Hello everybody! My name is Ashly, I am 8-years-old and I'm in 3rd grade (at least I was in 2001, when I wrote this little story). Let me tell you about school. It has some good parts and some frustrating parts. First, the good. I think that recess is cool; most of the time it's fun to play with my friends. I also love getting awards. For the last three years, I have received the prize in my class for being 'the most compassionate and helpful student'. I also like my teacher, Mrs. Lewis, who is very nice. You'd like her, too. 

Now the frustrating parts. I can't read very well and the work is too hard for me, and I cry sometimes when I can't do it. I'm also very, very small. You see, I have the strangest medical condition that causes me to have heart problems and many problems with my bones. Lots of other things too, but the words are too big for me to write. My symptoms are a big mystery, so I guess you could say I am really special. The toughest parts of these medical problems are that  I'm really small and my hands don't work right. Everyone says I look like a 2-year-old and that really hurts my feelings and makes me mad! After all, I've been around for 8 years!

Because I'm so much smaller than my classmates, when I want to play soccer at recess, everyones says I'm too tiny to play. Of course I want to play anyway (wouldn't you?). Many of the kids tease me and say I'm a baby, that I can't be 8-years-old 'cause I'm so small. I hate being small and I think it's unfair to be treated differently. After all, I'm nice to everyone, I try to help them, and I don't make fun of any of the other kids. Luckily, I do have a few friends at school, and I play with them. We giggle sometimes, and even though they don't understand what it's like to be small, they like me anyway. 

Here are some things that make me tick. I love to collect boxes, any old kind. Good thing, since I also like to collect rocks, and you have to put them in something, right? If you have a jewelry box or knick knack box, don't let me near them or I might bring them home with me. I also love to watch Pokemon, Digimon, Sailor moon, the Simpsons, and Sabrina (you know, the teenage witch). Let's see, what else? Britney Spears is my favorite singer. My favorite food is Cheetos, but I also like pizza and tacos. And I think beanie babies are great. This year, my grandma and I got to plant sunflowers in the garden. They are huge now...three feet huge! 

I have a very complicated family since my Mom and Dad are divorced and my Dad now has a new wife and baby...and a step-daughter Amanda (who is one of my step-sisters). My Mom and Walt, her fiance, live with me. So does my step-sister Ashley. She's 8, just like me, in 3rd grade, just like me, and wonderful fun. When we're not tormenting each other, we are the very best friends.

The only thing I can think of that's OK about being so small is that most kids my age aren't allowed to play in the plastic balls at MacDonald's and some playgrounds, and I can! I'd give that up in a minute, though, if I could only be as tall as my classmates. Being small doesn't mean that I can't do lots of things that other kids my age can do. Take a look at this picture.

Here I am skating.

I think that if you met me you'd say I was funny. I love my Mom so much that when she hugs me, I often tell her that I'm in love! Thanks for visiting my page! 

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Joan Fleitas, Ed.D., R.N.
Associate Professor of Nursing, Lehman College, CUNY
Bronx, New York 10468

Last updated, November 14, 2004