Personal Narrative Genre: Sample Personal Narratives
These personal narrative samples were all written by sixth grade students. These pieces are excellent examples of personal narratives, but as with all writing, even the most famous masterpieces, there is room for revision. Each piece does many things well, and any one piece may serve as a model or ignite ideas for your own personal narrative.
Cold waves lap at my back. The wind roars. The capsized kayak bobs crazily like a runner’s short ponytail. My arms and legs tingle with the thought of an underwater creature dragging me down into the watery depths.
“This is just like T.V.,” I think as I anticipate a shark jumping out from the water and eating us. I shiver involuntarily.
“Help!” I cry, small-voiced.
Earlier, that day had started out like any old vacation. The weather was warm, and there was a pleasant breeze licking at the waves in the lagoon. My mom’s book club invited my brother, sister, mom, and me, along with two other families, to a beach house. The house was on a tranquil lagoon with rippling water. No one else was in the water that day. The house had kayaks, body boards, and a paddle boat! Perfect for us kids! All was going well until the two boys got bored.
The boys were evidently going to go crazy if they didn’t do something soon. They had been lying in the sun for too long, and they were swiftly accumulating girly tans. Suddenly, Josh had a marvelous idea! Why didn’t they let one floaty go drifting downstream and then go chasing it in the paddle boat?! The idea was perfect. There was only one catch: the pleasant breeze that had been blowing gently was now a gushing whirlwind of energy, and the floaty was rapidly growing smaller and smaller, with the boys close in tow.
“Tino! Joshua!” Madison, Ana, and I screamed and yelled, but it was to no avail.
“JOSHUA BURCH! COME BACK HERE!” Madison hollered. Our mothers came up behind us.
“Looks like they’re going to need a rescue team,” Madison’s mom said. We looked at her for a second, and then jumped into action. Ana manned the one-person kayak while Madison and I took the two-seater. We pushed off, soldiers on a mission!
Ana reached Tino and Josh before Madison and I did. The situation was worse than we had thought. Tino and Josh were flailing about in the water. In trying to reach the floaty, they had fallen out of the paddle boat. Ana had tied the kayak and paddle boat together, hoping to give it a tow because the current was too strong to paddle the boat back. The boys were still in the water, unable to get in the boat. Ana, realizing her plan wasn’t working, untied the kayak. Finally, Josh managed to get in the paddle boat, leaving Tino to fend for himself.
Meanwhile, Madison and I struggled with our kayak. We had moved away from the others and into the middle of the lagoon. Seeing Tino swimming towards us, we made room for him on board. He reached us and heaved himself on. I threw my weight on the opposite end so we wouldn’t capsize. Madison and Tino sat with their legs dangling, resting. I knew they shouldn’t do that, but before I could warn them, we tipped over, and we all went spilling into the lagoon!
The cold water hit me like a wall. I surfaced, sputtering water. I prayed to God, thanking Him that we had life jackets. My first concern was that we had to right the kayak. Unfortunately, this was easier said than done. After our fifth try, the kayak reluctantly flipped over with a loud squelching sound. I felt as if we should get a gold medal for that! All I wanted to do was get out of there, but the lagoon wasn’t finished with us. Our paddles had floated away! Luckily, Ana, the hero of the day, brought the paddles to us. Thank you, Ana!
During that time, Ophie, Josh and Madison’s mom, arrived to help. She joined Josh on the paddle boat, relieved Tino from us, and took him to shore. Madison and I managed to arrive at the shore safely without any more tip-overs. Hip, hip, hooray! I watched Ana battle her way home and thought it would have gone much differently if she hadn’t been there. I looked back at my friends, then at the water, and I knew this wouldn’t keep us out of the water. No way!
The whole experience helped me learn that you have to be calm in scary situations even if you aren’t calm at heart. Things look much worse when you’re scared, so sometimes you just need to pause, take a deep breath, and I promise things will look much brighter! My advice to kids like me would be to listen to your parents when they insist upon wearing life jackets. Those jackets really do live up to their name. They can save lives. They helped save mine!
