Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Most Ironic Poster to Grace My Bedroom Wall

When I was in 5th grade, sticker trading was really big in my school and The Simpsons premiered on television. I mention this because, for a few months, the most coveted stickers were not oilies, or fuzzies or scratch and sniffs. They were a plain sheet of Simpsons stickers that were impossible to find. My mom and I scoured practically every store within a ten-mile radius of our house until, finally, we found them at a big indoor flea market that was a few town overs.

A couple of months later, my mom saw a Simpsons poster and--thinking me a rabid fan (instead of the conformist I was actually being)--bought it for me. It looked like this:

...and it hung in the bedroom I shared with my sister for years.

Years later, it was my sister who pointed out to me the irony of us not only having a poster that said Underachiever on it but one that was given to us by our mother.

The thing is, one of the cardinal rules of being in my family was doing the best you can at everything you can. And excelling academically was a top priority. Really, getting below a 90 on my report card was basically unacceptable.

I know this sounds a bit harsh now but the thing is, my parents knew I was capable of getting over a 90 and they thought it was important that I try to always achieve what I was capable of. To be fair to them, they did not push me that hard in things I was clearly awful at. Like hand-eye coordination. Or not reading during family functions.

Sometimes, it created some pressure. But, mostly, I know raising me with those values gave me a ton of self-discipline and a desire to push myself to excel. Two things that led me to write, to finish a manuscript, to finish another manuscript when that one didn't go anywhere (and repeat), to revise, revise, and revise. To always want to be better than I was before.

Even though that meant I basically got no sick days off from school and grief for getting an 89 in Chemistry one semester...I'm grateful. I don't know who I'd be without that drive that was instilled in me.

So, Bart Simpson. Eat my shorts!


  1. I actually still have nightmares about showing up to Chemistry class late, be it for a lab or test. But those darn pancakes at IHOP were soooo good. It's all Gavin's fault.

  2. If my sister and I did poorly on a math test, my mom would help tutor us. I love her to death, but she ... was not the most patient of tutors, lol! We turned into excellent math students so we wouldn't have to let our mom help us anymore!

    I'm so grateful for my parents' confidence in my ability to learn and ace exams--I just never questioned that I should be doing well, and now I have confidence I can learn anything I need to :)

  3. That's really funny, Lynn. I'm taking notes for if I ever become a parent.

  4. Yep, my father gave me a great work ethic and to take pride in everything I do.

    I am blessed to have the parents I do.

    I am not much of a poster person, in fact, I never had one hanging from my walls.

  5. Oh my gosh, I LOOOOOOOOOVE that your mom got you that poster, and I love that it represented the exact opposite of your real life.

    I really respect parents who challenge their kids to achieve all they can, even if it's difficult some times, and I think you're right -- knowing you can do better, and not accepting less, must come in tremendously helpful in the crazy journey of publishing.

  6. Here from Jeff King's blog. Just wanted to drop by to say hello. Cute poster, made me laugh. Thanks for sharing this.

  7. Agreed, Sarah and Jeff.

    Welcome, Andrea! Thanks for stopping by.