Written by Thomas J. Colson & Colleen Adams Illustrated by Katie Orcutt
A Girl Named Pants, Inc. All rights reserved. This book, and any of its parts, may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the author, Thomas J. Colson, or the publisher, A Girl Named Pants, Inc. ÂŠ 2008 Thomas J. Colson Written by Thomas J. Colson and Colleen Adams Illustrations by Katie Orcutt Layout by Dawn Brundege Edited by Olivia Colson, Emma Colson, Gabrielle Colson, Karen Kelly, Mary Theresa Colson, Amy Kipp, and Robert States Created in the U.S.A. Printed in Hong Kong ISBN: 0-9755959-6-2
I created a Girl Named Pants to change the lives of my children and children all over the world. Pants is an inspiring little girl. She's the kind of girl that parents will want to introduce to their children, and children will want to read about before they go to sleep at night. Pants is confident, courageous, and compassionate. Most of all, Pants is a girl who believes in herself...she believes she can do anything! It's my sincere hope that Pants will inspire other children to believe in themselves as well.
“Pants! Gino’s here!” Pants’ mom shouted. “I’m coming! I’ll be right down!” Pants finished the last of her ponytails in her long hair and raced downstairs to meet her friend, Gino. Pants and Gino were going to visit her best friend, Olivia. “Hey, Pants,” Gino said. “I can’t wait to see Olivia! How’s she doing?” “I think she’s doing pretty well, but I haven’t seen her since Thursday.” Olivia was not only beautiful, but kind. She always seemed to say the right thing at the right time to make people feel great. But Olivia was recently diagnosed with cancer, and she had been in her house for weeks while she received Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy was a treatment that would hopefully cure her. Unfortunately, the treatments made Olivia feel very sick and tired. It made Olivia feel so sick and tired that she hadn’t been able to go to school since the treatments began.
All the kids at school really missed Olivia. So did the teachers. They were all very worried. So, Pants visited Olivia almost every day to make her feel better. She would then report back to Olivia’s teachers and her many other friends in their class. “I know Olivia likes UNO, so I brought my cards with me,” said Gino with a smile. “I thought we could play.” “Great idea, Gino. Let’s get going.” Pants and Gino walked toward the front door. As she was leaving, Pants called to her mom. “Mom! Gino and I are going to Olivia’s now!” “Okay, Pants. Please be careful walking to Olivia’s house,” said Pants’ mom. Pants smiled. “Thanks, Mom. We will.” Gino and Pants walked out the door and down the street. They were both excited to see Olivia, but Gino was also a bit nervous. He hadn’t seen Olivia since the treatments began, and he didn’t really know quite what to expect, or what to say to her. So, Gino was really glad that Pants was going to be there with him. “I haven’t seen Olivia in a long time,” Gino said. “Do you think she’ll mind that I’m coming to her house?” “No. She won’t mind at all. In fact, I think she’ll be happy to see you. She hasn’t really had anyone over to her house other than me since she left school.” ~2~
“Is she really sick or just sort of sick?” Gino asked. “Well,” Pants said, “she has been pretty sick lately. She’s not totally herself. You know how she’s usually happy and always motivating us?” “Yeah, that’s one of the things I like so much about Olivia,” said Gino. Pants smiled. “I know. Me too. But, because of the cancer treatments, she’s sometimes sad. They make her feel so sick and she’s losing all of her hair. So, we’re going to cheer her up!” Gino was a little surprised about Olivia’s hair. “Losing her hair?” “Yes. She’s been losing her hair for a few days now. I told her it doesn’t matter, but she feels really embarrassed about it. So, don’t stare.” “Pants, I wouldn’t stare.” “Okay, okay. I just wanted to be sure.” Olivia lived only a few houses from Pants, so Gino and Pants made it to Olivia’s house in just a few minutes. When they arrived, Pants knocked at the door. Olivia’s mom answered the door with a big smile. “Hi, Pants. Hi, Gino. Olivia is upstairs in her room. She’ll be so happy to see you guys. Go right up.” ~3~
“Thanks, Mrs. G,” they both said at the same time then raced up the stairs. “Oliviaaaa,” Pants sang as they reached top of the stairs. "Gino and I are here.” Olivia heard them coming so she jumped out of bed and ran down the hallway to meet them. “Hi, guys,” she said. “I’m so glad you came. Let’s go to my room.” Gino was nervous. He didn’t want to stare at Olivia’s head, but he also didn’t want to obviously not look at her head. So, he started talking, really fast. “How are you feeling? I’ve been so worried about you. I feel so bad. Everyone misses you so much.” “I’m okay. I feel sick to my stomach a lot, and I’m always tired, but other than that I’m fine. Besides, other people around the world have it much worse than me. Some kids have the same thing I have, but their parents don’t have enough money for the treatments. I’m actually very lucky.” While Olivia was talking, Gino stole a glance at her hair. She was wearing a big fuzzy hat so it was hard to tell how much hair she had lost. Pants knew that Olivia didn’t like talking about her sickness, so she interrupted. “Guess what, Olivia? Gino brought UNO. Want to play?”
“Yes! I love UNO! Let’s play!” said Olivia with a big smile as she adjusted her hat. Olivia grabbed the box and began setting up the game. As she was doing this, Gino and Pants told her all about everything happening in school, including the upcoming annual Fifth Grade Olympics. Both Gino and Pants were hoping to be selected to represent their class. They had both been working very hard and performed well in the tryouts. “You two will definitely make the team,” Olivia said in a reassuring way. “I mean, you’re the smartest students and the best athletes in the class.” “You mean we’re the smartest students and best athletes who are in the class this week,” said Pants. The only reason we have such a good chance is because you’re not there.” Olivia smiled and joked, “When you’re right, you’re right, Pants.” Gino and Pants both burst out laughing. During their second game of UNO, Olivia’s mom yelled to them from downstairs. “Pizza’s here! Does anyone want some?” “Definitely! I’m starving!” shouted Gino. “Gino, you’re always starving,” joked Olivia. ~5~
“Well, I’m a growing boy. I need my strength to beat you two at UNO,” responded Gino with a big smile. “You can eat all the pizza you want and you’re still not going to beat me,” said Olivia as she jumped up and raced through her bedroom door ahead of Gino and Pants. At the kitchen table, Gino grabbed the first piece and said, “Pizza is my absolute favorite food, Mrs. G! Thanks!” Olivia’s mom smiled. “My pleasure, Gino.” “Yes, me too, Mrs. G. I love pizza. Thanks!” said Pants as she waited for Olivia to get her piece, then reached for one of her own. “You’re welcome, Pants,” said Olivia’s mom. Olivia’s mom loved Pants like her own daughter. She had known Pants since Pants was a little girl, and Pants had always been such a great friend to Olivia; now more than ever. “By the way, Pants, how many ponies did you put in your hair today?” Pants’ long ponytails covered her whole head. She adjusted one of them. “I did eight today.” “It looks great! Your hair is getting really long. Are you ever going to get a hair cut?” ~7~
Pants shook her head with a smile, and her ponies flopped around and around. “No way, Mrs. G. You know how long it took for me to grow my hair this long. I love it!” “Well, Pants, it’s beautiful. Just like you,” said Olivia’s mom. Pants blushed a little. “Thanks, Mrs. G.” “Yes, it’s absolutely beau-ti-ful,” said Gino with a big, sarcastic smile. Pants smiled back at Gino and threw a dish towel at him. “By the way you guys, thanks for coming over. It means a lot to me,” said Olivia. “Always,” said Pants as she stuck her hand out for their special handshake. “Always,” said Olivia with a smile as she did the same. Olivia and Pants had been using the word always as a sign of their friendship for a long time. It meant that they would always be there for each other and they would always be friends, no matter what. Gino watched as they did their handshake, which included hand slaps and fists and snaps and spins. “You two are such girls,” he said. ~8~
“And?” they both responded at once. “What’s your point?” asked Pants. Gino just shook his head and reached for the last piece of Pizza. “Gino!” Pants said. “Did you ever think that Olivia might want the last piece?” Gino stopped with the piece of pizza halfway in his mouth. “Well, do you?” he mumbled. “You’re such a boy, Gino,” said Olivia with a smile. Gino took that as a “no” and ate the whole piece in a few bites. Olivia’s mom came back into the kitchen a few minutes later and said, “Okay kids, Olivia needs to rest now, so you’ll have to go home.” “Awwww, mom. Right now? Can’t we wait a few more minutes?” asked Olivia with her best puppy dog look. “I’m sorry, Olivia. You know the routine. When it’s time, it’s time. And it’s time, right now.” “Okay, okay. Can Pants come over tomorrow so I can help her prepare for the Olympics?” “Of course,” said Olivia’s mom. “Would you like to come over on Sunday, Pants?” she asked. “I’d love to, Mrs. G. I’ll be here after lunch.” ~9~
Olivia walked Pants and Gino to the door. “Seeya, Gino,” she said. “I hope I see you in school soon, Olivia,” said Gino. “Me too, Gino,” said Olivia with a smile. Pants gave Olivia a big hug and said, “Always.” Olivia gave Pants an even bigger hug back. “Always.” After she shut the door, Olivia watched as Pants and Gino walked down the driveway together. When they were out of sight, Olivia began to softly cry. Her mom came over and put her arm around her shoulder. “You miss school and all of your friends, don’t you,” she said. Olivia wiped her eyes. “I guess. Mostly, though, I’m just glad I have Pants as my best friend.” “Me too,” said Olivia’s mom as she watched Pants and Gino walk away.
