When Connor was born, his Uncle Ted gave him a blue and green polka dot blanket. But this wasn’t just any blanket. This blanket had fuzzy green fabric on one side and silky white fabric with blue and green polka dots on the other. This blanket carried Connor home from the hospital. It kept him warm throughout the winter. It rubbed against his cheeks when he went to sleep. It wrapped around him when he was sad. Its corner gathered in Connor’s little hands while he sucked his thumb. It helped him sleep at night. And most importantly, it helped him stop crying when nothing else could. This wasn’t just any blanket. This was Connor’s blanket. This was his ‘bippie,’ and Connor couldn’t imagine being without it. Ever.
When Connor’s 5th birthday came around, his mommy got him a very special present. Wrapped in a blue and green polka dot box was another bippie—the exact same color, size, and feel. Only this bippie didn’t have holes in it like the one Connor had taken everywhere he went. His mommy said he needed to have a backup bippie just in case the original got lost like it had so many times before.
After Connor had carried both bippies around the house for a few days, his arms almost too small to hold both, his mom decided two bippies was too much. While he was taking a nap, she sneaked the old bippie out from under Connor’s arm and went to work. Connor woke in a couple of hours, reached down to grab his two bippies, and only felt one. Where was the original bippie? Connor started to panic. He ran into the kitchen crying and dragging his second bippie behind him to tell his mom that his very first special bippie had been stolen. When he ran in, his second bippie trailing behind him,When he got to the kitchen he saw his original bippie—well, parts of it anyway—on the kitchen table. on the kitchen table cut up into pieces. He was very confused. And not only confused, but very very upset. His eyes started welling up with tears and his whole body drooped to the floor.
His mom saw the look on his face and scooped him and his second bippie up in her arms. “Connor, I made a you a quilt out of your original bippie because it was starting to fall apart.” She kissed him on his head and Connor looked up at her, the corner of the second bippie in his hand and his thumb in his mouth.
“What’s a quilt?” Connor mumbled over his thumb.
“A quilt is a really warm HUGE bippie. But it’s the kind of bippie that has to stay in your room. You can only take your second bippie with you.”
Connor thought for a moment and then squirmed down out of his mother’s arms and jumped with joy. A HUGE bippie?? It felt like his birthday again! Connor’s mother smiled and helped him carry the quilt into his room.
After a summer of lying on the grass, eating popsicles, sitting by the pool with his little toes in the water—all of course, with his mommy and his bippie by his side, Connor saw the leaves start falling off of the trees. He remembered his mommy saying that when that happens, it’s time to start school. He knew that time was coming, and he was a starting to get a little scared. He’d never been to school before and didn’t know what to expect.
School was starting the next day and Connor’s mom sat him at the kitchen table. In front of him was a pile of a box of sparkly new crayons, a brand new superhero lunch box, some new and shiny rubber dinosaur figurines, stickers, and a nice big blue backpack. Connor eyed the whole pile , his face in awe, and went straight for the lunchbox. He stuffed all of the dinosaurs inside and zipped it up with satisfied sigh. His mom smiled and sat down next to him. As Connor played with all of his new school supplies, pulling all of the crayons out of the box, putting the stickers all over the table and himself, his mom thought about bringing up the topic of leaving the bippie at home for school. But Connor was too distracted and she knew this was going to be a last minute conversation. After dinner and his bath, his mom scooped him up, put him in his bed, and kissed his forehead. “Get some sleep, Sweetie. All of that fun you’re going to have tomorrow will tire you out!” Connor smiled, closed his eyes, and dreamt about his first day of school.
Connor woke up feeling nervous. His dream hadn’t been a great one—he lost his Bip on the playground and no one, not even the teacher, could find it. He reminded himself it was just a dream, just like that dream he’d had about the monster who lived in his sock drawer. Then he got out of bed. He put on his favorite t-shirt his mom had pulled out and placed on his chair for him. He could smell something from the kitchen and once he finished getting dressed, he grabbed his bippie and his new blue backpack and followed the scent. Connor’s mom had made him eggs, him pancakes with happy faces with blueberries and strawberries as the eyes, nose and mouth, eggs, and a tall glass of orange juice. His favorite. He sat down on his booster seat, draped his bippie around his neck, as he usually did, and dug in. After he finished, his mom helped him wipe off the syrup from around his mouth (and his forehead—Connor was a messy eater—and ) and lifted him up off of his seat. Before she set him on the ground, she gave him a hug and asked, , hugging him before setting him on the ground. “Are you ready for your big day, my big boy?”
Connor nodded his head and smiled.
“You’re going to do great! And make so many new friends! I bet you’ll even find a best friend!”
His mom always knew how to make him feel better. And he was even starting to get a little excited.
“Can I bring my bip with me?” Connor asked.
