This is the first chapter of a book I am writing. I would appreciate any feedback. I am currently working on chapter 5.
May 18, 2003
It all began on a cool May morning in the year of 2003. A princess was born. Her parents named her Ari. Now she was not a princess in the usual sense of the word, her family was not royalty, nor where they rich, but she was a princess to them. She was their little red-haired, green eyed princess. She was the most precious little bundle ever to be placed in her mother’s arms. It was love at first sight.
Ari’s parents knew that there was going to be a lot of struggle’s in little Ari’s life and this was because Ari was a little different than all the other little one’s born that May morning. Ari was born with cleft lip and cleft palate. Instead of feeling over-whelmed with fear and worry, Ari’s parents were over-joyed. Their daughter, their princess, was the most beautiful little girl in the world and they swore that no matter what obstacles Ari was going to have to overcome they were going to make sure that they protected her and reminded her that even though she looked a little different, she was exactly the same as everyone else.
Now this was an easy feat for them for the first few years of Ari’s life because everyone that saw little Ari fell instantly in love with her. She had the most amazing smile and such an outgoing and happy personality. She also had two older brothers that looked out for her and protected her.
Once she started school, not preschool, but kindergarten, things started to change for Ari. Other children started to notice the difference between themselves and Ari. They noticed that she had a scar on her upper lip, from the few surgeries she had already had since she was a baby, the noticed that it was difficult for them to understand what she said to them because of the difficulty she had forming words, more specifically certain sounds, like S’s and V’s and T’s. This was due to the cleft palate and the placement of her tongue.
Ari’s parents decided that she was going to need a little help from someone who specialized in the area of speech, so the school and her parents formed a team of teachers and doctors who would help her to learn how to talk in a way that would make it easy for others to understand her. Now before this all came about her parents didn’t think there was anything that needed to be changed with their beautiful daughter. They could understand her, perfectly I might add and they felt sort of frustrated with the fact that even though they thought their daughter was perfect, others thought differently.
From this point on things in Ari’s life changed, and not for the better. Over a period of time she came to dislike herself.
The very first thing she hated about herself was her lip. She would tell her mom that her scar made her ugly. Her mother ALWAYS responded and told her “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL INSIDE AND OUT!!” and her mother meant it. Still Ari didn’t believe it.
Ari started forming many new friendships, but not with children her own age. She started bonding with adults, friends of her parents. She felt safe around adults because they never picked on her or pointed out her differences.
As time progressed, bringing us to the current time, the year 2013, Ari’s self-hatred has grown to complete disgust with everything about herself. This disdain has put her behind her peers in school; academically she is two grades behind in math and reading.
She cannot focus on school and her education because she has developed severe depression and anxiety. She is in a constant state of worry. Always wondering what she can do to make other kids like her, accept her. The poor child is only ten (10). She thinks she is ugly, that she is stupid and fat. She thinks the whole world hates her. This is untrue but nothing that her parents say or do seems to help.
“The First day of Fifth Grade”
Ari’s alarm clock went off at 6:30 am and she instantly hit the snooze button. She definitely was not overly excited about her first day of school. Fifth grade was going to be such a bummer, she thought to herself as she laid there with her pillow over her head.
She laid there getting more and more nervous as the time passed, thinking about the new teacher and kids in school. Finally, at 7 am she had no choice but to get up because her oldest brother, Luke, who was a freshman in high school this year, came barreling into her room and rolled her right out of bed, literally.
Ari became instantly irate.
“MOM! MOM! MOOOM!!!!” screamed Ari, “LUKE IS BEING MEAN TO ME!”
“Luke, cut it out and stop picking on your sister! And make sure your brother is out of bed too!” replied Ari’s mom
By the time Ari made it downstairs her mom, Maggie Patterson, or Mag’s as her friends called her, was already getting her kids their breakfast and was ready to push her bickering children out the door.
