is part of getting along with others.
My dad always says, "It's the human condition to want everything your own way." But getting your own way all the time isn't even a possibility in most families. For instance, do you get mad when your mom says you and your brother have to take turns riding in the backseat of her van? Deciding who gets to go first when the class is playing T-ball can cause an argument too. Taking turns is the only fair way, isn't it? Not always having to be first in line means you're growing up. It means you're learning to compromise. Mom says grownups compromise all the time, especially when they're solving problems at work.
You will have a chance to compromise with a friend today, probably while playing a game. Try it and see how grown-up it makes you feel.
I will practice compromising with my sister and a friend.
Love one another!
Do you love everyone you know? I don't. Dad says I should try to love everyone. But when Theresa chases me for no reason or when Sandy laughs at me for getting a bad grade in math, I really don't feel like loving them. I don't want to love anybody who isn't really nice to me.
I don't even understand how you can love someone who is mean. Mom says people are only mean when they are afraid. She says mean people even need extra love. That's not easy to do! Mom says if I can't be loving, the next best thing to do is to not hurt them back at least. Maybe I can do that part.
I will not hurt anyone today. Even if somebody is mean to me, I will remember what Mom said about their fear.
Friends notice each other's strengths.
I can do certain things better than Rusty, the girl who lives across the street. I can climb the apple tree much higher than she can. She's a lot better at jumping rope than me, though. I stumble too often. Rusty's mom says each one of us has special abilities, so we can do at least one thing better than anyone else. Reading and playing Scrabble are also things I am really good at.
If my friend Sara needs help in something I'm good at, it's fun for me to help her. Then I can ask her for help with math in return. She nearly always gets a perfect score when we have a math quiz. Helping one another makes all of us a little bit better at everything. That's what friends are for.
I may want some help today with math or riding my new bike. Have I helped a friend lately? If I have, it'll be easier to ask her to help me now.
Staying mad at a friend hurts both of you.
One time I stayed mad at my friend Torry for two years! She had made fun of me at her birthday party in front of all the kids. She told everybody that Ben was my boyfriend, and he was at the party too. I never spoke to her at school or on the playground, and I didn't even go to her eighth birthday party the next year. She asked me to come too.
Staying mad isn't any fun. Even when it seems like we have a good reason for it, it makes life harder. I never knew what to do when a friend I wanted to play with was playing with Torry. I just had to walk away. I'm glad I finally got over being mad. One day I just stopped feeling mad. I don't even know why. Torry seemed glad too.
Mom says life is too short to stay mad. She says I should talk about being mad, then let it go. I'm going to work on the "let it go" part.
I can change only myself, but sometimes that is enough.
Don't you wish you could make every one of your friends do exactly what you want them to do? Everybody wishes that, my stepmother says. She wishes we all would come to the dinner table on time, just once! Dad wishes we would get our bikes out of the driveway before he comes home from work. My brother wishes I'd let him play with my friends and me more often.
Changing someone else is hard work. Actually, it can't be done. Sometimes a friend will do what you want her to do, but that doesn't mean you changed her. All it means is that she changed her mind about what she was going to do. Trying to get someone else to change wastes a lot of time. It's a lot easier just to change yourself.
I will work on changing only me today. If I am unhappy with others, maybe I can just change how I see them.
Love your friends—they are very special.
How hard is it to think before doing something? Once in a while, it seems there just isn't time to think first. For instance, when Melissa suggested that we ignore Kira at recess because she hadn't shared her cookies with us, I did it before I even thought about it and then felt sorry later. After all, Kira has always been a good friend, and what I did was not loving at all. My mother explained to me that love is about giving to others first, not just getting something from them, and I forgot this. It's difficult to remember this, but it's not impossible.
Each day it's a good idea to think about a way to express love to a friend. Maybe I can help someone in my reading group who is having trouble with phonics. For sure, I can avoid doing something mean. That's another way of being loving. I will show my love in many ways today.
Open hearts can get hurt. Asking for help is not always easy.
Sometimes the box of toys is too big to move by myself. Maybe the bed is too wide to reach across to pull the sheets straight. Maybe I keep forgetting how to spell certain words for my spelling test. Every single day, there are things I have to do that are too hard for me to do alone. I'm lucky that I have friends and family and teachers who can help.
Asking someone for help is a really good idea for another reason too: everyone likes to feel important. When I get asked for help, I know I'm needed. And when someone helps me out, I feel cared for. It's a great two-way deal.
Today I'll have a chance to show a friend that I need her. That's good.
Being angry with friends is not easy.
When I have a fight at school or with one of my friends who lives close by, it makes it hard to even see them. That's how I felt after Molly and I fought over who had the most jewelry. It's okay to feel like this for a while. Even adults sometimes feel this way. But I can't stay mad forever. What's the solution?
Deciding to say I'm sorry is not easy, but it's one solution. Asking Mom or Dad for help with working out a solution is another good idea. After talking it over with my dad, I realized I was angry at Molly because she had become so mean in the argument we had. And I realized I had been mean also. My dad promised that if I apologized for my mean words, I would feel better. I practiced saying I'm sorry to one of my stuffed animals. Then, when I saw Molly, I pretended I was still saying it to the stuffed animal, and I got the words out just fine. In no time at all, we were playing again and laughing. The jewelry argument was forgotten.
Everybody gets angry sometime. It's important to find healthy, respectful ways to talk about anger and then to move on.
Fighting with a friend always makes me sad.
When you can't get your best friend to play the board game you have been asking her to play every day for a week, do you get mad? Maybe she has a good reason for wanting to play something else. Maybe she doesn't know how to play the game you prefer, or has forgotten how to play it. Did you ask her? If you want to spend time with her, why not go ahead and play what she wants instead of fighting over it, or make a deal to take turns getting your way? Fighting is never any fun. At least I don't think so. In fact, fighting makes my stomach upset.
Excerpted from Be Who You Want to Be by Karen Casey. Copyright © 2007 Karen Casey. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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