Pants woke up early the next morning for breakfast with her family. Sunday was pancake day. Pants’ mom usually went all out on Sunday with pancakes, whip cream, fruit, orange juice, and fresh baked bread. The works! Pants looked forward to it every Saturday night and woke up early for it every Sunday morning. Pants tip-toed into her mom and dad’s room to see if they were awake. “Mom? Dad? Are you up?” Pants whispered. “We are now,” said Pants’ dad with a morning smile. “What’s up, Pants?” “Can I invite Olivia to come over for breakfast? She loves coming over for pancakes!” Pants’ dad turned to her mom. “Rose? You’re the star of this show. What do you think?” Pants turned to her mom with anticipation in her eyes. “Mom?” “Of course, Pants. There’s always room for one more in this house. Tell her to come down in a half hour.” ~11~
“Thanks!” Pants shouted as she ran to the phone. Olivia picked up on the second ring. She saw Pants’ name pop up on the caller ID. And Olivia knew right away why Pants was calling. She loved going over to Pants’ house for Sunday morning breakfast! “Hi, Pants!” answered Olivia. “Hi, Olivia. Ready for the greatest breakfast of your life?” “Is that an invitation?” “You know it is. Can you come over?” “You know I can! When should I come?” “Well, I would say, now, but you know my mom.” “She’s got to have it ready first. I know. No prob. I need to get dressed first anyway,” said Olivia. “Perfect! Seeya in thirty.” Pants went downstairs and into the kitchen where her mom was already getting breakfast ready. Pants helped set the table and cut up some strawberries. The pancake smell began to fill the house as her mom started cooking. The smell encouraged Matilda and Sneakers to get out of bed and come downstairs. They strolled in, still stretching and rubbing their eyes. ~12~
At almost the same time, they both sat down and laid their heads on the kitchen table while Pants and their mom rushed around the kitchen getting ready. After a little while, the doorbell rang and Matilda jumped up. “Who’s here?” she asked, suddenly seeming very much awake. “Olivia,” Pants responded as she skipped to the door. “MMMMM” Olivia said as she came inside. “It smells so good in here! Mrs. C, you make the greatest pancakes on the planet!” Pants’ mom smiled at Olivia. “Olivia, how come I always feel so great when you’re around?” “She’s just got that magic touch, mom,” said Pants. “If you have a magic touch, can you make Sneakers disappear, Olivia?” asked Matilda. Sneakers jumped up and began chasing Matilda around the table. “Matilda, why would I want to make such a cute little guy like Sneakers disappear?” asked Olivia as she winked at Sneakers.
Sneakers stopped chasing and Matilda stopped running. “Oh, I get it,” said Matilda. “Today is opposite day. Then I agree, Sneakers is cute.” “Okay, Matilda, let’s be nice to your brother,” said Pants’ mom. “Thanks for having me over!” Olivia said. “You are welcome here anytime, Olivia,” said Pants’ mom. “How have you been feeling lately?” “Sometimes good, sometimes bad,” Olivia said still smiling. "But, I made a decision that I'm not going to let cancer ruin one minute of my life. No matter how I feel, I'm going to keep smiling. “Well, you are one strong girl, Miss Olivia! You have been through quite a lot and have been very brave.” “Well, it’s a lot easier to be brave when I have Pants with me.” “Always, Olivia,” said Pants as she reached out for their handshake. “Always, Pants,” said Olivia, and the shake began. “I would love to miss school,” said Matilda. “But, I wouldn’t want to have to miss playing outside with my friends for all that time.” “Or being sick, and having treatments,” added Pants’ mom. “We’re all very proud of you, Olivia.” ~15~
“Thanks, Mrs. C.” After they finished eating, Pants walked Olivia home. They wanted to hang out together for the morning, but Pants’ mom needed to go shopping and run errands, and Pants knew that would be too much running around for Olivia. Olivia would get way too tired and worn out. “Thanks for having me over for breakfast and walking me home,” Olivia said as they walked up Olivia’s driveway. “It was fun. I don’t want to run errands all day, though. I’d rather just hang out here with you.” “Me too,” said Olivia. “But your mom needs your help. Who will watch Matilda and Sneakers while she’s shopping if you don’t go? Without you there, who knows what they’ll get themselves into!” “Good point. If I’m not there, they’ll tear the whole mall down. My mom and dad would go broke just paying for all the stuff they would break. I’ll come over later so you can help me get ready for the Olympics.” “Okay. Seeya. Have fun shopping,” said Olivia as they did their handshake.
“Mom! Dad!” Pants shouted as she burst through the door with Matilda trailing close behind. They were just getting home from school on Monday afternoon. “Mom! Dad! You won’t believe what happened at school today!” Pants shouted excitedly. Pants had been waiting the whole bus ride home to tell her mom and dad the news, and she couldn’t hold it in any longer. Pants’ dad was at work, but her mom was home. “Yeah, Mom, you won’t believe it! It’s so cool!” Matilda added. Matilda loved being a part of anything that involved Pants. Pants’ mom smiled and said, “Yes, Pants? What happened? Is everything okay?” “Everything’s great. Actually, everything is more than great. It’s wonderful! Spectacular! Awesome! I was chosen to represent Mrs. Springer’s class in the Fifth Grade Olympics! I couldn’t believe it when they called my name! Olivia was right! They picked me for the girl and Gino for the boy!”
