Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Buttering Up Highlights (Day 68, Year 2)

Friends, I actually did something on my writing to-do list! I applied for a Highlights Foundation Scholarship to take some classes and attend a writing retreat on non-fiction writing for children!

Funny thing: I wrote about my desire to write science/medical non-fiction for children while my husband has downstairs explaining biology to one of our children in preparation for a test tomorrow! 

The Highlights Committee will make a decision mid-April and according to the auto-reply I am free to call or email if I have questions. Do you think tonight is too soon to leave a voicemail? Should I wait until tomorrow?

I did, in a very brave, daring move, provide the Highlights reviewers with a link to this blog. This blog is NOT child friendly and it is filled with typos. There is some science in it, but sometimes it is science that is not peer-reviewed.  I did note that this blog was a place where all sorts of levels of writing happens--from big meaningful wins to lazy short pieces to shocking rambles, like today. 

Hopefully, they are not scared away.

I just realized they could be reading this! Hi, Highlights! 

I know this might sound like sucking up; however, I have to take a moment to share my love of Highlights. My Nana gifted me a Highlights subscription every year until I outgrew Highlights and moved onto to Seventeen magazine (note: I was like 12 and my father would shout," You aren't even 17!" every time my magazine arrived. I can still remember smell the sample of perfume that radiated from those pages filled with content for aspiring 17 year olds.

In every Highlights issue, my favorite pages were Hidden Pictures (and I still do these once in a while when I need a mental break), the crafts pages (I am really good at using old coffee cans and oatmeal containers to make all sorts of things) and the real life stories. I learned so much about everything under the sun from Highlights. I've gotten each of my children subscriptions; but Nicholas is the only one who has really, truly fallen in love. His favorites are not Hidden Pictures (he says it takes too long); but he loves when there are recipes and experiments, sports stories, poems and short stories. 

And for him, the boy who truly struggles with reading, Highlights gives him an accessible place to access in-depth, high level stories that are written in digestable, engaging ways. I think some of his amazing oral vocabulary and ridiculously perfect reading comprehension come from all the hours we've spent reading Highlights together. 

I hope that this love of article reading continues for him--bringing him to enjoy news and features articles as an adult. Reading books is wonderful; but digesting non-fiction is so important to everyone. We need to be lifelong learners as we age. Things are always evolving and changing; and while the foundations we learn in school are important to our greater understanding, the new information is critical for our continued evolution in understanding our world.

During the pandemic, there were all sorts of memes joking about how everyone was now suddenly an infectious disease exper--poking fun and enducing eye rolling at people sharing misinformation or masquerading as medical professionals. And I get it, haha, your next door neighbor is probably not an expert on COVID-19, but at the same time this sort of thinking does all a disservice. 

We should be encouraged to educate ourselves, broaden our understanding, gather information and discuss complex ideas no matter what our education or professional background is. I don't believe there is any science too complex to dissect and explain to a non-scientist. I don't believe that anything should ever separate us from knowledge or discovery.

(Of course, I don't think any of us should like prescribe treatments or diagnosis each other if we are not actually doctors.)

Science is exciting--and constantly unveiling new discoveries. What we think we understand today, will change tomorrow because scientists will keep hypothesizing and experimenting. It is dynamic and exciting and fun to talk about.

For me, understanding the science of childhood cancer and the research being done has given me a certian ownership in the process and a true belief that their will be cures. Science and medical understanding held up when my brother was dying and I had to make decisions about organ donation. The pursuit of understanding the world through science has helped me understand my own world, even in times of crisis. 

I do feel that it is a bit of an imperative to write about childhood cancer and research for children. After all, cancer happens to children and to their siblings and friends and cousins and classmates. I know talking through the facts about cancer have helped my own children process what has happened to their sister. And I also know getting children excited about biology and oncology and genetic researchers can inspire the next generation of researchers. The kids who ask endless questions today are the ones who will find cures tomorrow. 

I hope this opportunity works out for me; and if it does not, I know one thing: odds are someday something will, as long as I keep trying. (and that's science, right? maybe?) 


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