“Jenny, do I really have to swim this? The distance is so long, and I don’t want to do two laps of butterfly! In the first event when I did butterfly, I choked on water!” I complained on a sun-drenched day.
I was at Petaluma High School, standing next to my coach, Jenny. It was my first swim meet, and I was having a pleasant time. Something was bothering me, though. You could blame it all on the next event coming up. I was not looking forward to it one bit. I had done fairly well in my previous events; however, I was edgy and nervous for this one. This was a 200-yard Independent Medley. It was a long distance because it included eight laps of four different strokes.
“Next event, 200 I.M. Girls, ages 11 to 12s,” Coach Patrick called through the speakers. He was the announcer for today, and his voice sounded different through the intercom speakers.
“Come on; you can do it! Go! Go! Go!” Jenny urged as I ran over to get ready. “I just know you can!” I heard her say.
This was it, the last event of today’s swim meet.
“Swimmers, step up,” called Patrick. He waited until the six swimmers walked up to their diving blocks. Quiver, wobble, shake, went my legs. Oh dear, I thought in my head as I waited.
It was only about five seconds before my head would touch the cool water, but five seconds felt long. The swimmers bent down and held the edge of the diving blocks. I guess I looked so ready and professional-like on the diving block, but inside my stomach was on the world’s biggest rollercoaster and my heart was the one who wanted to jump out into the pool. The water smiled gleefully at me. Come on, come on, it seemed to muse.
Beep! The buzzer went off, and everybody plunged into the shallow, still water, sending it into a million ripples and crinkles. It felt good, and I relaxed for a split second, but then remembered that this was a 200-yard medley. I started kicking and soon emerged out of the silky water.
Start with the butterfly stroke, I told myself going through the order again in my head as I swam. I pulled my arms back and did a stroke. Again, again, and again. I hoped not to choke on water this time. Soon the wall was in front of me. I turned and kicked off, starting my next lap of this stroke.
Next up, backstroke, I thought. On my backstroke start, I got water up my nose, probably gallons of it. Gagging, I resurfaced. At the flags, I counted five strokes, and then did a flip turn. More water ran up my nose. It felt like a hundred needles touching it.
When I pushed off the wall for the breaststroke laps, my legs were stones, wanting to sink lower and lower. I needed to catch my breath. But I can’t stop. Keep going! I thought about what Jenny had said. I know you can, I know you can.
Before long, I was approaching the wall for my finish. I heard a swimmer coming up behind me, but I wanted to get there first.
Kick, stroke, kick, stroke. We swimmers were all like sharks of the same species who wanted the prey first. I could hear everybody speeding up.
I touched the wall, mouth full of water. I looked up and climbed out of the pool. People cheered. I never thought I’d be able to do it. Sure I was trying to catch my breath and my legs were Jell-O, but I swam it. I swam 200 yards! I did it and got second place. Now I felt strong and confident. Thank you Jenny, my mind said, wishing Jenny would get the message.
The Delightful Musee D’ Orsay
“Wow!” I say in amazement, as we tread up to the amazing and antique Musee D’Orsay.
“Did you know that this museum used to be an old strain station?” my mom reads aloud from our guidebook. We walk into this gorgeous building, full of masterpieces. I look around, and there is an enormous clock painted gold. I wonder how long it took to make such a beautiful clock. My mom hands me a map, telling us where everything is located. My eyes glow with happiness as I see the words “Vincent Van Gogh’s Self Portrait.” I plead with my mom to allow us to go there first, but she insists we must save the best for last.
As we walk around, I stop in front of a lovely Degas painting. I marvel at the girl in the painting. She is so petite and fragile-looking. The girl is like glass, trying not to be broken, and she is wearing a pretty red tutu. I stare at the paintings texture. There are numerous different lines, going this way and that way. Next I walk to a series of statues created by Degas. It starts with just a figure, and then the next figure is a girl. you can tell it is a girl because of the bun and the tutu. The last figure is a polished version of the second figure, but it is a girl wearing a puffy tutu and doing a plie. It must have taken Degas a long time to create such detailed statues.