Pants’ mom gave her a big hug. “That’s great, Pants! I’m so proud of you! I knew you could do it! What can you do?” “Anything!” shouted Pants. “I’m proud of you, too!” Matilda shouted. “What can you do, Matilda?” asked Pants. “Anything!” shouted Matilda as loud as she could. Pants smiled. She loved how Matilda looked up to her. It made her feel like a role model. “And that’s not all, Mom. Gino and I won both events today! That means we’re in the lead!” “That’s wonderful, Pants!” Pants’ mom was almost as excited as Pants. “You’ve got to call your dad. He’ll be so happy!” Pants raced to the phone. She told her dad everything she just told her mom. “That’s fantastic, Pants!” shouted her dad through the phone. “I knew you could do it! You’ve got to give me all the details when I get home!” “I will dad! Thanks.” “And Pants,” said her dad, “what can you do?” ~18~
“You know what I can do, Dad. Same as you. I can do anything!” Pants hung up and immediately ran to her mom. “Mom, I can’t wait to tell Olivia about everything. Can I go to her house now? Pleeeeeasssse?” “Sure, Pants. Of course. She’s probably anxious to hear what happened today,” said Pants’ mom. “Just be sure to be back home soon. You have a big week ahead of you.” “Okay, I will,” Pants promised as she sprinted out the door and down the street. Pants loved popping over to Olivia’s house after school to bring her schoolwork and to catch her up on whatever happened during the day at school. Usually it wasn’t very interesting. But today, Pants couldn’t wait to tell Olivia about the Olympics. “BBBRING…BBBRING,” went the doorbell after Pants pressed it twice. She could barely contain her excitement as she stood waiting at the door. Pants could see Olivia’s mom coming to the door, and as Olivia’s mom opened the door, Pants practically burst out of her skin. “Hi, Pants!” said Olivia’s mom. Olivia is upstairs reading. She just woke up, but I know she’s anxious to see you. Go right up.” “Thanks! I’m so excited to see her, too!” Pants dashed up the stairs two steps at a time and into Olivia’s room. ~20~
When Pants saw Olivia, she was surprised. Olivia’s face looked really pale and tired. She noticed that Olivia had lost a lot more of her hair. Pants hated seeing her best friend looking so sick. But, Olivia was smiling so Pants leapt up onto Olivia’s bed and gave her a big hug. “You won’t believe what happened today!” Pants blurted out before Olivia could even say a word. “Gino is Mrs. Springer’s boy representative in the Olympics!” Olivia smiled happily and said, “That’s great for Gino, but Pants, what about the girl?” Pants grinned. “You already know which girl was picked.” Olivia jumped to her feet on the bed and said with a big smile, “Yes, I do!” Pants and Olivia jumped up and down on Olivia’s bed while they did their hand shake. When they sat back down on the bed, Olivia asked, “Okay, so who was picked for the other two classes?” “Emma and Hunter from Mr. Miller’s class, and Gabrielle and Shawn from Mrs. Harris’ class,” said Pants. “This is so exciting, Pants! When do the actual Olympics begin?” Olivia asked, secretly hoping that they wouldn’t start until she was back at school. ~21~
“It already started!” Pants squealed as she began bouncing again. “I took first in the 90 second multiplication competition, and Gino came in first in the mile run! We’re in the lead!” Olivia was disappointed, but tried to smile anyway. “Yeah, that’s great, Pants,” she said. Pants noticed that Olivia was suddenly sad. “What’s wrong, Olivia?” “Nothing, I’m fine,” said Olivia in a very unconvincing way. She began to get small tears in her eyes. Then Olivia sighed. “I’m really happy for you Pants, but it’s just not fair that I have to miss the Olympics! I’m sick of being home and missing everything. My best friend came in first, and our class is in the lead and I’m stuck here in my room. I just wish I could go back to school.” Pants tried to comfort Olivia. “I know you’re upset. But it’s not too late. The Olympics are going to be going on almost all week. And you have a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday. Maybe they’ll let you come back before the end of the week.” “Maybe,” said Olivia with some hope in her voice. “Thanks, Pants.” “Always, Olivia,” said Pants. Olivia smiled. “Always, Pants.” ~22~
One of the many things Pants loved about Olivia was that she sometimes fell down, but she always got right back up. And even in this really hard time, Olivia was still smiling. Just then Pants looked at the clock. She jumped up from the bed. "Oh no! I've got to get home. I promised my mom. Seeya, Olivia. I promise I'll come straight over tomorrow after school." “You’d better. And good luck in the Olympics tomorrow!” Olivia shouted as Pants ran out the door. Olivia was really tired from her treatment. She fell asleep almost as soon as her head hit the pillow. As she drifted off she hoped she would be able to go to school to see some of the Olympics.
After picking out a perfect outfit for the day, including a brand new pair of blue jeans with silver stars, Pants looked in her mirror as she braided her long reddishbrown hair. Pants always liked doing her hair in the morning. She had the longest hair in school and that was one of many things that always made her feel unique. As Pants walked into the kitchen she saw that Matilda, Sneakers, and her Mom were already eating breakfast; cereal and bananas, one of her favorites! “Pants, are you ready for the Olympics? What will today’s events be?” asked Pants’ mom. Before Pants could say a word, Matilda proudly answered for her. “Today, Pants is in the Spelling Bee and Obstacle Course Relay.” Pants laughed. “She’s right, Mom.” “Are you nervous?” her mom asked.
“I’m not worried about the obstacle course because Gino and I have been practicing in gym. But, I’m a little nervous about the Spelling Bee. Mom, would you quiz me while I eat?” Pants asked as she handed a list of words to her mom. “Sure. Let’s start with the word sus…” “RINNNGGG!!!” The ringing phone interrupted the first word. “I’ll get it!” Matilda yelled as she jumped up from the table and ran to pick up the phone. “Hello? Hi, Olivia. Here she is.” Matilda handed the phone to Pants and whispered, “It’s Olivia.” Pants smiled and grabbed the phone. “Hi, Olivia. I’m so nervous for the Spelling Bee. Do you think I’ll do well?” she blurted into the phone. “You’re so silly, Pants,” said Olivia. “You’re a great speller. Just take deep breaths, try to stay calm, and take your time. And remember, you can do anything!” “Thanks, Olivia! I’ll do that. But I would be a lot less nervous if you were there with me.” “I’ll be thinking positive thoughts about you all day. You’ll do great!” Pants heard her mom shout, “Pants! The bus is here!” “Sorry, Olivia. The bus is here. I have to go.” ~26~
“Good luck!” Olivia yelled. “Even though we both know you won’t need it!” “Thanks!” said Pants as she hung up the phone, then grabbed her backpack and raced out the door. Pants and Matilda climbed onto the bus and found an empty seat. They had been sitting together almost every day since Olivia stopped going to school. Matilda loved it! She thought it was so cool to sit with her big sister. “Can I help you study?” Matilda asked energetically. “Sure,” said Pants. “Thanks. Actually, that would be great.” Pants and Matilda practiced spelling all the way to school. By the time the bus rolled into the school parking lot, Pants was feeling much more confident. She was ready to compete. Matilda looked up at Pants as if Pants were a movie star. “You’re so lucky,” she said as the bus came to a slow stop at their school. “If you work hard and study a lot, when you get to fifth grade you can be in the Olympics too, Matilda,” Pants said with a smile. After the bus unloaded, Pants waved goodbye to Matilda, and Matilda shouted, “Good Luck!” then lost sight of Pants in the crowd of students. ~27~
Pants walked down the hall and into Mrs. Springer’s classroom. As soon as she walked in, everyone began crowding around her. Gino joined them as they all talked excitedly about the Olympics. Mrs. Springer quieted the class and explained that they would have the Spelling Bee in the morning and then the Obstacle Course Relay in the afternoon, so they needed to get organized for the day, right away! Pants listened as her teacher spoke, but before long she started to become a little nervous again. Her mind drifted off thinking about the Spelling Bee. Suddenly Pants’ thoughts about the Spelling Bee were interrupted by a loud beep and an announcement through the loudspeaker. Pants heard Principal Patterson’s voice. “Good morning students! I hope everyone is ready for the second day of our annual Fifth Grade Olympics.” The whole school began to cheer. Pants’ class was loud, but she was near the door so she could hear kids in other classrooms shouting and screaming as well. ~28~
When everyone quieted down, the Principal continued. “If you’re competing in the Spelling Bee this morning, please come to the auditorium at this time.” Pants and Gino exchanged nervous looks as they stood up and headed toward the door. “Good luck!” shouted Mrs. Springer and every kid in the class as Pants and Gino walked through the door and into the hallway. As Pants and Gino made their way down the hall, they saw Gabrielle and Shawn coming out of Mrs. Harris’ class. When Gabrielle walked by them she gave Pants and Gino a sneaky smile and said, “Good luck. You two will need it more than we do. Looosers!” Pants turned to Gino and asked, “Why does Gabrielle have to be so mean?” “Don’t worry,” Gino told Pants. “Just ignore her. Focus on the Spelling Bee.” Before long, the auditorium was completely full and everyone was talking, shouting, and laughing. The Spelling Bee began and Pants made it past the first ten rounds. Unfortunately, Gino was out after round three.
