The month of September is somewhat bittersweet. The sweetness can be attributed to my book launch party for my latest novel “The Baby in the Window” that took place August 24. It was a great success and I’m still basking in the aftermath. The bitterness is because my mother died in the month of September thirty-eight years ago. It’s also the month a lot of schools reconvene and invariably my mind is flooded with stomach-cringing memories of Kindergarten.
There I stood in front of my kindergarten class, trembling like a leaf on a windy day. I was wearing a navy blue jacket with fake fur around the collar. I held my breath while the teacher stumbled over my name. “Class, let’s all give Al…Areth…Alaret…Alretha a warm welcome.” I lifted my head and took in the twisted faces of my classmates as they shouted BOO!!! BOO!!! BOO!!!! My stomach sank and my eyes filled with crocodile tears that I tried to blink back. It was too late. I wiped my eyes trying to keep the salty water from falling onto the floor. My body was shuddering, racked with pain from the rejection. They hated me. I hadn’t uttered a word and just my mere presence made an entire class of five-year-olds revile me. I looked up at the teacher’s wrinkled face for help, hoping she’d take out a magic wand and make me disappear. There was no wand, just the laughter and more boos that resonated throughout the room. She finally told them to quiet down. She squeezed my wet hand and gave me a soothing; accepting smile, then she nudged me toward an empty seat.
With my head down, I slinked to my seat, praying to be anywhere but in Kindergarten. I was a bonafide flop—a failure at five. So I thought. Little did I know that in God’s eyes, I was anything but a flop! I was His creation, a child of God and in His eyes I was perfect. I didn’t know it back then, but that would be the last time I would be booed.
It amazes me how far God has brought me since Kindergarten. I have written six novels, four of which have been published, and two are waiting in the wings. I have written numerous plays, many of them produced in Los Angeles, and more importantly, I have a wonderful husband, family and friends. Moreover, today I am able to stand before family, friends, and strangers with confidence and instead of getting boos, I get laughter, smiles, encouragement and sometimes cheers. God is so merciful and good.
Take it from me, don’t give up when you’re put down, because rejection can be the very thing that makes you fight on, press forward and claim the prize!