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June 20, 2018

HOW DO I PICK A FAVORITE BOOK???

Hey Nikki,

First off, I’m a big fan of your diaries. And that’s the problem! I read too much! My parents support me but we’re moving back to the States for a year and my parents said I could only take ten books!!!!!!!! (I don’t have to get rid of the other 80 but they’ll be packed away in storage.) I know that there are libraries in the states but some of those books you can’t find in a library!! What should I do??

Bummed Out Bookworm

Hi Bummed Out Bookworm,

Oh WOW. You have to pick ten books to last you for a WHOLE YEAR??? That’s like a bookworm’s nightmare!!!

But before we freak out too hard, I think it is important to keep in mind the library thing. Because we DO have libraries in the states – AMAZING libraries, in fact. And just because you might not find a book on the shelf in a library doesn’t mean they can’t get it for you.

A lot of people don’t know this, but you can ask your library to buy a book for you! Not for you to keep, but at your request, libraries will often purchase books, loan them to you, and then keep them in their collection. There are usually forms on your public library’s website about how to do this, and if there aren’t, you can go in and talk to a librarian about it. Libraries genuinely want to stock books their patrons want to read, so they want to hear from you!

I do understand that having a library book you have to give back isn’t the same as having your own book that you get to keep forever. But it sounds like in your case, you’ll eventually get back to your books in storage. So it’s a temporary problem.

You can also buy books, of course. It could get expensive to buy as many as you’d like, but there are ways to own books for less money. (NOT piracy—do NOT pirate books, my friends! It’s no different than going into a bookstore and shoplifting!) I’m talking about places like thrift stores—at my local Goodwill, kids books are $1.29 each. You could also try garage sales, library sales or used bookstores.

If there are some books you just know you won’t be able to find here, even if you ask a library to special order them for you, then those are probably the ones I’d pick to bring on the trip.

I think I’d also probably try to pick a variety of different kinds of books. Like you could bring ten of the Dork Diaries books. 🙂 But it might be smart to bring your two favorite Dork Diaries, but then also make picks for different moods. Like maybe sometimes you feel in the mood for something sad, or something in a complex fantasy world, or a historical time period, or maybe there’s a non-fiction book you love.

So a) remember it’s not a deserted island and you’ll probably be able to find more than you think and b) try to pick a variety of books.

But friends, if you WERE packing for a deserted island (or a place with no libraries), what are the top three books you’d take with you?
June 19, 2018

Vote for your favorite Dork Diaries book!

SQUEEEEE!! It’s time to find out the most POPULAR Dork Diaries book with our summer Battle of the Books.

Follow Dork Diaries on Instagram and check for our daily story poll to vote for your favorite book!

Which diary do you think will be the most popular?
June 18, 2018

CRAFTASTROPHE

I have a very important piece of advice for my future self (and anyone else who might be reading this): NEVER tell your mother you’re bored!

School had been out for a little while and OBVIOUSLY I was glad not to have to do math, history, eat cafeteria food or run laps. But also the days are LONG without school! Chloe had gone to visit her grandma for a week, and Zoey had gone off to this Girls Rock music camp—which sounded AWESOME BTW but my parents said we couldn’t afford it—so I was STUCK at home.

The first few days I read books, I wrote in my diary, I watched some TV, and somehow I barely made it to lunchtime. I still had allllll afternoon and evening to fill! And I should have KNOWN that telling a parent you’re bored is just ASKING to be given an AWFUL task to fill your time.

At first it didn’t sound that awful. Mom’s friend Julie was in charge of the community center day camp, and had just texted mom in a panic because one of her counselors had a family emergency and wouldn’t be there the next day. When I said I was bored, Mom called her and just like that, I was signed up to be in charge of the craft station!

When I got there the next morning, Julie sort of shoved me toward a cluster of tables with a sign that said CRAFT STATION and then she was off to put out some fire somewhere, apparently. (Not literally, I don’t think. But maybe! It seemed possible!)

I found some bins of supplies and a couple print-outs from a mommy blog about the two craft choices for the day: birdseed ornaments and squirt gun tie dye.

Um, who thought giving squirt guns full of PAINT to kids was a good idea?!?!

But what did I know? Julie had been running this camp for years. Maybe these kids were extra mature.

