Momence sixth grader, Tatum Coash, has a unique perspective on how she shows up in life. She has made a choice not to be embarrassed or worried. She says this with such confidence that you can’t help but feel it really is that easy. Her advice is simple, yet far from easy—to ‘always be positive.’
By Barry Engelhardt
She explains the logic, saying she ‘just doesn’t want to’ be stressed or worried. She shares this revelation with a lighthearted smile, the type of smile that causes me to accept her decision without question. And this is how I realize I could learn plenty from this tiny, eleven-year-old girl.
Tatum moved from North Carolina to Momence when she was in second grade. I quickly realized that the difficulties of starting over at such a young age was a pivotal time that Tatum used to learn and grow. She prioritized picking her friends wisely and shared that aspects of the transition worked out for the better, despite the obvious anxiety of moving to a new area.
With such a carefree existence, I assume she’s likely meticulous. Still, I learn she’s a bit of a procrastinator, waiting until the ‘morning of’ to review and plan her day. She completes her homework or prepares for a test during these early morning hours. Her planning leads to excitement on the day of our chat as she shares that it’s her best friend’s birthday.
At home, Tatum enjoys spending time with her younger brothers, Knox and Brigs, both toddlers. She also has two dogs and two cats. She laughs with a mischievous smile and admits her cats love bringing her ‘dead presents.’ She also shares that they have two rabbits, which are her favorites. Her family also has chickens and will raise ducks each summer.
Tatum says that social studies and science are her favorite classes. But she quickly corrects herself by adding, “Actually, I like all my classes. I love my teachers because they’re awesome. I’ve just always liked my teachers.”
Tatum also plays volleyball and just finished her first season playing for Momence. She shares that she’s excited to play again next year and considers being with the team her favorite aspect of the game. She adds ‘I’m just like the person who works really well with other people.” It likely doesn’t hurt that some of her best friends also play.
Tatum looks up to her parents, taking inspiration from both. Her mother and father’s impact peaks through when she shares her vision for the future. Tatum shares that she’d like to go into the military—likely the Air Force or Navy—and use the experience to help pay for college. She proudly adds that her father served in the Marines.
She also enjoys the mountains and wants to settle down in the Mountain West or the Pacific Northwest, with the states of Colorado, Washington, and Oregon as top contenders. While her family often vacations in Minnesota, Tatum says her mom lived in Colorado for seven years.
As we conclude our conversation, I can’t help but feel a bit more upbeat, realizing that Tatum’s positivity has somehow rubbed off—a small but mighty girl who freely displays compassion and a full heart. I, for one, am reminded of a great many of life’s lessons through my brief interaction with Tatum.