I am a queen walking up to her throne as I sit down in the comfortable chair in the middle of the gallery. I am as tired as a mother with a newborn baby. I look up at the clock again, noticing all the details and carvings. I think that the clock is a piece of art, just like everything else in the museum. My mom rises from her place beside me, so I follow along, wondering where we are heading.
With excitement, we arrive at the best painting of all, Van Gogh’s self portrait. The painting is as blue as the sky on a sunny day. The picture has so many different brush strokes. It feels as though Van Gogh is going to emerge from the painting and have a conversation with me. The painting is brilliant and beautiful. I am so overjoyed right now. I am utterly stunned just looking at the masterpiece.
I will remember that day forever because that was one of the best works of art I had ever seen. I adored the way all the colors flowed together like a pool of water. It was interesting how he added different colors in the face. I will always remember the stunning, splendid, and stupendous painting. My heart was filled with satisfaction and joy now that I had seen this gorgeous masterpiece.
The Great Escape
“Emma’s gone!” I yelled at my mom. “She just isn’t there!” I searched the floor frantically to find her. Just a minute ago I was feeding her in the bathroom and the second time I checked on her, she was gone. Since Emma is a gecko and is as wee as a mouse, she could be in any tiny place or crevice. I could feel my face getting hot. She could be anywhere!
I rushed to my mom, sister, and brother. “I just checked on Emma and sh-sh-she’s not there!” I stammered. We all hurried to the bathroom and peered into the vacant cage. I was definitely right; she was nowhere to be seen. Right away we took action.
My mom and sister scurried downstairs to get flashlights while my brother and I hunted for Emma. It was getting darkish outside so the flashlights helped out a ton. We searched in every nook and cranny possible: under our bunk bed, beneath the messy dresser, in our crowded closet, and even in my brother’s bright orange room. She couldn’t have just disappeared into thin air, I thought; it just wouldn’t be possible. During the rest of the time we looked, the flashlights were spotlights putting the attention on the main person, only this time they couldn’t find that main person.
A week passed. It seemed like just yesterday when I got Emma. I could remember when I first held her. Her skin as smooth as baby skin and her needle sharp nails pinpricking my hand. Now she was gone. My very first gecko, gone.
That night my mom read my sister and me the story Mustard by Jessel Miller. “A miracle happens every day!” she finished dreamily. My sister stood up to go to the bathroom. Suddenly she exclaimed, “I found her; I found Emma!” Sure enough, there she was crawling out from behind the toilet, making little clickety-clackety sounds on the tile floor. I was overjoyed! It was as if she was ready to come home. I caught her and put her back in her little habitat. Then I fell asleep contented.
Ever since Emma escaped I now watch her much more carefully. She even has a small cage in which I feed her so there is no way she can escape. I have learned that everything needs a little adventure now and then, whether it’s me or my gecko.
A Day at Ke’e
So far, my trip to Hawaii had been great. But I was waiting to get to have some real fun. You know, experience some island magic. I would go anywhere, try anything. Then it happened. My cousin started to talk about taking us the Ke’e, and boy did I get excited. I was ready.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best day to go snorkeling. A hurricane was on its way to Oahu, and we were getting hit with some mild rain and high tides. Don’t worry; we weren’t going to give up. Before I knew what we were going to do about it, we were there. Ke’e was gorgeous!!! The water was as still as the morning dew, and the sky was painted a light blue. Ke’e was a long spit of black lava rock, which suddenly dropped to the ocean, filled with tropical sea life.
I was as excited as a child getting a puppy. I rushed out of the car in my bare feet. It was HOT!!! I hadn’t thought that I would have to put on my thinking cap for vacation, but I wasn’t smart enough to think of one simple equation: sun + black lava rock = hot on feet! I quickly put on my flip flops. As I made my way around, trying not to stub my toes on the rocks, I heard a noise. It was the sound of waves crashing up onto rocks, but the ocean was so far away! I looked down, and there, I saw a huge hole in the rocks, and the salt water was going up and back down. And up and back down again. It was amazing! We made our way to the edge, put on our snorkeling gear, and jumped!