And then my first batch of campers came screaming my direction.

They were like Brianna’s age and a little bigger. Maybe 6 – 9 years old? Boys and girls, and they were WILD. A couple of kids immediately grabbed squirt guns I had set out and started shooting. Thankfully they didn’t have paint in them yet!

But if Brianna has taught me anything, it’s how to yell at squirrelly little kids.

“There are two crafts!” I yelled. “Only some people get to use the squirt guns! People who are sitting quietly get to choose their craft first.”

It was like magic. They were all instantly seated.

It turned out we had enough supplies for everyone to do whatever they wanted, and it was no surprise when two little nature-loving girls picked the birdseed ornament craft, and the other ten kids all grabbed for the squirt guns and paint.

So, here’s how it was supposed to work (notice the SUPPOSED TO?!?!) – watered-down fabric paint gets poured into the squirt guns (by ME, not the campers), and white t-shirts with cardboard inside were propped up against a rock on the grass. The kids stand a few feet away and open fire, squirting at the shirt.

I thought about making threats about what would happen to anyone who pointed the squirt guns at anything but a t-shirt on a piece of cardboard, but I was afraid of planting ideas in their maniacal little brains. It wasn’t my first time at the six-year-old rodeo!

So, after I explained the steps carefully, I had the kids stick the cardboard in the shirts and get them set up. Then I filled the guns with watery paint. I picked a couple of the most responsible-looking kids to go first, and things went well. The shirts looked pretty cool. I thought I might make one for myself if there was an extra shirt left over at the end.

When it seemed like things were pretty much under control, I went to check on the birdseed girls.

BIG MISTAKE!!! RED ALERT!!! FIRST RULE OF CRAFT STATION: THE NATURE LOVING CRAFT GIRLS ARE ALWAYS FINE!!!! DO NOT TAKE YOUR EYES OFF THE KIDS WITH PAINT AND SQUIRT GUNS!!!!

I saw the horror in the birdseed girls’ eyes first. Then I felt the splat of paint square on the middle of my back. I shouldn’t have turned around. But it was instinct! So then I felt the splat of paint on my FACE!!!

I lunged for the boy in question, but his buddies were giving him cover! They were ALL aiming at me! Well, except for the ones who were aiming at some of the other kids, and the bins full of supplies. And then there was the kid with a squirt gun menacing towards the music group across the field, happily singing I Met a Bear with no idea they would soon be covered in paint.

Forget the kids with paint guns turning on each other. My priority had to be the kid heading toward the oblivious singers. I turned and sprinted toward him and I’m not going to say I tackled him, because that would be very un-counselor like, but I stopped him. With my body. And we may have both ended up on the ground.

I wrestled the squirt gun away from him and turned back to the craft tent.

UNFORSEEN TWIST!!! The quiet nature girls had somehow been drawn into the battle and now EVERYTHING and EVERYONE was covered in both paint AND birdseed!!!

Their shrieks and battle cries filled the air! Campers from other stations started leaping into the fray! And finally, thank goodness, some actual adults arrived!

I was sent home without the thank-you gift card I had been promised. That was fair, I guess.

I will NEVER complain of being bored again. But more importantly, I think my mom has learned never to volunteer me for something ever again!

Hey readers! You can try squirt gun tie-dye by mixing three tablespoons of fabric paint with one cup of water and pouring the mixture into a squirt gun or spray bottle. Then squirt the paint onto a blank white t-shirt.

Have you ever been to a camp before? What did you do there? What kind of camp would you love to try? Share your answers in the comments!
June 16, 2018

MY MOM HAS LOST HER MIND OVER CHORES!!!

Hey Brandon!

I used to help out a lot around the house but I’ve gotten worn out and instead of helping my mom, I talk to friends on my cell phone and play video games. Mom says since I’m the oldest girl, she expects more from me. I understand that. But now she’s taking EXTREME measures. She’s going to attach clothespins to my shirt with different chores written on them!! I can only take them off when I’m done with each chore. How embarrassing!!! I’m a teenager!!! I told my Mom how I feel but she still insists and I feel so mad at her for not understanding. 🙁

What can I do? Should I just wear the clothes pins? Should I tell her I won’t do it? My mom is getting weird!!