Eventually, it came down to just Gabrielle and Pants. On Pants’ turn, she confidently walked to the front of the stage and patiently waited for the next word. Pants listened as the moderator said the word, “suspicious.” Oh no! Pants thought. That’s a tough one. I always spell that word wrong!’ She tried to remember how she spelled it that morning on the bus with Matilda. Pants took her time and tried to stay calm like Olivia suggested. Biting her lip Pants took a deep breath and said, “S…U…S…PICOUS?” The auditorium was silent. Everyone waited. The few seconds seemed like a few minutes. Pants held her breath the whole time. Then she heard the moderator say, “I’m sorry, Pants. That is incorrect.” Pants dropped her head in disappointment and turned to walk back to her seat. As she passed Gabrielle she heard a small giggle. Then Gabrielle whispered, “Thanks, Pants! Nice try!” With a big smile Gabrielle came to the front of the stage. The announcer again said, “Please spell, suspicious.” Gabrielle confidently said, “SUS…PI…CIOUS.”
The auditorium was silent again. Then the moderator shouted, “Gabrielle, that is correct! You are our Spelling Bee winner!” Gabrielle smiled from ear-to-ear. She glanced at Pants with a nasty grin. Mrs. Harris’ class came to their feet and cheered loudly for Gabrielle. Mrs. Springer’s class was disappointed by the loss to Mrs. Harris’ class in the Spelling Bee; especially to Gabrielle. But, the day flew by and before they knew it, it was time for the afternoon competition. Mrs. Springer and the class reassured Pants and Gino that the Spelling Bee loss was okay, and that they could still win the entire Olympics competition. So, Pants and Gino headed to the gym for the Obstacle Course Relay. The Obstacle Course Relay was all set up as the whole school piled into the gym. The relay consisted of pushups, climbing through tunnels, jumping over bars, running twice around the gym, and crossing the finish line where the first runner would tag the second runner. Each contestant had been practicing in gym so they were all familiar with the course. Pants and Gino were ready to go. Gino wanted to go first so Pants agreed to go second. As the race began, Gino jumped into an early lead which he kept the whole way. Pants had a head start when Gino finished his leg in the lead, but he was only a few feet ahead of the others so she had to run really fast to win. ~32~
The crowd cheered as Pants blasted around the gym. Matilda and her classmates were screaming as loudly as they could. As Pants turned the corner on her last lap around the gym she saw Emma and Gabrielle close behind her. All of a sudden Emma slipped and fell hard to the ground. Without thinking, Pants stopped and turned around to help Emma up. Pants was still helping Emma to her feet as Gabrielle flew by and crossed the finish line. Pants was shocked at what had just happened. She couldn’t believe that Gabrielle would just run by, leaving Emma on the ground. How could someone be so selfish and mean? she thought. Emma came up to Pants after the race and said, “Thanks, Pants. I’m sorry you lost because of me.” “Emma, no worries. I’m glad you weren’t hurt. I was worried Gabrielle might run right over you!” Emma and Pants burst out laughing. “I still plan to win the Olympics,” said Pants with a smile. “Me too, Pants,” said Emma. “But, if my class doesn’t win, I hope yours does.” Even though Pants and Gino were disappointed, they decided to try to shake Gabrielle’s hand to congratulate her on the day’s events. When Gabrielle saw them walking toward her with their hands out, she turned her back and said, “I don’t want to shake your hands. I don’t shake the hands of losers!” ~33~
Pants and Gino were stunned by Gabrielle’s bad attitude. They quietly walked back to their classroom and packed up their bags to go home. They were clearly disappointed with the two losses for the day. Mrs. Springer tried to cheer them up. “Hey, don’t get down over a couple losses. Don’t forget that you won both events yesterday. Your opponents didn’t give up after two losses. I hope you don’t give up either.” “I’m not giving up,” said Pants. “I’m just disappointed because I feel like we should have won the relay. Gino did great, and we had the lead. I lost it for us.” Mrs. Springer smiled and put her hand on Pants’ ponytails. “Pants, I don’t like to lose either, but you did the right thing. Let’s just put today’s events behind us and come back strong tomorrow to get back on top.” Then Mrs. Springer handed Pants a folder. “Here’s Olivia’s homework for the day. When you see her, please tell her we’re all thinking about her.” “I will,” Pants said as she walked out of the room. On the ride home Pants was quiet. She still felt like the losses for the day were her fault. Matilda could tell Pants was upset and said, “You did the right thing by helping Emma. I’m proud that you stopped to help her.” “Thanks, Matilda,” Pants said. “We’ll get back on top tomorrow. We’re still going to win this thing.” ~34~
Pants sat on Olivia’s bed with her and told her all about the loss in both the Spelling Bee and the Obstacle Course Relay. She also told Olivia about Gabrielle’s rude comments and mean actions toward Gino and her. “I don’t like competing against someone so mean,” Pants told Olivia. “Gabrielle really makes me feel bad!” “Don’t worry about Gabrielle, Pants. She’s been mean since kindergarten. Just ignore her,” Olivia suggested. “How did Gino do? I know he’s fast, but he’s not the best speller in the world,” said Olivia with a smile. “Well, Gino only made it to the third round in the Spelling Bee. You’re right about him not being the best speller in the world. He is a fast runner, though. He finished his leg of the relay in first place.” “What are the competitions tomorrow?” Olivia asked.
“Both competitions will be in the afternoon. First, we’re doing the Geography Challenge, then swimming,” Pants responded. “Oh,” said Olivia. “I’m sorry I have to miss the swimming. That’s my favorite!” Pants knew how much Olivia loved swimming. Olivia and Pants had been on the swim team together since they were seven-years-old. Olivia hadn’t been able to go to swim practice for a long time because of her treatments. Pants knew Olivia was upset about not being able to swim. “Pants,” Olivia said, “you have to win in the pool.” Pants smiled. “You know I’m going to win in the pool.” Olivia smiled back. “I’m positive you’re going to win in the pool.” Then they both jumped up and did their handshake. While they were standing on Olivia’s bed, Pants noticed that Olivia was wearing a new hat. “Hey, Olivia, that’s a great hat. Is it new?” Olivia’s eyes started to water. That made Pants’ eyes start to water, too. “What? What did I say?” asked Pants.
Olivia choked back her tears and said, “I have to wear it, Pants. My hair has really fallen out. More and more every day. Now, I’m totally bald. I’m so embarrassed.” Olivia looked down then slowly took her hat off. Pants immediately saw that Olivia was right. Her hair was gone; completely gone! Pants tried her best not to look shocked. “Olivia, I know you feel embarrassed, but you shouldn’t. It’s not your fault that you’ve lost your hair. And even without hair you’re still more beautiful than most girls I know.” Olivia looked back up at Pants. Her eyes were red and teary. “Thanks, Pants.” “Always, Olivia.” “Always, Pants.” Suddenly Pants and Olivia heard Olivia’s mom shout from downstairs. “Pants, your mom just called! She wants you to come home!” Before Pants left, Olivia asked, “Pants, will you go with me to my doctor’s appointment tomorrow? I’m going to ask if I can come back to school. I’m really nervous.” “Of course I’ll go,” Pants replied. “I’ll come straight over after school.” ~38~
That night in bed, Pants had a hard time falling asleep. She kept tossing and turning thinking about Olivia’s hair. Olivia was so embarrassed about her hair, she thought. Even if the doctor let’s her go to school this week, she’ll still be bald. Maybe she’ll be too embarrassed and decide to stay home anyway. Pants wondered how she would feel if she lost all of her long hair and had to go to school bald. That was her last thought as she drifted off to sleep.