Soon we were speechless as we watched all the colorful tropical sea life. We swam through black lava rock tubes. These lava tubes were formed by hot lava traveling down, and into the ocean, and it made arches in the water. It was pretty hard for me to hold my breath for such a long amount of time, but I could handle it. These undersea arches were like swimming through underwater submarines. It had portholes, and had a dome-like structure. There was another one that was like swimming through a miniature rainbow. It was a perfect arch in the water. I also was lucky enough to see a puffer fish and an eight-legged sea star.
After we got back near land, we had to ride the current up onto a rock ledge, while dodging an occasional vana (sea urchin). It was hard to hoist myself up and onto the ledge, but the good part about being a kid is that you don’t weigh much, so I just let the wave carry me up and safely onto the rock. After this, it is where the fun began.
We all started jumping off rocks every which-way. My dad tried taking pictures of me and Heidi (my cousin) in mid-jump. It was really hard to pose in mid-air, but it was truly fun: You know, the great feeling of your stomach leaping out of your mouth, then stopping as you plunged into the water. I jumped, dived, and cannon-balled from fifteen feet high lava rock ledges. It was fantastic!!!
After that, I knew I could do anything. Go anywhere. My cousin said she could take me anywhere, plop me into the water, and instantly I would become a mermaid. I could swim far lengths. Ke’e was just the beginning. I had far more amazing places to experience. I knew without a doubt that I would visit far more amazing places, but I will always remember my day at Ke’e.
Good Night, Faith and My Very First Play Date
One Experience from Two Perspectives
Good Night, Faith
It is mid-March and a peaceful evening at Beyond the Glory Bar and Grill until Faith and I walk in.
Sploosh! “Fa-aith!” I yell. “Did you really just spill my Shirley Temple?”
When I stand up it looks like I accidentally urinated in my pants. All I am thinking in my mind is these two things: This means payback and this is going to be the best night ever.
“Yummm,” I utter, as our creamy, chocolate-covered and to-die-for sundae arrives. This is the perfect time to get Faith back for spilling my drink. As Faith gets a spoonful of ice cream, I come out of nowhere like a ninja and push Faith’s arm. She gets ice cream all over her and looks like a clown. Giggling, we run to the bathroom like two supersonic jets gliding through the food-scented air. I notice two elderly women staring at us, probably thinking we are psychotic.
Soon after, we leave the restaurant to head home. I am laughing the whole way home and anticipating what we will do next.
“Crunch, crunch!” the rocks cry out for help as they get trapped under out feet while we walk to the barn. Apparently, my sister’s goat, Delilah, doesn’t like Faith, which means, Delilah is in full attack mode, butting and nibbling at Faith. Of course, I am laughing. Faith scrambles behind me so I can be her human shield.
“Bang!” yells the door as I slam it shut when we arrive inside the house. Faith is glued to “Fruit Ninja.” After a few hours of that, we head to my room. Sadly, I have to sleep on the unyielding ground, while Faith gets to be nestled in my cozy, warm, and soft bed. Talk about unfair!
At eleven o’clock, Faith and I crave rice crispy treats, and Faith craves “Fruit Ninja,” but I tell her no more ninja. I come upon an app, which records you while making the sounds of that dog treat commercial, when the dog smells bacon and goes crazy. Naturally, we have to try it.
“Hahahahhahaha, Faith, you look hilarious,” I squeal with laughter.
Then we determine it is time to “hit the hay.”
Vroom, vroom! The next morning, my dad and I fly up the enormous hill on our four-wheeler, while Faith and my mom trail behind us looking scared to death. We explore the vast and bumpy land on our grass-scented four-wheelers. Faith is a little girl learning to ride a bike for the first time, terrified but ready to go. Luckily, this is not the first time she has driven, although she almost ran into a tree. Faith is a crazy monkey when she puts her hands on the worn-out handle bars because you never know what she is going to do.