Chore Bore


Hey Chore Bore,

Okay, first of all, I have to hand it to your mom for creativity! Like, I know this is a problem for YOU, but she was super smart. She came up with a solution she knew would motivate you. And it did. 🙂

First, let’s talk about the chores. Then we’ll talk about the clothespins. (Because if you could make yourself do the chores, the clothespins wouldn’t be an issue.)

I TOTALLY get feeling too worn out to do chores. Sleep is SUPER important during the teenage years. We need sleep to be able to think, learn, grow and function properly. I looked it up, and the National Sleep Foundation says that teens need 8 – 10 hours of sleep each night to function well. But they also said that because of teenage biological rhythms (whatever that means) most teenagers can’t fall asleep before 11:00pm. But most middle and high schools start around 8:00am. Some start even earlier. If you consider the time you need to get ready and travel to school, eight hours of sleep is IMPOSSIBLE.

So, that’s a long explanation for why teenagers are tired. It’s science!

Here’s the thing, though: moms are also tired. I looked this up too, and the average mom works 98 HOURS A WEEK. A normal full-time job is 40 hours a week. So…being a mom is BONKERS. Moms are also not getting enough sleep, and the more kids they have, the less sleep they get. And a single mom is going to have even MORE pressure and less sleep!

Moms definitely deserve help from their tween and teen kids. I’m sure you agree with that, but how to help out even though you don’t feel like it? That’s the question. Because if you set the tone as the oldest kid, your younger siblings will be more likely to do their part too and everything will be easier for everyone.

I’m assuming your mom is only making YOU wear the clothespins around the house, right? She’s not sending you to school or out with friends while wearing the clothespins? (Because I mean…you could just take them off. Not that I’m telling you to do that, but…)

If you’re only being forced to wear the clothespins around the house…I mean, you’re only being embarrassed in front of your family, right? That’s not the worst thing. The easiest solution is to do the chores and get them off. And doing the chores probably takes a lot less energy than whining and making excuses and procrastinating about doing the chores. I’m guessing that after you’ve done your chores reliably for a couple days, you can negotiate your way out of the clothespins (as long as you keep doing the chores).

But if the clothespins are REALLY an issue for you, maybe you could suggest a trade. No clothespins, but you have to give up something else important to you until you’ve done your chores each day.

I have an aunt and uncle who change the Wi-Fi password every day and the kids don’t get it until they’ve done their homework. Or maybe you have to hand over your phone until your chores are done. (Ouch! I mean, with some of these suggestions, the clothespins might start sounding good.)

I know you want your mom to understand that this is embarrassing. But your mom wants you to understand that she needs help. You said she’s getting weird. But that’s probably because she’s been trying to get you to help for so long and she doesn’t know what else to do.

So this might not be exactly what you want to hear, but I think the answer is to step up and do what she’s asking. Put on some great music and the chores will be over before you know it. And then, when you chat on the phone with your friends or play video games, the room will be sparkly clean!

Are you tired all the time? How do you motivate yourself to help around the house? What are your chores? Tell us in the comments!
June 13, 2018

SHOULD I THROW AWAY MY DIARY?

Hey Nikki!

I have a diary and I already filled up all the pages. My mom said she’ll buy me a new one soon. So, what do I do with my filled-up diary? Do I throw it out? I have my memories in that thing! What should I do? How do you dispose of a diary? Please help!

Diary Dilemma

Hi Diary Dilemma,

DON’T THROW IT AWAY!!!!!

Ahem, sorry to internet-yell for a second there. But this is important. PLEASE don’t throw your diary away!!!!!It’s AWESOME that you filled it up. And it’s AWESOME that your mom is going to buy you a new one. ALL awesome! You know what’s NOT awesome? Throwing your diary away!! ☹

Because like you said, you have memories in there!! They matter to you now, and they’ll matter to you even MORE when you’re older. My mom’s always saying she wishes she kept her diaries from when she was a teenager.

I’m wondering why you might think you should throw it out. I’m going to make two good guesses and respond to them.