Pants did not have enough time to practice for the Geography Challenge the night before. Luckily, both competitions were to be held in the afternoon. That gave Pants some time to review the geography material. All day long, though, Pants was having a hard time focusing on the events of the day. She kept thinking about Olivia and her hair. Gino noticed that Pants was distracted. He thought it was because of the loss from the day before. “Don’t worry, Pants,” he said. “We’re going to get back on top today!” Pants put a smile on her face and said, “I know we will. Today’s our day.” She slapped him five up high. The first event was Geography. Pants was completely distracted thinking about Olivia, and both she and Gino were having a hard time finding stuff on the map as quickly as everyone else. When the buzzer rang to end the Geography Challenge, Gino and Pants looked up and saw Gabrielle with a big smile on her face. Gabrielle won!
As soon as that event was over, Pants and Gino went to the pool. While they were getting dressed, all the students in the school squeezed into the bleachers and around the pool. Pants’ class was trying to stay optimistic, but losing the first event put them squarely in second place behind Mrs. Harris’ class; Gabrielle and Shawn’s team. “C’mon, Pants,” said Gino as Pants walked over to the starting block to start the race. “We need you to win this race. If you beat Gabrielle, we’re right back in it, tied for first!” Pants and Gabrielle were both great swimmers. They had been competing against one another in the pool for a few years and it was always close. As they stood on the starting block waiting for the race to start, Pants glanced at Gabrielle on one side of her and Emma on the other side. Gabrielle gave Pants a confident smile. “Ready to lose another one, Pants?” she said. Not today, Pants thought as she looked down the lane in front of her. At that moment, Pants blocked out all of her thoughts except the race. The race was 50 Freestyle; two lengths, down and back. The natatorium was silent as everyone waited for the gun to go off.
“Swimmers, take your mark,” said the starter. Pants went into her starting position. So did Gabrielle and Emma. Then the gun went off. “Bang!” Pants heard the crowd erupt with cheers for a moment as she flew through the air toward the water. Pants hit the water and began swimming. Since it was only two lengths, she didn’t have to pace herself. Pants swam hard for the first length. So did Gabrielle and Emma. As they neared the wall, Gabrielle was ahead by a foot or so. But, Pants had a faster turn and blasted off the wall for the second length. Pants and Gabrielle were even! Pants could see Gabrielle beside her each time she took a breath and it motivated her to swim even harder. Pants’ legs and arms were burning, but she kept going. After swimming half the length, Gabrielle and Pants were still side-by-side. Then Pants took a deep breath, put her head down, and didn’t take another breath for the rest of the length. That made all the difference. She flew past Gabrielle and won the race! When she popped her head up at the end of the pool she could hear the crowd screaming and shouting and whistling. She looked over at her classmates and they were all smiling. Gino had his hands cupped around his mouth as he screamed Pants’ name as loud as he could.
Pants reached out her hand to Gabrielle, but Gabrielle ignored her and climbed out of the pool. Pants didn’t mind. She turned and shook Emma’s hand in the other lane. “Good job, Pants!” said Emma with a smile. “You too, Emma,” said Pants. They both climbed out of the pool. Pants was still breathing hard, and was very excited. Her classmates and Mrs. Springer crowded around, high-fiving and congratulating her. “We’re back in it!” shouted Gino. As Pants was getting dressed she pulled her bathing cap off and her long, beautiful hair fell down her back. It made her think of Olivia and the doctor’s appointment. I have to get ready to go, she thought. Olivia’s appointment is this afternoon! On the bus ride home, Matilda found Pants and sat next to her. “That race was awesome! I was screaming as loud as I could! Did you hear me? It was so cool how you beat Gabrielle and won the race! You and Gino are going to win the Olympics! I just know it!” Matilda said excitedly. “Yeah, it was pretty awesome, Matilda,” said Pants. But then Matilda noticed that Pants wasn’t smiling. “Then why aren’t you smiling, Pants?” she asked. ~44~
“I’m just thinking about Olivia. I’m going with her to the doctor’s office, and I’m a little nervous about what they’ll say.” “What do you mean?” Matilda asked. Matilda knew Olivia was sick, but didn’t know about her hair. “Well,” Pants said with a sigh. “Olivia has lost her hair because of the medicine she’s been taking. I’m worried because she’s embarrassed about coming back to school with a bald head. I just don’t know what to do to make her feel comfortable and pretty.” “Well, you can do anything, right?” asked Matilda. “That’s right, Matilda. I can do anything,” said Pants. “But that doesn’t mean I have magical powers. I don’t know how to grow hair. And even if I could figure it out, it would take me years and years. I won’t be able to figure it out before the Olympics are over this week.” “Well,” began Matilida, “what about a nice hat or a bandana? We could decorate them for her! I know that would make me feel pretty.” “Those are great ideas, Matilda, but she already has those things. I need to think of something else.” For the rest of the ride home Pants was silent. She just stared out the window, thinking. Pants had always been a great problem solver, but she didn’t have a lot of time. She needed to think fast. ~45~
When the bus stopped at their house, Pants hopped off and went straight to Olivia’s house. When Pants arrived, Olivia was already waiting for her downstairs and was getting very fidgety. “I’m so glad you’re here, Pants! The doctor’s office always makes me so nervous.” Pants was excited to tell Olivia all about the Olympics and her race against Gabrielle. But, Pants knew that this day wasn’t about her, it was about Olivia. Olivia was really nervous and needed support. So instead of talking about the Olympics, Pants simply smiled and said, “Always, Olivia.” Olivia immediately calmed down and smiled. “Always, Pants.” Olivia’s mom came out while Pants and Olivia were doing their handshake. “Let’s go, girls.” The ride to the doctor’s office was very quiet. Pants didn’t really know what to say. Even Olivia was silent, which was odd because Olivia always seemed to have something to talk about. When they arrived at the doctor’s office, Pants could tell that Olivia was worried. She tried to think of something to say to take Olivia’s mind off the appointment while they sat in the waiting room. She still didn’t want to talk about the Olympics, though, just in case the doctor wouldn’t let Olivia come to school in time to see any of the events. ~46~
Olivia broke the silence first. “How should I ask?” Pants knew exactly what Olivia was talking about. “Just say, ‘Doctor, do you think I’m healthy enough to go back to school?’ The worst he can do is say ‘no.’ And if he says, ‘no,’ so what. It’s not the end of the world. Right?” Olivia didn’t smile, but she didn’t frown either. She just thought about what Olivia had said, then nodded. “You’re right. It could be way worse.” “That’s right. At least our planet isn’t being invaded by aliens that look like giant spiders and only eat one thing; human brains,” Pants said with a smile. Olivia smiled. “And, at least a bunch of scientists didn’t have a major screw up with an experiment that made all the air we breathe smell like skunks.” Both girls giggled until they were interrupted by the nurse. “Olivia, are you ready?” Olivia made a funny face to Pants then disappeared into another room. Pants stayed in the waiting room for less than a half hour. But, since Pants didn’t bring anything to read or do, she had nothing to do but worry about Olivia, so it seemed like a few hours. Finally, Olivia and her mom came back into the waiting room. Pants jumped up and asked, “Well? What happened? What did the doctor say?” ~47~