When we arrive back home, Faith’s time at my house at my house has ended.
As Faith hops out of my monster-sized truck, a tear runs down my rosy, red cheek. I don’t know why, but I feel like she is going away to sea.
“Bye, Faith,” I stutter like an old truck starting.
“Bye, Carsyn,” she says softly.
When we leave, I see Faith’s hand waving back and forth, and I wave back. My head lies on the cold glass window; I think, Faith is an amazing friend. She sticks by my side through thick and thin. She cheers me up when I am down, and loves me for who I am.That is what makes Faith my HERO.
My Very First Play Date
“Let me see it,” whispers Carsyn during story time.
“No, you are going to pull it out,” I reply.
“No, I won’t. I promise; just let me see it,” she insists.
“Okay, here you go!” I open my mouth. YANK! YANK! She pulls out my first tooth! I raise my petite hand and ask to go to the office to get a case for my tooth. I can tell from the look on her face that Carsyn wants to ditch school and bring me, too, so that we can have our play date. When we finally hear Mr. Keig yell at the top of his lungs, “Time to pack up and leave!” Carsyn and I look at each other and start jumping up and down like we are kangaroos.
When we get outside, we hear the rumbling sound of Carsyn’s truck and smell the burning scent of the diesel. We run as fast as our little legs can carry us. Carsyn and I hop in the front seats and turn on the radio; while we rock out to our favorite jam, we are movie stars on the red carpet while people ask for our autographs.
When we arrive at her house, Carsyn introduces me to her animals. I think my head is going to explode with all those names. We go inside to do our ABC’s, and then we are going to catch tadpoles. When we hop on the four-wheeler, I ask if I can drive it, and of course, Carsyn is polite and says yes. I am a little nervous about it, but I am ready to drive. Carsyn looks at me in curiosity, and she is a little worried, too. I put my hands on the wobbly handlebars and push it full speed. Uh oh, there is a tree right in front of us. “AHHH! MOM, MOM!” I hear Carsyn yelling. Carsyn is a new born baby crying at the flashing.
I dodge the old and discolored tree, and ride up the mountain. I take a deep breath and see the muddy pond. Carsyn’s mom jumps off the four-wheeler, and sticks her foot in the gooey mud. She pulls and pulls, but her foot is glued like a piece of paper. Carsyn and I laugh our heads off! When we have caught about twenty tadpoles, we head back to her house.
When we are naming all the tadpoles, I decide to grab one of them, and I pop it on Carsyn’s head!
“Faith, did you really just do that,” Carsyn hollers.
“Yep, now you smell like tadpole guts,” I respond. I run away from her because I know revenge is coming. Carsyn hides behind a corner with a squirming tadpole in her hand. Carsyn’s hand is feeling sick to her palm because of the tadpole. Carsyn is a hawk waiting for its prey to arrive as she waits for me. I run outside and hide in the barn. Carsyn finally comes outside hollering my name, “FAITH! FAITH!”
Carsyn opens the barn door to find me rolled up in a ball behind the hay. We hear a car rolling up, and it is my mom. Carsyn walks me back to her house and grabs my things. When I am in my car, I look out of my window and see Carsyn waving her little hand goodbye. I think to myself, Carsyn will always be my best friend in the whole world and this play date is going to be a memory forever. Carsyn will always be my HERO!
Costa Rican Adventure
“Kevin!” my mom called anxiously, “I have something exciting to show you!” I ran over to where my mom was sitting in our condo in Costa Rica. Lying in front of her were a few tickets. As I read them quietly, my eyes bulged. “We’re going to see leatherback turtles on the beach tonight!” I shouted in amazement.
Well, we have our tickets and we will be leaving for the beach at around midnight. This is going to be spectacular, as I have been informed that the turtle could lay close to one hundred eggs. But now I will have to go to bed, so that I can be ready for the midnight walk on the beach. See you in a few hours.