  1. SPACE – Maybe your room/storage space is SUPER tiny and you don’t have room for a book that you’re not still writing in. Or maybe one full diary would be okay, but you might be thinking down the line to when you have dozens of full diaries. That does start to take up some space. But really not THAT much. You can get a LOT of diaries in a storage bin under your bed! Or if you really, really don’t have the space, maybe you have a BFF or a relative who you completely trust, and you could ask them to keep a box of your stuff safe at their house. Or you could put it in a weather-proof box and bury it outside! Anything but throwing it out!!
  2. NOSY PEOPLE – Maybe you’re worried about a book full of your feelings and memories sitting around for someone to stumble over and start reading. This one’s easy—don’t leave it where someone can stumble over it! I mean, I get it. As kids, nothing is 100% private. Our parents could come creeping through our stuff at any time. But I say stick it in a box and label the box something super boring, like “long underwear” and shove that box under your bed! Or in the back of your closet!

SO, I hope I’ve made my position clear on this: DO NOT get rid of your diary. 🙂

Have you ever gotten rid of a diary? WHY? How did you do it? If not, where do you keep your old diaries? Share in the comments!
June 11, 2018

SHIPWRECKED!! – PART 2

Okay, so we were STUCK in the middle of Lake Foster, on a pedal boat that wasn’t pedaling!!! (If you missed how we got there, you can catch up here—LINK—or just trust me that it was ALL my dad’s fault!!)

My dad finally figured that the pedals were not working because something had gotten stuck in the boat’s propeller that was located in the water.

“I just need to be able to reach deeper into the water,” my dad grunted as he slid his entire upper body over the back edge of the boat. The boat suddenly tipped and wobbled and I lunged to catch Brianna as she lost her balance.

But, just as I grabbed Brianna, there was a huge SPLASH!!!

We both whirled around and couldn’t believe our eyes…

OUR DAD HAD FALLEN INTO THE LAKE!!

“OH NO!! Daddy’s in the water! We need to save him!” Brianna screamed.

Dad came spluttering over to the edge of the boat. “I’m okay, I’m okay!”

Brianna chilled out like half a degree. “Get back in the boat now, Daddy! PLEASE!”

“Listen girls, I’m going to swim to shore,” he explained. “You two are going to stay here and just relax. Once I get back to shore, the boat rental guy and I will come out in another boat to pick you up. Okay? ”

I’m not gonna lie, I was skeptical. My dad can’t REALLY swim. He basically just dog paddles. But, Brianna was already shouting, “Go, Daddy, go! You’re going to rescue us! You’re our HERO!”

So off he went! Even though it was a LONG way to swim…er, I mean, dog paddle. 

I peered toward the shore, where I could see my mom. But, her head was STILL buried in her book. The chance of her actually seeing any of us was very slim.

I held onto Brianna’s arm while she cheered. The LAST thing we needed was another Maxwell toppling into the lake!!

After a while, Brianna got tired of cheering and slumped down into her seat. I was afraid she was going to start complaining non-stop about being tired and bored. But, she suddenly squealed excitedly and jumped to her feet, wobbling the boat like crazy.

“We need to be RESCUED! So, let’s send a message in a BOTTLE!” she shouted.

The only bottle in the tiny boat was my dad’s expensive reusable water bottle. But, since he had NOT gotten very far and was already slowing down, I shrugged and muttered, “Okay. I think we’re going to need all of the help we can get.”

Brianna had a candy wrapper and a crayon in her pocket, so she wrote SOS on the candy wrapper, shoved it in the bottle, and then HURLED it into the lake.
Where it BONKED my dad on his HEAD!!

KLUNK!!

I am NOT even kidding!!!

“OWWW!” he yelped in pain and flailed around for a few seconds until he spotted his water bottle bobbing on the surface a few feet away.

“GIRLS! Do you realize this thing cost me twenty-eight bucks?” he sputtered angrily as he dove after it. “And, WHY would I want a drink of WATER?! I’m out here practically DROWNING in it!”

This whole time, my mom had STILL not looked up from her book ONCE!!! And, no matter how much we yelled and shouted, she could NOT hear us. Those noise-cancelling headphones can drown out Brianna when she’s sitting right next to her!!

I could already see my dad wasn’t going to make it anywhere near the shore. Thankfully he made it to a buoy that marked the outer edges of where people were allowed to swim in Lake Foster. He grabbed onto the buoy and held on for dear life, gasping.