Olivia didn’t seem particularly happy or particularly sad. “Well I have good news and bad news. What do you want to hear first?” Pants braced herself and said, “Bad news?” Olivia took a deep breath and said, “Well, I’m not going to be able to come to school tomorrow which means I will miss the last day of the Olympics. But the good news is I can come back on Friday!” Pants was relieved. “That means Olivia must be getting better, right Mrs. G? I mean, the doctor wouldn’t let her go back to school if she weren’t getting better, right?” asked Pants as she looked up at Olivia’s mom. Olivia looked up at her mom, too. “Well, it’s certainly a step in the right direction,” responded Olivia’s mom. Pants and Olivia looked at each other and immediately did their handshake. “Well,” said Pants, “I guess we’d better get home and pick out your outfit for Friday.” As soon as they got home, Olivia and Pants ran straight up to Olivia’s room and found a cute outfit for Olivia to wear to school on her first day back. Olivia picked out a cute pair of jeans that Pants and her mom had designed for her, a plain white top, and an adorable pink and white sparkling bandana for her head. ~48~
Pants dragged Olivia over to the full length mirror in Olivia’s room, and held the clothes up to Olivia’s body. The moment she looked in the mirror, Pants realized the mistake she had made. Pants was getting comfortable seeing Olivia without hair. But, since Olivia had been staying away from mirrors, she really hadn’t seen herself that way very often, and she certainly wasn’t comfortable with it. Pants tried to ignore what was so obvious to both of them. “What do you think,” asked Pants cautiously. Olivia sighed, trying really hard to fight back tears. “It’s fine, I guess.” Pants put her arm around Olivia. “It’ll be okay, Olivia, really. With your bandana, the other kids might not even notice. And even if they do notice, so what. They’re your friends. You have a million friends at school who will be totally okay with this.” “I know, I know,” said Olivia as she still fought back tears. It was time for Pants to go home so Olivia walked Pants to the door. Before Pants left she turned to Olivia and said, “Always, Olivia.” Olivia smiled a little bit. “Always, Pants.” Pants walked home slowly. She stopped thinking ~49~
about Olivia’s hair for a moment and focused on the Olympic events for the next day. Emma’s class hasn’t won at all, Gabrielle’s class has won three times, and my class has won three times, she thought. If Gino and I win both competitions tomorrow, we’ll win the entire Olympics! Tomorrow is the Science Challenge and the Rockwall Relay. I think we have a good chance of winning, she thought.
In the morning, Pants’ mom surprised her with a new pair of pants. She made them with little test tubes, rulers, goggles, and flasks for the Science Competition. “Mom, these are awesome! Thanks!” said Pants as she put them on. “No problem, Pants. You know I love making clothes.” “Mom,” Pants asked, “how long have you been making clothes for?” “I started in high school, Pants. I used to make clothes and my sister used to make wigs. I once thought about designing my own clothing line. But, then I went to medical school, so now I just do it for fun.” Pants thought about that for a moment, and had an idea. “Does your sister still make wigs?” she asked. “Yes, Pants. She makes wigs out of real hair for a charity organization in town.” Just then the phone rang. “Rrring, Rrring!” ~51~
Pants saw that it was Olivia. She quickly picked it up. “Hi, Olivia.” “Hi, Pants,” Olivia said quietly. “Only one more day,” sang Pants. Olivia paused, then said, “I don’t think I’m going to go to school tomorrow.” “What? Why? Did the doctor call back? Is something wrong?” “No, it’s just that I woke up today and looked in the mirror again. I’m completely bald. I look terrible. I’m sorry. I know you were looking forward to me going back to school, but there’s just no way I can go to school like this,” Olivia explained. Pants could tell that Olivia was trying to hold back her tears. “Olivia, it will be okay. We’ll figure something out tonight. Just don’t decide anything yet. I’ll be over after school, okay?” “Okay,” said Olivia. Pants hung up the phone feeling awful. “It’s just not fair, Mom. Why does this have to happen to Olivia? I wish I could do something.” “I know, Pants. Olivia is a wonderful little girl and she does not deserve to go through this. But all you can do is be her friend. And you’ve been doing that for years.” ~52~
“Okay. Well, thanks, Mom.” As Pants walked to the bus she thought about what her mom had said. Sure, being a friend to Olivia is important, but there must be something else I can do, she thought. On the bus to school Pants and Matilda tried to brainstorm some ideas on how they could make Olivia feel comfortable enough to go to school. “There must be something we can do to make Olivia feel pretty again,” Pants said. She kept thinking about her aunt who makes wigs for charity. Just then, Pants came up with a great idea. “I’ve got it!” she exclaimed. But before Pants had time to explain her idea to Matilda, the bus stopped at school and began to unload. Within a couple minutes, Pants and Matilda were separated in the crowd of students. The day flew by quickly. Pants was very excited about her idea for Olivia and she couldn’t wait until the end of the school day. As the morning turned into afternoon, the whole school was buzzing about the final day of the Olympics. Pants and Gino were bubbling over with excitement about the day’s events. “Pants, if we win one event today, we’ll finish the day tied for first. If we win both events today, we’ll be the Olympic champions!” said Gino as they walked to the auditorium. ~53~
The first event was the Science Challenge. Pants was great in science. Gino was pretty good, too. Unfortunately, Gabrielle was also very good in science. All the students were crowded into the auditorium. They were as loud as usual until the Principal stepped up to the microphone. She put up her hands and everyone quieted down immediately. Then she explained the first event. “Each group of two will work together to build a working motor with an attached fan blade. Each team will be given batteries, a motor, a switch, red and black wires, a fan blade, and other things they will need. The contestants do not have to use ALL of the parts. They will decide which parts to use, then construct their motors. Whoever can get their motor working and launch their fan blade into the air first will be the winner. Are the contestants ready?” After all the teams gave the thumbs up sign, the Principal blew her whistle. Pants and Gino worked fast. Pants loved projects like this. She had done a lot of wiring projects before, but had never actually created a motor with a fan. Gino hadn’t either. But, they quickly figured it out. Just as they were connecting their final wires, they heard Gabrielle and Shawn shout, “We’re done! We’re done!” For a moment, the other two teams froze. The Principal shouted, “You’re not done until I see the fan blade fly into the air.” ~54~
Then Pants’ team and Emma’s team looked over at Gabrielle’s motor. They all held their breath as Gabrielle flicked the switch. Nothing happened! “AAHHH!” screamed Gabrielle. “Yes!” shouted Gino as he and Pants went back to work. Gabrielle quickly realized that her red and black wires were reversed, so she worked furiously to disconnect and reconnect them. Pants and Gino worked even faster. Then, without even announcing it to the Principal, Pants flicked the switch! As soon as she did, the fan started turning, faster and faster! Then, ZOOM! The fan blade shot up into the air! The whole crowd in the auditorium looked up at the rising fan and cheered loudly! Matilda was clapping and screaming so loudly that the boy next to her had to plug his ears. The fan went so high that it hit the ceiling and hung up there, spinning and spinning. Finally, it slowed down and dropped to the ground. Pants and Gino high-fived each other as the Principal made the announcement.