“Gage, do you have all of you school supplies in your backpack?” she said to her second oldest child. “Remember it’s going to be different this year, you’re going to have to be prepared and do ALL of your homework, and seventh grade is going to be much harder you know?”
“YES! Geez mom, you act like I have no clue” said Gage sarcastically, rolling his eyes behind his mom’s back.
“Gage do NOT roll your eyes at me that is so disrespectful! Get your backpacks and get out the door or your all going to miss the bus!” she stated plainly, trying to not show her kids her ever growing frustration for their morning’s antics.
Finally all three children were headed for the door; snack’s in hand and backpacks over their shoulders. They all hollered back into the house “Love you mom!” and before she could reply they were gone.
Finally, summer was over and it was time for some peace and quiet while Mag’s tried to get back to writing. Mag’s was a freelance writer and a new, up and coming author. Having the kid’s home all summer had definitely put a damper on her writing career.
She loved them but was very happy to see them go, for the day anyway. And knowing that they would come barging through the door in less than eight hours, she figured she better get right to work.
This was Ari’s first year at Hardbury Elementary School alone, without one of her brothers there anyway. She had always felt out of place in school but she figured it was going to be WAY worse this year. Ari had always had special help in her classes because she had such a hard time focusing and sitting still so she was on an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) which meant that there would be times that she would be pulled out of the classroom to get help, and when that happened EVERYONE stared at her. It was the worst feeling ever. And on top of it Ari had started going through the ‘change’ over the summer, so she was feeling even more awkward and out of place than ever before.
She really wished she wasn’t so different and that she didn’t need the help, but her mom said she did!
‘Ugh, sometimes my mom makes me so mad, like doesn’t she realize that everyone picks on me because of this? I mean how am I ever going to be normal and make friends as long as everyone thinks I am like ‘weird’ or something?’ thought Ari to herself, as she hopped off the bus and ever so slowly started walking towards the door’s by the office.
When she got inside, gaggles of kids walked by her, laughing and talking about their summers while Ari stared at the ground, her stomach full of butterflies.
She went and found her new classroom and hung her bag on the peg where her name was posted above it on a name tag sticker. As she turned around to make her way to the cafeteria for breakfast, which the school offered for free, her new teacher approached her. His name was Mr. Hamburg and Ari was very nervous, this was the first time she ever had a male teacher and she was afraid he wouldn’t understand her.
“Hi, Ari! How are you today?” asked Mr. Hamburg
“Ummm…I’m okay” mumbled Ari
“Are you excited for our first day? I have a lot of fun stuff planned for us to do together.” Mr. Hamburg stated.
“Yeah I guess so” Ari responded nervously.
“Okay. Why don’t you go down to breakfast and out to the playground to see what your friends have been up to all summer and I will see you in a half hour.” Said Mr. Hamburg, smiling.
Ari headed down to the cafeteria to get some breakfast. When she got to the cafeteria it was packed. All the kids were in there chatting and laughing. Breakfast choices were bagels and yogurt and string cheese with milk or juice. Ari chose a bagel and chocolate milk and went and found an empty table to sit at. Being alone was something Ari was very good at. She tried not to look at the other kids because it seems like making eye contact with them was always a mistake. No one ever paid much attention to her in the past so she assumed it was going to be the same this year. She really wished that one of her brothers, Gage or Luke, were here with her.
After she ate her bagel she ventured out alone to the playground, walking very slowly and thinking to herself. She had always wanted her mom to home school her but for some reason her mom thought it was better for her to go to public school and try to make the best of it.
While Ari was swinging she noticed another girl walking towards her. Ari had never seen this girl before. She was tiny, with brown hair and she seemed kind of shy. She hopped up onto a swing next to Ari.
“Hi, my name is Morgan. What yours?” Morgan asked Ari quietly. So quietly that Ari almost couldn’t hear her.
“Ari.” She said rather meekly.
“We just move here a few weeks ago. I live on Cottage Street. I’m 10 (ten).” Morgan said, a little more excitedly. “My mom and dad said I should try really hard to make friends at my new school since my other school I never had friends. Do you want to be my friend?”