“Nikki,” Brianna said somberly as she watched dad cling to that buoy. “I don’t think Daddy is going to be able to rescue us. Do you?”

I wanted to lie to her. But as clueless as she can be, when it’s important she can almost ALWAYS spot the lie.

“No,” I said. “But, don’t worry, we’ll figure something out! We’re going to be okay. And so is Dad.”

I expected her to fall apart. But I didn’t give that little pipsqueak enough credit!!!

“You know what? Dad is going to be fine…” she explained, “…because WE’RE going to RESCUE him!!!”

JUST GREAT☹! The last time Brianna had tried to help out, she’d almost given dad a concussion by klunking him on the head with a water bottle. We were lucky he was still out there clinging onto that buoy.

Brianna looked around to see what supplies we had in the boat. She was probably imagining rigging up a sail like Moana did. But, that was SO not happening. The seats were made of plastic and there was nothing in the boat but us.

“Daddy said something was stuck in the propeller thingy, right?” she asked.

I didn’t even think she was listening, she was singing so loud at the time.

“Um, yeah…” I shrugged.

“Well, WHERE’S the propeller-thingy?!” she asked.

Soon I was dangling off the back end of the boat while Brianna held onto my feet. I waved my hands around wildly, hoping to hit the propeller thingy!!!

(Which, I would like to note, I would never have done if the boat had an engine!!! Though if the boat had an ENGINE, we wouldn’t be STUCK!!!)

I was about to give up when I felt it!! And right away I felt a crunched up plastic water bottle in the propeller.

“I found it!” I yelled.

“YAY!” Brianna shouted and clapped her hands happily.

Which also meant that she let go of my FEET!

SPLASH!!

My entire body went toppling into the water!!!

“NIKKI! Are you okay?!” my dad yelled from his buoy.

“I’m good!” I sputtered as I held on to the back of the boat.

“SORRY!!” Brianna giggled and then shrugged like it wasn’t her fault.

Being in the water actually helped me pry the plastic water bottle out of the propeller thingy. Then I scrambled back into the boat.

Brianna and I gave each other a high-five because her brilliant idea worked.

THEN we worked together to pedal the boat over to the buoy to rescue dad.

With Dad back in the boat, we headed toward the shore.

As we stumbled out the boat, my mom looked up and removed her earphones.

Dad and I were both drenched from falling in the lake and Brianna was holding up the crunched plastic water bottle in super heroic triumph.

“Mommy! Guess what? We rescued Daddy!” she shouted.

My mom just smiled. “That’s nice, sweetheart. I hope you all didn’t get too BORED pedaling around the lake. My book is REALLY exciting!”
And then she went back to READING!!!!!

OMG!!!

Anyway, I was very proud of how we’d all worked together to fix the boat and get back to the shore.

But, I am NEVER getting on another pedal boat AGAIN!!!!

EVER 🙁 !!

Have you ever tried to do something that turned into a complete and utter DISASTER?!
I’d LOVE to hear all about your experiences, especially the FUNNY, WACKY ones!
Please post your comments below.
June 9, 2018

HELP! MY FRIEND HAS A CRUSH ON ME!!!

Hey Brandon,

The other day I found out my friend had a crush on me. Since I didn’t really feel the same way about her, I kind of ignored the whole crush thing. Then she asked me out and I thought we were too young to date, so I said no. She cried and called me mean names. She won’t talk to me anymore, but I still want to be her friend. And now the whole school thinks I’m a heartbreaker. Any advice on how to clear things up and get my friend back?

Yet Another Crush Catastrophe

Hey Yet Another Crush Catastrophe,

Oh man, this sounds like a tough situation! For you AND for her! And then to have everyone in school talking about it…

Okay, so I think the first thing to do is think about how she’s feeling right now. I mean, if you’ve ever told someone you like them, you know it takes a LOT of guts. You have to seriously put yourself out there. And I’m sure she thought about how complicated it would be, since you guys are friends and I’m sure she didn’t want to mess up your friendship either. So she must have felt kind of strongly to go ahead and tell you. Because bottling up feelings like that is also really hard!

