How “Oh, no!” turned into “Yeah!”

Early yesterday afternoon, as I was finishing up lunch with Son #2, my cell phone started ringing. I looked at the incoming phone number and right away recognized it was from Son #1’s school. My heart skipped a beat as I pressed the answer button.

Voice: “Hi, this is Mrs. L (the school principal), from XYZ School. I’m calling you because I have your son in my office right now.”
Me: “Oh no, what happened???”

So many thoughts started running through my head, I felt dizzy. When Son #1 started kindergarten two years ago, I received several phone calls from the (former) school principal, who seems adamant at rectifying my son’s immature behavior by using the stick rather than the carrot method. It took a lot of teamwork between my son, his teacher and myself but we turned things around. Here and there, he’ll still do something he shouldn’t. He feels bad about it and works hard not to make the same mistake again. I admire his efforts.

When I picked my son up at school the day before yesterday, he told me that five or six of his classmates got in a lot of trouble at recess, so I was worried it was his turn. I also worried that he may have gotten hurt. What can I say, he seems to have inherited my clumsy gene. But the conversation went on like this.

Mrs. L (the new school principal): “Oh, no, nothing bad happened. I’m actually calling you to let you know your son received a “school compliment” (believe it or not, it’s an official certificate). He created an excellent piece of writing and his teacher sent him to my office so he could read it to me.”
Me: “Oh, wow, that’s great!” (Phew!)

Son #1, who wants to be a writer / illustrator when he grows up, finally got compliments for his writing from someone besides a close family member. You wouldn’t believe the look on his face when I picked him up. He was beaming with pride, and so was I. I’m so glad he finally went to the principal’s office for something so positive. After the rough patch he hit when he started school and the painful, messy situation he’s had to deal with at home in the past few years, it’s time he got to have a taste of a normal, happy school life.

The funny coincidence is, I got this fortune in my fortune cookie at lunch, just before I got the call. I believe, I believe, I believe! If you’ve read William Joyce’s Guardians of Childhood book series, you’ll get this one.

Fortune cookie - much happiness

Fortune cookie – much happiness

Last night I folded his school compliment and stuffed it in our jar of “good things that happened in 2013”. Look how full our jar is getting and we’re not even through half the year! My boys love adding good things to the jar and they already asked if we’ll have a jar for 2014. This is my top favorite project to add positive thoughts in our lives for 2013.

Jar of good things that happened in 2013

Jar of good things that happened in 2013

Oh, and if you’re wondering what my son wrote, here’s his story. He’s taking you on an underwater dive. I loved the element of suspense, yikes!  I hope you enjoy this Friday distraction. Remember he’s not even seven years old. You can click on the images to read them in a larger format.

I’d also like to share that my son is writing a whole series of books with his own superhero. They’re so good I’ve decided to help him make his writings and drawings into a real book format and look into publishing them with Amazon. I’ll share some of his work in the near future, so you can tell me what you think.

Underwater dive story

Underwater dive story

Look, he ran out of paper and had to get more!

Underwater dive story by first grader

Underwater dive story by first grader

22 responses to “How “Oh, no!” turned into “Yeah!”

  1. Now there’s a story I can sink my teeth into! What a sweet boy. I like that the school gave him recognition.

    On an unrelated note, I just finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. It just made me so sad. I ached for that boy, and yet I understood his parents’ frustrations. Autism is challenge for all parties involved.

    • A story to sink your teeth into… Are you a shark? ;-)
      I really liked the end of The Curious Incident. I thought it ended on a very positive note for all the characters. And even though the boy seems high functioning in the book, you can’t help think how hard it must have been for his parents when he was a lot younger. I really think it’s important to have books like this one that raise awareness about autism and other diseases. Tuesdays with Morrie was also very sad (and inspiring) and did a great job at describing the growing symptoms of ALS.

  2. Hi Milka,
    A super huge congratulations to your son for the amazing award!
    His story was wonderful. And for a 1st grader, his printing and command of the English language is amazing. I love the “jar” idea. :-)
    I also wanted to send you an email regarding your questions about Fine Art America. I thought I had it, but I don’t. Can you email me at
    Thanks, :-)

    • Thank you, he really is a great writer and has tons of imagination. I had no idea the jar of good things would have such a positive effect on all of us, even though I embraced the idea right away.

      I’ll send you an email so you can have my address. Thanks so much for thinking of me!

  3. Yea for recognition! You should have taken a picture of that big, beaming smile. I love his story–amazing for 7 y.o. Glad the year is going better than last.

    • Thank you! I should have taken a photo of him, you’re so right. Maybe I can do it today.

      I too am glad this year is looking much better than last. Even though we’ve had some very rough bumps and some very dark moments so far, I’ve worked very hard at turning the negative into a positive. It takes a lot of effort but the results are worth it.

  4. That’s great! It sounds like it would be a lot of fun to publish a book with him. I’m glad your good things jar is filling up!

    • It’s funny, some weeks we don’t put anything in the jar and others we put several (like this past week).
      I really want to help him publish his book series. I think it’s really good and I’d love to have him see what it looks like in a real book format to encourage him to do more as he writes and draws better. I remember writing and illustrating children’s books at his age and I have no idea whatever happened to them. Well, I have a pretty good idea and I don’t want the same to happen to my son. I really think there’s a future for him in that field if he wants it.

  5. How fantastic! And I love your jar idea. Might have to borrow it.

    • Go ahead and do it! I think I saw it on Facebook late last year and I thought it was a great idea. I can’t wait till we look at it at the end of the year and remember all those good things. It’s such a good idea to have them on paper so we don’t forget. I think I’ll share the best ones on my blog in December.

  6. I have never heard of a principal calling with good news.
    I also love your jar idea! We used to verbally share the good thing and the bad thing that happened today or this week…

  7. something to be proud of. The jar is a great way to keep reminding your family how many great things come our way.
    Keep encouraging that creative writing – that’s where most writers begin :)

  8. 1. Yay! Great story. I’m so happy for HIM and YOU.
    2. We are loving our Good Things Jar too.
    3. Yay! Great fortune. I believe. I believe. I believe.
    4. I used to end my stories that way too.

    The End.
    This is the end of the comment. ;)

    • Haha, Nancy, excellent response!
      Stories can end in two ways: with “the end” or “to be continued”. My son is doing both. :-)

      I didn’t know you were doing the jar of good things. Glad you’re loving it too!

      • We started it on 1/1/13. We keep a stack of multi-colored post-its next to it. It’s quickly filling up with pink, yellow, and blue notes about things we’re grateful for this year ~ from big to small and all points in between.

        We plan to dump it and review all the notes on New Year’s Eve.

      • A multi-color jar, nice!

  9. Well thank you and what a super story. I might just make a jar like that because it’s all to easy to accept the good things and dwell on the bad, isn’t it?

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