We are all walking anxiously down the road with our flashlights to the beach patrol station. There we wait for the patrol, a small group of leatherback turtle experts searching the beach for turtles, to report back to the station. We have been waiting for hours and there is little to do here in the dark of the night. Some people are watching a strange Spanish movie, but I am too excited to watch. Even the beach is getting tired, waiting for the turtles to come.
The patrol is finally back with good news, and we are leaving to see the giant turtles now. The guides will use infra-red light so as to not bother the sensitive turtles, but we will still be able to see them in the moonlight. It is a long, tiring walk down the soft, sandy beach, and I wonder if it is all worth it.
When we finally arrive to where the turtle is nesting, I see her enormous size. We slowly walk over to her as she is digging a hole in the sand. She gently turns and begins to lay her eggs. There are so many piling up, one after another, like an army of eggs being made. It is time to leave this breathtaking sight, and as we walk back, we spot another turtle. It is a green turtle and we stop for a few minutes to quietly look.
This has been an amazing sight, one I will remember for the rest of my life! The turtle was even a little bigger than me! All the sights, colors, and textures of Costa Rica are unforgettable, and I will remember them forever!
Almost Washed Away
“Beep, beep! It’s almost time to go,” my mom told me. It was six a.m., and I was extremely tired. My mom was honking the car horn like an alarm clock nonstop until my brother, my dad, and I were in the car.
Then in a split second, we were off to Santa Cruz! The ride was four hours, and I got bored really quickly. Then I fell asleep. Next, I slowly woke up again to the shaking movement of the car stopping. We were at the huge hotel, The Marriott. Once we did a quick check-in, we sped off to the Boardwalk.
I was so excited when I saw the awesome speed rides, but I was scared when I saw the drop rides. Soon my brother was dragging me onto a big water ride with an enormous drop. I started to shiver. Sadly, I was in the fourth grade, and I was tall enough for the ride. It was cold on the ride. When we went down, I closed my eyes and screamed. Finally, it was over, and then we went on the beach because I was too frightened to go on any other rides. So we went to the water by the Boardwalk.
It was steaming hot like a pot of soup over the fire, but the ocean felt like an ice cold slushy. When I was in the water, I noticed big waves, and when I say big, I mean really, really big waves. So my brother made up a game. It was about chasing a wave, and then letting it chase you back to shore. We played this game for a long time, and within five minutes, I was soaking wet.
Then, as I was in the middle of the sea and shore, I bent down to scratch my foot. All of a sudden, bam! I was tackled by a giant blue monster. I couldn’t breathe at all, and I was lying on the sand in seconds. Then I started to move backwards, as the wake began dragging me into its treacherous dungeon.
However, I was not going to be a prisoner so I started to fight back. I dug my toes into the sand, I gripped a rock nearby, and I pulled myself up. Then I wobbled and ran over to the place where my mom and dad were sitting.
“Smile,” my mom said, as she flashed a small silver camera out from her hands. I gave a small one.
“Land,” I gasped.
Then I collapsed onto the blanket, still gurgling sea water. It tasted like seaweed mixed with a pound of salt. I quickly coughed it out. Finally, when my body as ocean-free, I told my mom what had happened and closed my eyes.
My mom said she had not seen anything, perhaps because it happened so quickly. Nevertheless, it had felt like a whole half hour to me! When it was time to leave, I was glad. We spent only one night at the hotel, and left for home the next day.
At last, I was away from the wave. Now I am more careful when I am playing in the sea, and every day, I see that picture from when I almost drowned, and it reminds me to be cautious. I am so glad that the wave didn’t take me because I would have been in the water’s prison forever. However, I guess it was a great trip after all because of that one most memorable experience in the ocean.