So, when you admitted that you didn’t feel the same way – and I TOTALLY support your honesty, I’m just asking you to walk in her shoes for a sec – that must have hurt a LOT.  It sounds like she was kind of in denial when you first responded, so she asked you out. And when you turned her down again, that’s when reality sunk in. And it hurt all over again, but even worse, probably. 

So she vented to some friends, and now the whole school knows (or it feels like that, anyway). 

If you haven’t already, I think you should let her know your friendship matters to you, and you’re really sorry if her feelings got hurt. Write her a note if she won’t talk to you. But then I think you need to give her some space.

When you get rejected by a crush, it feels like the end of the world. It really does. And it’s really, really hard. But the truth is, time helps. Hopefully she won’t hold a grudge against you. But if she does, the pain will probably fade with time, she’ll miss being your friend, and you guys will make your way back to the way things used to be (or something similar anyway).  

And things are MOST likely to settle down eventually if you keep your cool right now. Don’t explode at her or tell her she’s being unfair or overdramatic. Just be clear that you’re her friend and you’ll be there when she’s ready and then give her that space I mentioned. 

If you keep a level head and treat her kindly, people will see you’re not a heartbreaker. And they’ll be on to talking about someone else soon anyway. I don’t think you’re that worried about what everyone else thinks, though. I think you’re mostly worried about what your friend thinks and making sure your friendship is okay. Which makes you an awesome friend!

Have you ever had a crush on a friend or had a friend crushing on you? How did you handle that? Did the friendship survive? Tell us in the comments! 
June 6, 2018

SHOULD I GIVE MY NEW BFF ANOTHER CHANCE?

Hi Nikki,

I need your help! Sometimes I feel like the whole world is against me. I used to have friends who were the snotty, unsmart sort of girls, and not to brag or anything, but very unlike me. I started leaving them and hanging out in the library. In the second semester, I decided to search for more friends. The reason girls didn’t come three inches near me was that my ex-BFF was spreading rumors about me that I have germs and that I don’t bath, which isn’t true. But over time, I got a BFF, who is still my BFF. But recently our friendship has gotten very shaky and now it seems like we’ve become rivals overnight. It’s getting worse and things are getting ugly, but she won’t budge. Should I give up or give her another chance?

Friend Or Foe

Dear Friend Or Foe,

First of all, HUGS! Friendship stuff is SO hard!! Making and KEEPING a good friend is a LOT of work. Most of us are still figuring it out. It might be an even more important life skill than math or spelling. (Don’t tell my teachers I said that, though.)

It sounds like you’ve had tons of ups and downs. It’s important to know that we all get treated unfairly, and sometimes, WE even treat people unfairly too. (Hey, nobody’s perfect!) And since you’ve been up, down and all over on an emotional roller coaster with your previous BFFs, you might be super sensitive about your new best friend. You might even find it hard to trust her. I know that if I had a former-BFF who spread nasty lies about me, I would have a really hard time trusting anyone else.

Let’s make one thing crystal clear: NOBODY should spread terrible lies about someone else. You didn’t deserve that. And that is NOT how most girls are.

However, I worry that you’re almost expecting to be disappointed by your new friend. Again, it’s really hard to say from a few sentences in an email, but I’m also concerned about how you dropped a group of friends because they were snotty, not smart, and nothing like you. I mean, if they really were a group of mean girls, then good for you for moving on!

But, is it possible you didn’t give them enough of a chance? That maybe you judged them kind of harshly? And NOT that there’s any excuse for the rumors they spread, but obviously someone’s feelings were hurt when you bailed.

So I guess I’m saying YES, you should give your current BFF another chance. Have a heart to heart. Tell her you don’t want to lose her friendship. Tell her your friendship is more important to you than any rivalry you’ve got going on, and you hope she feels the same way. Ask her how she’s feeling about your friendship. Keep communication open. Make sure she knows you care about her. If she’s been treating you badly, try to understand why. What’s going on with her? Make sure this is about your friendship, and not just about you.

Because good friends ARE a lot of work. But they are sooooo worth it. I promise! 🙂

How would you handle a rumor about you? When is a friendship worth saving, and when is it time to move on?
June 5, 2018

SHIPWRECKED!! – PART 1

Ever since my parents decided on a weekend trip to Lake Foster, my dad has NOT stopped talking about pedal boats. He was supper excited because when he was a kid, his family used to spend whole summers at Lake Foster. He and his brother loved to rent pedal boats, which are like this weird boat/bike combo where you sit in it and pedal with your feet to make it go.