“Well, Sweetie, now that you’re growing up and going to big boy school, I think it might be time to leave your bippie at home.”
Connor’s eyes started welling up with tears, but he didn’t want to show his mom that he was upset, so he stuck his thumb in his mouth and squinted really hard until his tears went away. But of course, his mom saw anyway.
“Okay, okay, let’s just put your bippie in your backpack and if you get sad or scared you can just take it out. How’s that?”
Connor smiled and hugged his mom’s legs. She always knew what to do. With his bippie zipped up in his backpack and his seat bealt buckled in tight around his waist, Connor was off to start his first day of Kindergarten.
Walking into the classroom holding his mommy’s hand, Connor felt his nerves disappear and felt a wave of excitement. He saw all of the other little boys and girls running around, playing with the building blocks on the carpet, sitting in the reading corner flipping through their favorite picture books that their mommys have read to them, scribbling with crayons at the art tables, giggling and laughing—Connor couldn’t wait to join in. His mom squatted down, kissed him on the cheek, took his backpack, and whispered, “Now, go have some fun!” As Connor made his way to the center of the classroom, he turned to get one last look at his mom. She was whispering something to the teacher and handing her Connor’s backpack. They both looked up, smiled and waved to Connor. Connor smiled back and turned back towards his new classmates. He was ready to start his day.
By lunchtime, Connor had met almost everyone in his class. He met Sarah B. He met Roger. He met Annie. He met Kate. He met Blake. He met Hunter. He met Mason. He met Sarah H. He met Alex. He met Christian. He met Mackenzie, she goes by Mackie. He met Adam. He met Maria. He met Penny. He met Olivia. And he met Sam. Connor decided Sam and Christian were going to be his best friends. The best friends his mommy said he would make. Connor was proud he’d already done something so major on his first day. Maybe he really was growing up.
So after sharing some Cheetos and a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Sam, Christian, and Connor asked the teacher, Ms. Amy, if they could play outside. Ms. Amy said yes, but they had to stay where she could see them from the window. The three boys ran to the door, racing each other on the way. Once outside, they started a game of Red Light, Green Light—Connor was playing against Christian.
“Green light!” yelled Sam from the sidelines. Christian and Connor started running as fast as they could.
Christian and Connor stopped right in their path.
Christian and Connor started up again, getting faster and faster.
“Red light!” Sam’s voice was getting quieter and quieter as Christian and Connor got further and further away.
“Green light… Red light!” Tricked by Sam’s commands, Connor started and stopped as fast as he could but lost his balance and fell on the concrete. Christian and Sam ran over to him and helped him up. Again, trying to hold back his tears, Connor squinted his eyes as hard as he could and took a deep breath. But when he opened them again, he saw blood dripping down his knee, and he couldn’t hold back his tears any longer.
Christian and Sam brought Connor to Ms. Amy to get some help.
“What happened, Sweetie? Do you need a bandaid?” Ms. Amy said in a gentle voice as she crouched down to Connor’s level.
“Let me see…” She reached down to Connor’s knee with a damp towel to wipe off the blood and Connor shrieked.
“I just want my bippie!” Confused, Christian and Sam looked at each other.
“What’s a ‘bippie?’” they said.
Ms. Amy went to get his bippie from his backpack in the closet and told Connor to wait at her desk until she got back.
When she got back with his bippie, Connor calmed down and wiped away his tears with the corner of his blanket. Ms. Amy tapped him on the top of his head and said she’d be right back with some bandaids. Since he’d been sitting there, Christian and Sam had gathered a few of the other kids to tell them what happened. They all stood whispering near the art table while looking over at Connor. When Connor looked back at them, he realized right away that they weren’t concerned with how he was feeling—they were making fun of him for bringing his bippie to school!
“What a baby,” Sam said.
“Only little babies have blankies,” Annie said.
“Why does he call it a bippie?” Hunter asked.
“Why did he bring it to school?” Sarah B. asked.
“That’s what little babies do. He probably misses his mommy too!” Christian said, and they all started laughing.
Connor wanted to cry again, but this time because he felt like he had no friends. Everyone was making fun of him and now they all thought he was a baby. He remembered his mom saying he should leave his bippie at home because that’s what big boys do, but what would he have done if he didn’t have it when he hurt his knee? Connor was confused and he felt all alone. He just wanted his first day of school to be over.
Waiting outside at the curb with the rest of the students, Connor sat with his head down until his mom’s car pulled up. She jumped out and, expecting to see a happy Connor, made her way over to her son for a big first-day-of-school-hug-and-kiss. But when she saw him, she knew right away that something was wrong. On the way home, Connor told his mom about what had happened. He told her about how he’d fallen and how Ms. Amy got his bippie. He told her about how the other kids laughed at him for bringing his bip to school. He told her about how he felt like he doesn’t have any friends. Then Connor’s mom told him it would be okay and that he just needs to give his classmates time to get to know him. But Connor wasn’t so sure that would work.