Tenacious Tubing Accidents
Vroom, vroom, gurgle, gurgle went the boat’s engine as the rope extended, bringing Kayla and me out into the desolate, deserted Lake Sonoma. “Emma, you’re shaking,” Kayla said in an amused tone. It was then that I realized that I wasn’t shaking from the cold, but from the mere idea of Daniel, Kayla’s dad, driving our boat.
Take One of Kayla and Emma’s tubing experience…ACTION! Suddenly, I feel us sinking, as Kayla and I somersault into the deep, dark lake, flipping outrageously. From what I’ve learned of Kayla, don’t be near her when she’s mad and her jaw goes crooked. If you are, then you are in trouble! Well, I obviously forgot this, so when I got out of the twisted ball Kayla and I made under water, Kayla unleashes her wrath on me, and pushes me beneath the water for no apparent reason. Do I know why? No!
“Kayla, what was that for?” I interrogated Kayla.
“Your leg was caught on me,” she told me. We sorted things out and decided to try again.
“Kayla and Emma, you guys need to lean back before you go. That’s why you sunk,” Daniel instructed us.
Take Two of Kayla and Emma’s tubing experience…ACTION! Daniel decides to trick us by going straight and at a normal pace. Then suddenly…he begins doing fast donuts (going in circles), which are the worst. We are caught in a three-way tsunami. Daniel knows his waves. Clearly, he wants to wipe us out. So when he discovers that Kayla and I are still snug, tight in the tube, he chooses to go full out. He starts to move the boat in slow donuts (which is even worse than fast donuts because it is like being on a sailboat in an ocean during a storm). The next thing I know, Kayla is holding on for dear life. I am just about to die laughing until the wipeout wave comes. I fly high into the air and land on my left shoulder onto Kayla’s back. Man, is she going to be mad! I swim away as fast as I can, like a fish swimming away from a hungry shark. The shark is always faster and catches up to its prey, but when Kayla swims up next to me, she is la8ghing and choking on water, saying she will never forget this experience. Thank goodness she didn’t kill me!
When I see the orange flag being held up by Cole, Kayla’s little brother, I think, HE IS NEXT! Kayla and I take a break so we can catch our breath. We eat our turkey sandwiches stuffed with Nacho Cheese Doritos while we watch the torment happen to Cole. Out of nowhere, he starts flipping outrageously, but he still has a grip on that tube. I feel like I may choke on my sandwich seeing Cole so scared. Next Daniel makes a sharp turn, and Cole goes airborne because he is so light. Finally, Cole decides to take a break, too.
Now Linda, Kayla’s mom, wants to take us for a spin. This can’t be that bad. Linda is a normal driver, or so I think. Linda is just a clueless, innocent, hot mama. I know she won’t hurt us, but she isn’t an expert driver. What if something goes wrong because she cannot stop the boat? I put those thoughts behind me and climb onto the tube. It is so quiet and serene out in the lake. The only thing I can hear is Kayla blabbing off about random things. It becomes annoying after a while so I usually just zone her out.
Before I know it, I am holding onto Kayla’s side of the tube with one arm, while my other arm is crumpled at my side, and I am lying over Kayla and the tube like an “x.” Well, at least Kayla is safe and sound. “Emma? Ha ha ha ha! What are you doing?” she says, laughing and choking on her spit that flies into my hair. Wow, Linda is doing pretty well as the boat’s driver. I think that too early apparently because Linda starts zigzagging crazily, like a kid cutting paper for the very first time. It is insane! I feel bad for Kayla because I’m bouncing right on her now. Bang! I fly up and land on my stomach right on top of Kayla on the tube. I am now hanging off the edge of the tube. Fling! That’s the sound of me flying off the tube and into the treacherous lake.
Finally, I am done tubing for the day so I put on my clothes and wrap a blanket around me. I have learned my lesson! If you want an experience, go tubing with the Kupers. If you want to be a wimp, don’t tube with that family. I will always remember this experience.
My Extreme and Deathly Fright
It was a horribly hot day, and the sun was melting me. I had pounds of butterflies in my stomach. Every time I drew closer to my absolute doom, I thought more about whether or not I really wanted to do this. Finally, it was time.