It sounded like a lot of unnecessary work to me. Sorry, but if I have to be stuck on a boat, I’d rather it be one of those fancy, humongous cruise ships with a floating water park, like in the television commercials!

I finally got my dad to (sort of) shut up about the pedal boats by promising I would try it with him. So, once we arrived at the lake, Mom put on her noise-cancelling headphones and settled on a nearby bench to read her book while we went to rent a boat.

Brianna was fascinated with the boat as soon as she saw it. However, I was NOT impressed. Mostly because it was so old it looked like it was probably the same one my dad took out when he was my age.

The boat rental guy started to give my dad instructions, but Dad just waved him off and bragged that he was an old pro at pedal boats. Even though he hadn’t been in one in thirty years! Dad helped Brianna into the boat. But, when I stepped forward, he stopped me and made me hand over my cell phone.

“Lake Foster is a CELL PHONE FREE ZONE!!” he announced, just as the boat rental guy got a text message.

WHATEVER! I handed my phone to my mom and got in the boat. Besides, I figured I was going to be too busy having fun and pedaling around the lake to text anyone.

The boat rental guy shoved us out into the lake. Brianna was all excited to pedal, so I let her sit in the front with Dad. But she could only reach the pedals if she sat all the way forward on the edge of her seat. Then she got distracted with pretending she was Moana, going off to restore the heart of the goddess, Te Fiti.

I was kind of enjoying my seat in the back. If I shut out the sound of my dad huffing and puffing, and Brianna belting out How Far I’ll Go, it was kind of relaxing.

Until my dad told Brianna to switch seats with me so I could help pedal.

“This is harder than I remember,” he huffed as I helped Brianna climb into the back. “Good thing my strong, powerful daughter is here.”

And okay. I felt kinda strong and powerful for about ten minutes. Like, I was making a whole boat move across a lake, by the power of my legs alone!! (Well, also my dad’s legs. But he slowed down a LOT once I was there to pick up his slack.)

And then…NOTHING!!! I couldn’t even move the pedals! I looked over and my dad’s pedals weren’t moving either!! But that was because he was ASLEEP!!!
“DAD?!” I yelled.

I don’t know HOW he fell asleep, because Brianna was still belting Moana songs at the top of lungs right behind us.

I shoved his shoulder and he sat upright. “Oh! Wow! Look how far we’ve gone!”

“AND, NO ONE KNO-OWS!” Brianna sang. “HOW FAR I’ll GO-OOOO…”

“WE?!” I snorted to dad. But he was right—we were all the way in the middle of the lake.

“Dad, I think something is wrong with this boat! For some reason, I can’t get the pedals to move!” I complained as I stomped on them with my feet.

He frowned and tried his own pedals, but they wouldn’t move either.

“Something must have gotten stuck in the propeller-thingy,” he explained.

If the propeller was stuck…WE were stuck!!!

“Well…” My dad looked around. “There must be some oars around here?”

But there weren’t. Mainly because it WASN’T A ROW BOAT.

Brianna suddenly stopped singing. “Are we stuck?” she asked, her lip trembling.

“NO!” I said. At the exact same time that my dad said, “YES!”

Brianna was about to go into a full-blown wail. Not a Moana-belting-at-the-top-of-her-lungs wail. But the kind with hiccupping and snot and enough tears to raise the level of the lake.

“It’s just a game,” I said in a rush. “We’re not REALLY stuck. We just have to figure out how we’re going to get back to land?”

Brianna brightened. “Maybe the ocean will just dump US on shore! Just like it did with Moana!”

Now THAT would be super convenient. My dad and I exchanged a glance.

“Well, okay, Brianna! But, I think we STILL need to figure out what we’ll going to do until that happens,” I explained.

“We could paddle,” my dad suggested.

“But there are no OARS!” I muttered.

“But…we have arms,” my dad said. He knelt down on the seat and leaned way out over the edge of the boat, paddling at the water with his hands. “I think it’s working!” he called over his shoulder. “Nikki, you do the other side!”