“And the winner of the Science Challenge is Mrs. Springer’s class!” The auditorium erupted with cheers again! Mrs. Springer’s whole class rushed over to Pants and Gino to congratulate them. “One more!” shouted Gino to Pants as he and Pants were surrounded by their cheering classmates. “If we win the Rockwall, we’ll be the Olympic champions!” The rockwall was set up in the auditorium so that the students would not have to move to another room. Everyone went back to their seats and waited for the final event of the Olympic competition. The Principal came to the microphone again, and everyone quieted down immediately. “We may be down to the last event of our Olympics.” Everyone wondered what the Principal meant when she said, ‘may be.’ “So far,” the Principal continued, “Mrs. Springer’s class is in the lead by one event.” Mrs. Springer’s class began cheering again. And again the Principal held up her hands. Everyone quieted down. “If Mrs. Springer’s class wins the final event, they will be the overall winners. If Mr. Miller’s class wins the final event, Mrs. Springer’s class will still be the overall winners. But, if Mrs. Harris’ class wins the final event, there will be a tie. If there is a tie, the winner will be settled tomorrow with a tie-breaker event. For now, though, it’s on to the Rockwall Relay!” ~57~
The whole crowd erupted in cheers again as the competitors walked over to the rockwall. Pants, Emma, and Gabrielle were the first climbers. The boys would be the second leg of the relay for each team. Each climber had to climb to the top of the rockwall, over the top, and down the other side. When the whistle blew, all three girls leapt onto the rockwall! They had all practiced climbing many times before. They raced to the top and flew right over. The crowd cheered wildly. Matilda and her first grade friends screamed Pants’ name over and over. Pants got off to an early lead and held it the whole way with Emma and Gabrielle close behind. When she hit the ground Gino jumped onto the wall but slipped and fell to the ground. By the time Gino jumped back onto the wall, Shawn had already passed him. Gino climbed with all his strength and began to catch up to Shawn, but it was too little too late. Shawn won the race! Gino finished his climb and approached Pants with a discouraged look in his eyes. “I’m so sorry, Pants.” Pants smiled and stuck her hand up for a high-five. Gino slapped her hand with barely a touch. “Gino, it’s okay. You tried really hard. We can still win the Olympics. We just have to win the tie-breaker tomorrow.” Once everyone was back in their rooms, the Principal spoke through the loudspeaker to the students. ~58~
“For the first time ever, we have ended our regular events with a tie. The final matchup will be between Mrs. Springer’s class and Mrs. Harris’ class!” Both classes began to cheer wildly. “There will only be one contest and it will be selected randomly out of a hat. The choices will be the events that were suggested by each of the three teams before the Olympics began. Each team was permitted to submit one tie-breaker event. So, we will put all three in a hat and select the event in the morning. Only one student will compete for each class. The three possible events are the Jump Rope Challenge, the Basketball Shooting Challenge, and the Hair-braiding Challenge.” Pants and Gino decided that if basketball was selected, Gino would compete; if hair-braiding was selected, Pants would compete; and if jumping rope was selected, they would flip a coin to decide who would compete. When Pants sat down on the bus with Matilida, she was bursting with excitement. She couldn’t wait to tell Matilda her idea for Olivia. “My hair!” she said to Matilda. Matilda didn’t understand. “Your hair? What do you mean?” she asked. Pants whispered, “My hair. I can have a wig made ~59~
for Olivia with my hair. Aunt Nina is a wig maker. If I cut my hair, Aunt Nina can turn it into a wig for Olivia. Then she won’t be bald anymore!” “But, Pants,” Matilda said, “you love your hair. And what about the Olympics? What if they pick hairbraiding for the tie breaker? You’re the fastest hairbraider in the world. You can beat Gabrielle easily. But how will you do it if you cut your hair?” Pants wasn’t thinking about that at the moment. She was really excited about her idea and couldn’t wait to tell her mom and dad. “It’ll be fine. You’ll see. Don’t worry.” When the bus stopped at Pants’ house, Pants rushed inside to see her mom and dad. Both were home! “Mom! Dad! I figured it out! I know just how to make Olivia feel better! I want to cut off my hair to make a wig for her!” Pants’ mom and dad were surprised and proud all at once. “Wow! What a great idea!” said her dad. “Are you sure you want to do it? I mean, you’ve been growing your hair for a long time. It’s beautiful.” “Yes, yes. I’m sure! Can you call Aunt Nina and see if she can do it by tomorrow?” “But Pants,” said Matilda, “what about the tie-breaker tomorrow? How will you do it with short hair?” ~60~
Pants quickly explained to her mom and dad about the Olympics and the tie-breaker. Then she said, “They probably won’t even pick hair-braiding.” “Well,” said her mom, “what if they do?” You’ve been talking about the Olympics for weeks. You’ve worked so hard. Don’t you want to win?” “Yes, of course I want to win. But, what’s more important, the Fifth Grade Olympics or my best friend?” Pants’ mom and dad were choked up immediately. Pants’ mom hugged Pants and said, “I’m so proud of you.” She had tears in her eyes. She laughed and said, “Let’s call your Aunt Nina.” Pants’ mom made the call, and within twenty minutes Aunt Nina was at Pants’ house working away on Pants’ hair. Pants looked at the floor as her Aunt was cutting and saw her long, beautiful hair falling all around her. Everyone in the family was watching. Pants’ mom almost cried a few times as Aunt Nina cut. Pants’ dad gave her the thumbs up with a big smile more than a few times. Pants was nervous. She was so caught up with her great idea that she never really thought about how she would feel without hair.
When the cutting was over, her Aunt held up the mirror and Pants looked at herself. Even though she knew her hair was being cut, she did not expect to see what she saw. It was shocking. So shocking that she began to cry. Her mom and dad hugged her. “It’s okay, Pants,” said her dad. “It’ll grow back before you know it.” “I know, I know,” said Pants as she sniffled. “It’s just that I look so different.” “You’re still our beautiful little girl, Pants,” said her dad. Pants smiled. “Thanks, Dad.” Then the whole family surrounded Pants with a big group hug. “I’m proud of you,” said Matilda as she hugged Pants as tight as she could. “Me too,” said Sneakers. Pants’ Aunt Nina went right to work on the wig. She gestured for everyone to move away and said, “Give me room. This is going to take a while. Usually it takes a long time to make a wig. So I’ll work all night if I have to.”
Pants looked at herself in the mirror for a while. When the shock wore off, she decided to call Olivia. She didn’t want to tell her about the surprise, but she wanted her to know that she wouldn’t be coming over. “Hi, Olivia!” said Pants. “I have great news!” “Did you win the Olympics today?” she asked excitedly. “No, even better! It was a tie, so we have the final tiebreaker tomorrow! That means you’ll be able to see the big finish!” Olivia was silent for a moment. “Well, I guess that means I’ll definitely be going to school tomorrow,” she said with as much enthusiasm as she could muster. “I’m so glad! And I have a surprise that will make going to school a lot easier for you.” “Well?” asked Olivia. “Well, I can’t tell you. It would ruin the surprise! But, I’ll come over in the morning before school.” “Okay. Can you come over now for a little while?” Olivia asked hopefully. “I’m sorry, Olivia, if I do, it’ll ruin the surprise. But, I’ll be over first thing in the morning.” “Okay, that sounds good,” said Olivia. “See you tomorrow!” ~63~
“Always, Olivia.” “Always, Pants.” Pants stayed up almost all night with her mom and her Aunt. While they worked on the wig, Pants worked on braiding her new short hair, just in case. When they finished the wig it was beautiful! It looked just like Pants’ hair. Pants’ Aunt even did the ponytails just like Pants. Pants was really happy when she went to bed that night.
Pants called Olivia as soon as she woke up in the morning. “Hey, Olivia, are you ready for school?” asked Pants. “I’m ready, but I have to go to the doctor’s office first.” “Well, can I see you before you go? I want to show you the surprise. You’re going to love it!” “I’d love to, Pants, but my mom and I are leaving right now. So, I guess I’ll just see you in school. Can you give me the surprise then?” No, Pants thought. That would not work. “Actually, maybe my mom can drop it off to you on her way to work. She can meet you and your mom at your doctor’s office.” “Okay,” said Olivia. “That would be great!”