My sister and I climbed onto the ripped-up, red seat and pulled down the hot, sweaty handle that would soon be protecting us in the car that would carry us through the scorching, sickening, insane, storming roller coaster ride called Roar, which you should eternally never ride.
I was like a little innocent bug about to be face-to-face with one giant and one big, black bear. As soon as the ride started, we had enormous, nervous smiles on our faces and shaking Chihuahua bodies. The ride started out leisurely, but when we made the first turn, all I could see was a blurred Six Flags, my sister, and my babysitter. I heard screaming teenagers and clapping hands at animal shows. I saw all the grand roller coasters, splashing water, and believe it or not, I saw the drop we were about to take and all the twists and turns that would make us feel sick. I smelled the smelly smell of something smelly that I think was gross corn dogs, ridiculously stinky fish, and perspiring people. I felt my sister’s sweaty hand and the ripped-up red seat that scratched my legs. I also tasted my sandwich from earlier in the day and wondered how this could become any worse.
I soon found out how because the roller coaster was going up, up, up the roller coaster hill, so I grabbed hands with my sister and then, “AAAAAHHHHHHHHH! Get me off of here!” we both screamed in unison.
“It’s okay. Relax,” counseled my babysitter, Alisa. However, it was far from okay. It was the end of my life. I just knew there wasn’t going to be any tomorrow for me. I was going to be dead.
Then all of a sudden, I heard the most deathly sound anybody could ever hear in her whole, entire life: the sound of roller coaster tracks. We went up, down, around, and almost upside down! At this point, I felt sick. I had a horrible stomachache, and my head was spinning at what was what, and I felt weak, weak as if I had no bones in my body at all. I call that bum bones. Although I didn’t know what to do, there was one alternative left to me since I had a brain—to think. So I thought while I was breathing heavily, twisting and turning and screaming, and I just decided to put my head down and try to let the rocking created by the giant and the big, black bear soothe me, but that was the impossibility of the century because to think and to try to relax on a roller coaster…let me tell you now, it’s impossible!
As soon as we passed through another couple of twists and turns, it was like the ride would never end, and I would have to be on this torturous roller coaster the rest of my life. I would have to sleep on the roller coaster, eat on the roller coaster, and even do my business on a roller coaster. However, what scared me the most was that I would never see my family again, but then I remembered my thought from earlier. I was going to be dead, as dead as anyone could ever be.
“Please, have only one more rumble, rumble,” I begged silently. “Please have only one more ‘big, fantastic turn.’ Please have only one more anything,” I thought because nobody wants to be as dead as anybody could ever be. Luckily, there was only one more rumble, rumble. Luckily, there was only one more “big, fantastic turn,” but there was not only one more of anything because we did a final roller coaster hill drop and then, “AAAAAHHHHHHHHH! Get me off of here!” we both screamed again.
“It’s okay. Relax,” said my babysitter, and luckily, this time it was okay. We were right back where we had started, the place where we first had our big, nervous smiles on our faces. We were where I learned that I can overcome my fears and I have the guts to do anything. I learned that anybody can do anything, and that when people tell you that you can do something, they are right. You can.
Launching Personal Essay
It’s nearly November, which means it’s time for me to start teaching my students how to craft personal essays. I use Calkins and Gilette’s book for my teaching points, but deviate from their text when it comes to teaching the actual lessons since I’ve tweaked every lesson each year that I’ve taught it.
I recall dreading personal essay when I was about to teach it for the first time in 2004. What could be so exciting about a five paragraph essay, I wondered. If you’ve read this blog for the past year or so, you already know that something magical happens to students’ writing during this unit of study. It becomes much more reflective and thoughtful. Hence, I’ve grown to LOVE teaching this unit.
Tomorrow, I’m going to immerse my students in this genre by sharing five of my former students’ personal essay. They’re going to fill out this form (whose lines & page breaks got slightly distorted when I converted it with Scribd) as they read each one.