The next morning, Connor stood over his backpack with his bippie in his hand trying to decide whether or not to bring it with him. But was that even a question? Of course he had to take his bippie with him. What if he fell again? What if the kids were mean to him again? He’d need someone to be there for him, and since his mommy couldn’t come, his bip would have to do.
When he got to class, the kids were running around like they had been the day before. No one seemed to remember what had happened. So Connor put his backpack in the backpack closet, found Christian and Sam, and joined their game. This time they were playing superheroes, and Connor got to pretend to be Superman. Sam was Spiderman and Christian was Batman.
At around 1 o’clock, Ms. Amy announced naptime. All of the kids made their way over to the reading corner where pillows and mats were set up. But Connor knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep without his bippie. He had no choice—he was going to have to get it out of his backpack again and get made fun of… again. When no one was looking, Connor made his way over to the backpack closet and pulled out his bippie. He tried to think of a way to hide it until he could make it over to the reading corner and lie down before anyone could see it. Maybe he could carry it behind his back? No… someone would see. Maybe he could try to put it in his pocket? No… his bippie was too big. Maybe he could stuff it under his shirt? Perfect—that’s what he’d do. If anyone asked why his tummy was so big, he would just tell them he’d had a really big lunch. So Connor stuffed his bippie under his shirt and made his way over to the reading corner. He was almost there when someone called out, “Hey everyone! Look! Connor brought his ‘bippie’ back to school!” Connor looked down and saw the corner of his bippie just creeping out from under his shirt. His plan didn’t work. They were all going to make fun of him again, and no one would want to play with him, because who wants to be friends with a baby?
Back at home, Connor told his mom that he didn’t want to go back to school. He told her that his classmates keep making fun of him, that he felt lonely, and that he really just missed his mommy. There was no one on his side and he felt like a big baby. Maybe he wasn’t grown up enough to go to school yet. This time, his mom didn’t know what to say. All she could do was give him hugs so he wouldn’t feel so lonely. Lots and lots of hugs.
That night, Connor went to bed still feeling sad and alone. He had trouble falling asleep even though he had his bippie wrapped around him. Finally, Connor started to drift off, and he started to dream. He dreamt that he was Superman, flying over his school, saving all of the little kids from falling and scraping their knees just like he had. He swooped down to the playground, picked them up before they hit the ground, and saved the day.
The next morning, Connor woke up with a great idea. He knew exactly how he would get the other kids at school to stop making fun of him and his bippie.
This time, when Connor walked into the classroom, everyone stopped what they were doing and looked at him. They all had their mouths wide open and the room was silent. Then someone asked, “Where’d you get that?”
“Can I have one?”
“Can you really fly?” someone else said.
“Is it made out of …. Of your bippie?”
Connor couldn’t help but smile. Just like his mommy made his old hippie into a quilt, he'd turned his hippie into a superhero cape. He put his arms on his hips, puffed out his chest, and stood tall, just like Superman. He knew there and then that we would never be made fun of for his bippie again. Not only was he a super genius for coming up with the idea, he had become his very own superhero.
Girls Can Play in Forts too
Maisie loves her older brother, Milo. Growing up, Maisie and Milo did everything together. They played hide and seek together. They played princesses and dragons together. They cannon-balled into the pool together. They washed their dog together. They even shared a room together. But ever since Milo started first grade, he stopped playing with his little sister and moved into his own room.
Milo’s friends, Henry and Walker, would come over after school and they’d play all sorts of games, but there were no girls allowed. They’d play pirates together. They’d play kickball together. They’d play capture the flag together. And they’d build forts together. They’d build some of the greatest forts Maisie had ever seen, and boy, did she want to play with them.
Maisie would try over and over to play with Milo and his friends but they wouldn’t let her. She was too young, too little and she was a girl. “No girls allowed,” they’d say. Maisie would cry and keep trying but over and over to join them, but they’d push her away. All Maisie wanted was to play with them. Even though moving into their own rooms allowed Maisie to put up all of her princess decorations and keep her stuffed animals where she wanted them, she always felt so alone in her room without her brother around. When she had a bad dream in the middle of the night, she had to go all the way to her mom’s room because her brother wasn’t there anymore to tell her it was just a dream. When she got bored with her toys, Milo’s weren’t there for her to play with. When it rained at night, there was no one to play hide and seek with flashlights with in the dark. Overall, Milo’s moving and growing up was really inconvenient for Maisie, and she didn’t like it one bit. No matter how angry Milo would make her by not letting her play with him and his friends, she still missed him every day.
One day, Maisie saw the boys building a fort in between the two oak trees in her backyard. She ran outside as fast as she could. “Can I come inside?” Maisie yelled from outside the fort. Milo stuck his head out from behind the curtain made out of his Spiderman bed sheet, “No. Go away Maisie.”