This was ridiculous! There was NO WAY it was working. But Brianna looked so hopeful. And, I was starting to get hot from the sun blazing overhead.

So I got down and paddled on the other side. The edge of the boat was digging into my chest and I was barely splashing at the water.

But Brianna whooped and hollered, “It’s WORKING! We’re almost there!!! I think the ocean is helping us!” Then she started singing even louder.

We weren’t moving at ALL.

We were NEVER going to reach the shore!

We were going to wither away and die on a pedal boat in the middle of Lake Foster!!!!

So, if you want to know if we ever got off that dang pedal boat, tune in next week for SHIPWRECKED!! – PART 2, and I’ll tell you what happened!

Have you (or anyone you know) ever gotten stranded somewhere? I’d like to hear your exciting story. Have you ever rode on a boat and, if so, was it fun? Can you guess what happens next week in Part 2 of my adventure?

Please post your comments below.

June 2, 2018

EVERYONE WANTS TO COPY MY HOMEWORK!

What’s up, Brandon!

My classmates think I’m a brainiac, so they try to copy my homework. They also beg this other kid for answers and she always caves in and gives them, which makes me look like a jerk whenever I don’t. What should I do?

Hassled About Homework

Hey Hassled About Homework,

Okay, that sounds super annoying. I’d say I’m medium smart, but I have to admit I’m not so smart that people are usually begging to copy my answers. But I’ve seen it happen. And I wouldn’t copy someone’s answers, but I have definitely asked if I could check my answers with someone else. Just being totally honest.

I’m going to guess that you’re not only smart, but you actually do the work. Like, just because you’re smart doesn’t mean you automatically know everything. When you get an assignment, you have to put the work in. When you have a test, you have to study. At the very least, you’ve done a good job paying attention in class.

So it’s super unfair for someone to skip all the work and think it’s no big deal to just take advantage of you. Or maybe they do realize it’s a big deal, but some kids face a LOT of pressure from their parents, and even though they might not feel good about it, they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get good grades. That’s no excuse, though. And it’s a TOTAL bummer if they act like you’re uncool or mean or whatever by not handing over your hard work.

Because the thing is, what you’re describing is cheating. A lot of kids think of cheating as, like, stealing answers during a test. But they tell themselves that copying homework answers, or even plagiarizing papers from the internet, is just “working the system” or “doing what everyone else does”. But it IS cheating.

Your school probably has strict anti-cheating policies, but I’m not going to tell you to report them to your teacher, because I know that could make you look a lot worse to your peers than refusing to share your answers. But you COULD talk to a teacher or guidance counselor and ask them to create a system where students could anonymously report cheating.

If classmates are asking to copy from you during class, maybe you could ask your teacher to let you sit in the very front of the class and/or near the teacher’s desk. It would probably make people less likely to try to cheat off you during class. But I know there’s also a lot of homework copying that happens in the halls or during lunch.

In that case, or if your teacher won’t move you, I think you can be simple and firm and consistent when people ask to copy off of you. You don’t have to give reasons. You can just say, “No.” If it’s an appropriate time (like not in the middle of a test) you could offer to show them how to do it, if they need help. (And if you feel like giving help—but you don’t OWE anyone your help.) If they push for a reason why you’re not giving them answers, you could say, “I don’t want to get caught cheating, and giving answers is cheating too.”

Will some people be annoyed? Sure. But probably they’ll eventually stop coming to you. And people who are going to dislike you because you won’t help them cheat aren’t really people you want for friends anyway, right?

As for the other smart kid who always gives the answers, I can see how that makes you look bad, but I can think of a few reasons they might do that. They might just not want the hassle of upsetting people by saying no. Some people really don’t like confrontation. They might hope they’re going to fit in or make friends by sharing answers. They might genuinely think they’re being helpful. OR they might think about it in the long run and figure it’s not their problem if the cheaters never really learn the material.

Because that’s the thing—people can copy homework answers all they want. There’ll eventually be a time they can’t cheat, like a carefully monitored test, and they’re not going to know how to do it on their own. And then they’ll have to face the consequences.

I hope this helps. And maybe you’ll get some more ideas about how to handle it in the comments.

How do you handle it when someone wants to copy off of your homework? Do you consider that cheating? Tell us down below!