“Great, then. I’ll ask my mom and she’ll meet you there. I’m really excited for your first day back, Olivia.” “I’m really excited to see you win the Olympics for our class!” “Seeya, Olivia. Always.” “Always, Pants.” Pants’ mom happily agreed to drop off the surprise for Olivia. “Mom, please be sure she gets it, okay. Please, please,” said Pants as she was getting on the bus. “Pants, don’t worry. I will definitely get the wig to Olivia. I promise.” “Thanks, Mom. I love you.” “Me too, Pants. Bye.” Pants sat with Matilda on the bus but didn’t say a word. “Aren’t you excited, Pants? Today is the tiebreaker and Olivia will be there! It’s so awesome!” Matilda said. “I am,” said Pants. “I just hope mom gets the wig to Olivia.” ~66~
When Pants arrived at school everyone was shocked that she had cut her hair. On the way to her classroom, Gabrielle noticed Pants’ haircut and laughed out loud. “That was pretty stupid, Pants! If they pick hair-braiding, I’ll definitely win!” When Pants walked into her classroom, her friends were stunned. At first, no one recognized her. Then Gino said, “Pants, is that you?” Pants blushed. She immediately realized the magnitude of what she had done. She saw it in all the faces of her friends as they realized it was her. It made her really nervous and a little light-headed. “Yes, Gino. It’s me.” “What did you do to your hair, Pants?” he asked. As Pants tried to answer him, all the other kids crowded around in shock. Mrs. Springer came to the rescue. “Well,” said Mrs. Springer, “it looks like someone got a very pretty haircut. You look beautiful, Pants.” “Thank you, Mrs. Springer,” said Pants. “Why?” Gino asked. “Why did you get your haircut? What if they pick hair-braiding for the tie-breaker?” Pants was actually speechless. She didn’t know what to say, so she said nothing. ~67~
“Okay, kids,” said Mrs. Springer. Let’s get to our seats.” The other kids sat down, but they were visibly upset. “Gino,” Pants whispered, “I can still braid just as fast as before. Gino was confused. “How, Pants? How could you possibly braid your hair just as fast now? Don’t you want to win?” “It will be fine. We can still win! And they probably won’t even pick braiding,” she said hopefully. “I just hope you’re right, Pants. I just don’t understand why you would do that. Couldn’t you wait until tomorrow to get your hair cut?” Pants had never seen Gino so mad at her. It made her feel awful. She really hoped they would pick one of the other events. “Okay, kids,” said Mrs. Springer as she stood at the front of the room. “I have an important announcement to make.” The class quieted. “As you all know, Olivia has been out of school for a few weeks because of an illness. I have good news to report. Olivia will be coming back to school today!” That news cheered up the whole class. They all smiled and clapped. ~69~
When they quieted down, Mrs. Springer continued. “One thing you should all know is that Olivia has been extremely brave throughout this very difficult time. The treatments are painful. They make her sick to the point of throwing up, and they make her feel very tired most of the time. And, these treatments have caused her to lose her hair.” Pants looked around the room and she could see that everyone was upset by this. Olivia was a friend to most of the kids in the class. The kids hadn’t realized that Olivia’s illness was causing her such pain. “So,” Mrs. Springer added, “when you see her today, please make her feel welcome. She’s embarrassed about her hair, and almost didn’t come to school today because of it. I hope you’ll all let her know how happy you are to see her when she arrives.”
When the tie-breaker event was about to begin, Gabrielle, Shawn, Pants, and Gino stood on stage with Principal Patterson. The auditorium filled up quickly. Kids were bursting with excitement. This was the best Olympics of all time, the first tie-breaker ever, and they were all there to see it! Principal Patterson asked one of the other teachers to hold up the hat as she selected the tie-breaker event. It was so quiet as she reached into the hat that you could have heard a pin drop. She pulled out a piece of paper and slowly opened it. Then Principal Patterson looked at the crowd. Pants held her breath. Gino shifted back and forth on his feet. Gabrielle and Shawn stood still, smiling. The principal announced, â€œThe tie-breaker event will be the Hair-braiding Contest!â€?
Pants’ heart sunk. Oh no, she thought. Gino and the rest of the class are going to be so mad. She looked at Gino. He looked so disappointed that Pants thought he might cry. Pants took her place on stage. She scanned the crowd looking for Olivia, but she didn’t see her. Gino and Shawn walked off the stage and into the stands. Pants, Gabrielle, and the Principal were the only ones left on stage, in front of the whole school. Pants took a deep breath. She could still braid. She didn’t have the long hair, but she could still braid. She had been braiding her hair for years. I can do this, she thought. “Good luck, Pants,” Gabrielle said sarcastically. “I’ll bet you’re real glad you got a haircut for the big event!” Pants took another deep breath. “Stay focused,” she mumbled to herself. Within a few moments the Principal said, “Take your mark.” Then she blew the whistle and both girls began braiding as fast as they could. They had only two minutes to get the most braids in their hair.
Pants was ahead early, but she feared that she was losing too much time tying off her hair. With longer hair, Gabrielle could get way more braids done because she didn’t need to use a pony so often. As the time ran down, Pants’ fingers were hurting. She kept braiding as fast as her fingers would move, though. Before she knew it, the buzzer sounded. The contest was over. Both girls stopped braiding and leaned their heads forward for the Principal to count their braids. The crowd couldn’t tell who won. Both girls seemed to be braiding really fast. Pants seemed to be going faster, but she had to keep stopping to add ponies. Because she was moving so fast, though, her class began to believe that she might have actually won! After counting all the braids, the Principal walked to the microphone and held up the notes she had taken from the count. “Congratulations, Mrs. Harris’ class!” she said. “You are this year’s Olympic champions! Great job to all the contestants!” Pants’ classmates sighed in disappointment. The crowd cheered mildly for Gabrielle and Shawn. Pants felt terrible for letting Gino and the rest of the class down. Slowly the cheering began to die down and it was replaced by a lot of whispering and pointing. Pants looked up to see what was happening. The entire crowd turned in their seats to see who had come into the auditorium from the side doors. Whoever it was looked a lot like Pants. She had reddish-brown hair and ponytails covered her whole head, just like Pants! ~73~
As the girl walked closer to the stage, the kids in the fifth grade class recognized her. It was Olivia! It took a moment, but soon the whole grade realized what Pants had done. She cut her hair for Olivia. Pants cut her long, beautiful hair and sacrificed the Olympics for her friend. They were overwhelmed and immediately began cheering and crying all at once. As Olivia walked up onto the stage toward her best friend, the cheers turned into chants. “Pants! Pants! Pants!” Before long the rest of the grades realized what had happened and they began chanting as well. “Pants! Pants! Pants!” The noise was deafening. The only person in the entire auditorium who wasn’t clapping or chanting or smiling or crying was Gabrielle. She just stood in stunned silence. She couldn’t believe what was happening. She won the Olympics, but all the kids were chanting for Pants. Pants stood and walked toward Olivia. As the crowd chanted her name over and over, Pants felt completely overwhelmed. She was excited and relieved and embarrassed and frightened all at once. And as Pants and Olivia met in the middle of the stage, in front of every student and teacher in the school, Pants began to cry.
So did Olivia. They both had tears streaming down their cheeks and over their big smiles. Olivia gave Pants a big hug and spoke so close to her ear that Pants could hear her over the loud cheering and chanting. “Always, Pants,” she said. Pants hugged Olivia even harder and said, “Always, Olivia.”
This is the series of books about a Girl Named Pants...so far! More are coming soon! A Girl Named Pants Pants Makes the Swim Team Pants and the Bully Pants Feeds the Poor Pants Builds a Business A Girl Named Pants and Her Mall Adventure A Girl Named Pants and Her Amazing Victory! To order more books about A Girl Named Pants; or to download free coloring pages; or to buy Pants teeshirts, sweatshirts, backpacks, tote bags, or posters, please go to our website: