Picture Perfect

Caroline makes it all look so easy. She skates competitively, earns straight A's, and is popular, too.
Caroline’s parents pressure her to do well, in school and skating. She’s trying to make the Olympics.

It’s 4:45 AM when Dad turns on my light, kisses me good-morning, and says the words I used to dread before I went on my diet. “Time for your weigh-in.”

Every morning since I turned twelve and began to pack on the pounds he’s gotten me up this way. It used to really bug me, but I know it’s just he’s really worried that if I don’t stay light I won’t be able to do the jumps I need for competition. I’ve got to win junior nationals this year or else Dad says there’s no point in continuing, and he really wants me to make the next Olympics.

Today, we’re both so happy. “Ninety-nine pounds!! Sweetheart, that’s great!” He high-fives me and adds, “Now you won’t look so clunky when you do your double-axel.”

He heads downstairs to fix my breakfast, which is a whole-grain bagel with nonfat cream cheese and a container of orange juice for energy. I’ll eat it on the way to practice.

Last night I taped all my vocab notecards around my mirror so I could look at them this morning while I fix my ponytail and brush my teeth. We’ve got a really hard quiz today, all the words from this whole grading period, and it’s so hard for me to remember them. No matter how much I study, I know I’m going to mess up one of these days. I just hope it’s not today.

When I go downstairs, there’s mom in her robe. She says in her scratchy morning voice, “Do you have your homework?”

Before I can answer, Dad butts in. “Of course she does. She always does. And I’ve told you, leave her alone in the morning. She needs to focus on skating.”

Mom rolls her eyes at Dad, but she looks at me. “I just want you to do your best. There’s no reason you shouldn’t make straight A’s. Middle school is pretty easy.”