Ari thought for a moment, and then replied sort of skittishly, “Yeah, we can be friends; I don’t have very many friends here.” Ari smiled to herself. Maybe fifth grade wouldn’t be so bad after all. “Who is your teacher? I have Mr. Hamburg. He seems nice. I have been going to this school for a long time, so maybe I can show you around.”
“Really!” exclaimed Morgan. “My teacher is Mr. Hamburg too! Maybe we can sit together during class and lunch too!”
Right then the morning bell rang and Ari and Morgan headed off the playground to line up. Ari was having such a great morning already. Hopefully the rest of the day was like this.
The girls got into the classroom and were looking around for their seats when Mr. Hamburg came in and said “Everyone can pick their own seat mate, under one condition, you MUST pick someone you don’t know that well. This way we can all make new friends this year.”
Ari and Morgan looked at each other excitedly. They both ran over to a table in the corner and sat down together. ‘This is awesome’ thought Ari. ‘No teacher had ever let them pick the person they were going to sit with. She had always been stuck with someone who hated her or a boy who was mean to her.’
Once everyone had chosen their partners, Mr. Hamburg announced “Today is going to be the best day of the school year, does anyone know why?”
A boy named Tom hollered “You’re going to let us go home?”
“No, I don’t think so Tom.” laughed Mr. Hamburg “Any other guesses?”
No one else said anything so Mr. Hamburg said “Today we are going to play a lot of different games to get to know each other and then we are going to end our day with a pizza party! How does that sound to everyone?”
The whole classroom erupted in hooting and hollering.
Mr. Hamburg laughed and asked “Please quiet down so we can begin?”
Ari noticed when he laughed that his glasses fell off his nose, this made her laugh more. By the time they all settled down her stomach hurt from laughing so much.
Throughout the day they played games where they drew pictures of their favorite things and everyone had to guess what it was. Ari’s was easy to guess because her favorite things in the whole world were her cats, Smoky and Stormy.
They also sat in a circle and had to try to guess each other’s names, Ari knew some of them so she wouldn’t guess for those kids because that would be cheating and Mr. Hamburg said cheating was wrong.
Finally the end of the day rolled around and it was time for pizza. Mr. Hamburg had ordered the pizza earlier that day and had even asked the kids what their favorite pizza topping were. He wanted the kids to all try something new so he had got each pizza with two different toppings, one topping on each side. Most of the kids like pepperoni, cheese or sausage but not Ari. Her favorite pizza topping is pickles! Since that was such a strange request Mr. Hamburg had ordered a WHOLE pizza with just pickles for a topping and had it cut into 16 pieces so everyone could try it. No other teacher had ever made her feel so special.
At 2:30pm the buses rolled up and the bell rang, Ari ran to the bus. This has been the best day EVER!
When she got off the bus she ran straight into her house. She just had to tell her mom about the best day she had in school EVER!
- ‘Ambassadog’ Lentil, Born With Cleft Palate and Lip, Helps Kids with Facial Differences Feel Normal [Video] (medicaldaily.com)
- Mother wants others to know common birth defect is nothing to fear (fox4kc.com)
- Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Genetic Risk (23andme.com)
- Parents of children with cleft lip urge boycott of The Lone Ranger movie (thestar.com)
- Buykeywordarticles.com (BKA) Announces Official Sponsorship of Operation Smile 5K Fun Run (prweb.com)
- A French Bulldog, Born With Cleft Lip and Palate, Inspires Children with Facial Differences (petcarerx.com)
- Disney’s Lone Ranger sparks anger as birth defect is used to make villain Butch Cavendish ‘look more evil’ (independent.co.uk)
- Local Puppy Born With Cleft Palate Becomes Canine Celebrity And Ambassador (philadelphia.cbslocal.com)
- Waldorf Education is Growing in Boca Raton (prweb.com)
- Special Needs Advocacy – Cleft Lip and Palate (adoptedbydesign.typepad.com)