“But why not? I brought snacks!” She held out a baggie of pretzels and some juice boxes.
“Girls don’t play in forts,” yelled back one of Milo’s friends.
Discouraged, Maisie went inside to tell her mom. “Sweetie, maybe Milo wants to spend time with just his friends. Why don’t you go play in your room?”
Dragging her feet behind her, Maisie went to find something else to do. She played with her dolls for a while. When she got bored of that, she started coloring in her coloring book. But when she got bored of that, she started looking around her room for something more entertaining. She could hear the boys yelling from their fort outside and Maisie got frustrated DESCRIBE MAISIE’S FRUSTRATION. Girls can play in forts if they want to! she thought to herself. She decided right then that she was going to make her very own fort. Maisie made a mental list of things she had to do. She thought of how her brother made his fort and went from there.
1. Gather the supplies.
2. Build the walls and roof
3. Decorate the outside (make it pretty).
4. Put up a “No boys allowed” sign.
Maisie grabbed her princess sheet off of her bed, the quilt her grandma made her, a few pillows, and some feather boas that she could use as rope. She dragged two chairs, one by one, from the kitchen table into her room. She went to the attic and got an old broom. She even snuck into Milo’s room and snatched his hockey stick. Maisie threw everything into a pile on her fuzzy pink rug, wiped the little bead of sweat off of her forehead and took a deep breath. Time to get to work.
Maisie set up the two chairs facing each other and leaned Milo’s hockey stick up against her bed. She draped her princess sheet over the corners of the chairs and the hockey stick and saw her fort beginning to take shape right before her eyes. She then climbed on top of her bed to try to put her quilt over the top, but as soon as she got up, she realized she still wasn’t tall enough to reach. She knew she’d have to throw the quilt so it would make it over the top of the tall kitchen chairs. But as she threw it, the hockey stick fell down and Maisie tumbled off of her bed, landing right on the hockey stick. Maisie started crying. Not only had she gotten hurt, but her fort had fallen down. But she had to keep trying. She draped the sheets over the chair once more, this time, leaving the hockey stick out and putting in a step ladder instead. Finally, her fort was coming together.
While she was working, tying the boas together and decorating the inside of the fort with all kinds of pillows and stuffed animals, Maisie’s mom knocked on the door. “I brought you some snacks!” She set them down next to Maisie and patted her on the head and smiled. “No time for snacks, Mommy! I have to finish my fort!” Maisie’s mom laughed. “That’s my girl,” she winked and slowly closed the door.
A few more hours passed and Maisie’s fort was finally finished. She had brooms and lamps to prop up the blankets and sheets, pillows for comfort, some books and toys for entertainment, snacks for when she got hungry, and she even set up some Christmas lights that her mom had brought in for her for decorations. She’d built the greatest fort she’d ever seen and it was all hers. And for the final touch, Maisie got a piece of paper from her coloring book and wrote in big letters, “NO BOYS ALLOWED,” and taped the sign to the front entrance of her fort. She stood outside, hands on her hips, smiled a big satisfied smile, and went into her fort.
It started getting dark outside, so Milo, Henry, and Walker came inside for dinner. They all took there places at the table and Milo noticed Maisie was sitting in front of her Hello Kitty plate. “Where’s Maisie?” Milo said to his friends. They all shrugged their shoulders and began to look around. They looked all over the kitchen and living room, but she was nowhere to be seen. Milo walked up to Maisie’s bedroom door and knocked, but as he did, the door slowly opened. The three boys stepped into the room and their jaws dropped. In front of them was the greatest fort they had ever seen. Twice as big as theirs with decorations and snacks! The boys couldn’t believe their eyes.
“Maisie?” The three boys said all at once.
“Welcome, welcome, welcome to Maisie’s Magical World of Wonder!” Maisie pushed open the curtain made of her princess sheets with her crown on her head, her favorite pink tutu around her waist, and twinkling lights all around her.
“Forts aren’t just for boys, huh?” Maisie smiled and did a little twirl. The boys stood with their mouths open in awe at her fort and seemed to agree in silence.
“Can we come inside?” Milo asked, his head down and shuffling his feet.
Maisie smiled and said, “as long as you take your muddy shoes off first,” and she pulled the curtain back, pulled down her “No Boys Allowed” sign, and gave a little bow.
I grew up in a big household with lots of siblings. Because of that, I learned how to stand up for myself, how to love and care for others, and how to think on my feet. All of my life, my mom has encouraged me to be creative, to be innovative, and to be proud of who I am, and that’s what I tried to express in “Bip.” I want to pay homage to my relationship with my mom and how well she’s raised each and every one of my siblings. I am a student, a daughter, a big and little sister, and a fellow ‘bippie’ owner.