Thursday, July 18, 2019

September 12, 1988 Back to School


On September 12, 1988, I came out the front door of our apartment C22 (far right) with Michael, 10, Misty, 7, Megan, 5, and RL (Rocky) 3 years-old. We were on our way to catch the school bus.





If not for RL and Megan pulling me along and Misty skipping around us singing, "We're going to school. RL and Momma too," I don't think I would have made it to the bus stop.




The bus came, the kids from the apartments lined up and I picked up RL to show everyone, this little boy can't ride the bus by himself. 

RL and I sat in the seat behind the driver. Misty and Megan, sat across the aisle a few seats back and Michael, sat behind them. The bus started its slow climb up the hill and I looked out the window and thought how little things had changed in the 12 years since I'd dropped out of high school. I felt like a little girl with my toes curled under wishing I could disappear. The only difference was, my 4 kids were on the bus with me. Disappearing was no longer an option.

It wasn't their responsibility, but they saved me.
Smart Start of Brunswick County for information on parent and family resources for families of Brunswick County NC

Printable pdf of resources available to families with children

Saturday, July 13, 2019

A Reason Is Different than an Excuse

Site of Kenan Family Literacy Project
“What do you mean you’re not coming back?” I couldn't believe it when Mildred asked me that. 

Hadn't I just told her? 

Why can’t she see?  I don’t have a choice.



***


On the first day of school Mildred told us that attendance was important. She said that a reason to be absent was different that an excuse. "A reason is something you don't have control over. Excuses you do."

On the first day of school, I had a list of reasons I'd have to quit.
     When they see I'm not smart enough to get a GED.
     Before they figure out there's something wrong with me.
     When our trailer gets set up again.
     Before I push their daddy too far.

So many mornings I got on the bus with my kids thinking that day would be my last. I wanted to go back to what I knew. I'd reached my limit. Not only that, I was asking for trouble. Their daddy had made it clear. I had to quit. 

I dealt in emergencies. Mostly trying to avoid them. I was good at it and I knew I was pushing my luck. I felt it in my bones. I was running out of time.

How it irritated me when Mildred didn't seem to understand. I wanted her to agree with me. I needed her to agree with me.

﹏﹏

"May your choices reflect your hopes not your fears." - Nelson Mandela

﹏﹏

So while I was focused on more important things, like when to quit, RL was busy learning, making plans, and following through. 

It would be awhile before I did the same.

***


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