She says she’s not a spitfire any more,
but I don’t believe it for a minute. Loree Griffin Burns
is making waves with her Scientists in the Field award-winner TRACKING TRASH: FLOTSAM, JETSAM, AND THE SCIENCE OF OCEAN MOTION. Here’s her entry in the Spitfire Writers & Characters Contest:
Me? A spitfire? Nah.
Okay, well, maybe a reformed spitfire. A once-upon-a-time spitfire. Yes. That fits better. I’m a recovered spitfire. Which is to say that I have spent a good deal of my adult life learning to control the fiery outbursts of my youth and to maintain—at all costs—a peaceful demeanor. It has been a long process, fraught with missteps and setbacks. But becoming a wife, a daughter-in-law, a mother, and a teacher has steadied me in ways that have allowed me to let go of the idea that I have everything figured out and that it is my job to share my wisdom with the rest of humankind. I have learned to accept that people will not always believe what I believe, behave in ways that I approve of, or do the things I think they should. That is their right and no matter how angry it makes me, spitting fire won’t help.
An open mind, now that helps. Respect and tolerance help too.
And so even though I am passionate about my world views, even though I share them in appropriate venues, I no longer rile when they are challenged. I work hard—very hard—to maintain a peaceful outlook and a respectful approach. As I say, there are missteps and setbacks constantly.
Just recently my six-year-old daughter and I were waiting for the schoolbus.
“Girls can’t spit,” she told me, innocently.
The feminist in me roared to life. I counted to ten, calmed the beast as best I could, and pointed out that girls can spit every bit as well as boys. And then, well, I spit. Literally. Right there in our driveway in broad daylight, I hawked a good one.
My daughter stared at me in horror. Her little hand actually covered her mouth for a moment before she let loose on me, “Mom! Boys can’t spit either! Girls can’t spit and boys can’t spit! It spreads germs!” She paused for a moment before going on. “It’s the school rule and you’d be in trouble if Mr. Caruso found out.”
She let the threat of my shame hang in the air a moment before going on. “It’s okay, Mom. I won’t tell on you. Just don’t let me catch you doing that ever again!”
That daughter of mine? Now she is a spitfire. Long may she spit!
If you’re a world class spitter or spitfire (or something else with the word spit in it), you have one more day to email me your entry! The contest wraps up when the clock strikes midnight Tuesday night. A winner drawn at random gets a signed copy of SPITFIRE and some Lake Champlain Chocolate, which is organic and fabulous. I’ll announce the winner on my blog this Friday — the day of SPITFIRE’s official release!