I Believe in Lemonade

John Henry - Pasadena, California
Entered on March 19, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: hope

I’ve always loved to read. At age two, I could read words. I used to drive my mom crazy, asking her, “What’s that word say?” at every single word I saw. And I literally mean every single word. When I was three, I could read simple books – and understand them. Reading has been a big part of my life so far, and I imagine that it’ll stay that way for the rest of it.

In third grade, my teacher – let’s just call her… Mrs. Smith – told us to start keeping a page count of the books we read outside of class, as well as writing book reports on them. Of course, I was thrilled to have an excuse to read more than was required! After I had documented about 5000 pages of my reading, Mrs. Smith asked me to talk to her one day during recess. I accepted – I felt comfortable talking to Mrs. Smith, knowing that I wasn’t in trouble.

I was wrong.

Mrs. Smith asked me, in quite an accusatory tone, “Did you really read all of these books?” I thought, Duh! Of course I did! I probably wouldn’t have been so confident (I’ve always agreed with teachers, more often than I should), but I knew that I deserved to be confident. Mrs. Smith required us to write one-paragraph summaries of the books we read. I didn’t think that one paragraph was enough space to write about some of those really interesting books – so I wrote two-page-long book reports.

I don’t remember exactly what I replied to her shocking question, but I do know that it resulted in Mrs. Smith calling my mom and saying that I might be slightly angry when I come home. I was definitely not slightly angry. I was furious.

Her disbelief at my achievements insulted me. What did she think I had done? She knew that my parents wouldn’t want to read all of those books and write reports for me just so I could cheat. She also knew that I was smart and got straight A’s – she’s the one who gave them to me. Why didn’t she believe me? I’ve always been honest, all the way back to kindergarten. After school, I would run to my mom and shout, “Mom! I got my name on the board again today for talking too much!” That’s how honest I am – I admit when I’m wrong.

If only Mrs. Smith could’ve known that her doubt would just make me more determined. I ended up reading the most she’d ever seen one of her students read, a grand total of over 10,000 pages. That’s not all I did, though.

I wrote a play.

My play, Trouble at GoldBrain Elementary, was about an evil teacher, Mrs. Cucaroach. She was actually an evil mutant alien cockroach who ate smart kids. No, Mrs. Smith was not an evil mutant alien cockroach, and to my knowledge she ate a child-free diet. I won an award for writing that play, the Young Playwrights Award from the Strasberg Institute, where I was taking acting lessons at the time. My play was produced in a hundred-seat theater by professional actors. From my experience with Mrs. Smith, I learned that no matter what doubts people may have about you, you must try to exceed their expectations. Your efforts will pay off. I also learned that you must always stay positive, no matter what happens to you. Most of all, though, writing that play was what got me interested in writing, and I can’t thank Mrs. Smith enough for that.

I believe that you can take negatives in life and twist them into positives. When life gives you lemons, twist them into lemonade.

Think about it. If something bad happens to you, what will get accomplished if you sit around and mope about it? Nothing. What will happen if you learn from your mistakes and know what to do the next time a situation like that arises? You’ll be able to be better than you were before and achieve your goals. Think about life as a learning experience and you just might be able to teach others to have the same attitude. See the positives in anything that happens, even if all you see is, “Well, I’ll do better next time”.

Look through lemonade-filled glasses. Your eyes may sting a bit at first, but the world will be a better place for everyone.