Summer/Fall 1993

Mom, Dad, and Sister came home. A few days after that, they had to stay overnight at the hospital because Sister had a fever and was dehydrated. Dad still refers to that hospital stay as her “$10,000.00 drink of water”. He thinks he is funny!

I have good memories of this summer. We stayed home, Mom wasn’t working. I loved spending so much time with baby Sister. She seemed to grow so fast. I would hold her in the rocking chair, and stare at her for hours. I would hold her up in the mirror so she could see herself. I dreamed of the day we could share a room as sisters. I think Brother was afraid of her. Or maybe just afraid of something hurting her. She was so fragile and tiny. When she would cry he would run away.

As we already knew, we were going to the church school in the Fall. I was not too worried. I loved school and I was a good student. I remember the feeling I would get when Mom would take us school shopping. It was a ticklish feeling in my tummy. Excitement. I loved getting new school supplies and clothes. I would study my Pink Pearl eraser edges and wonder how I could keep them neat, so they wouldn’t get rounded off. Summer events seemed to go along just like past summers: Playing outside and with neighbors, vacation at Grammy’s house on the Oregon Coast, and as the summer came to an end Mom took us shopping. Why didn’t we get as many school supplies this year? Mom said we didn’t need too many supplies at the new school. That was disappointing. For clothes, I had to get skirts and dresses. Mom said it was dress code. That was ok with me, but it wouldn’t have been my first choice. I liked to play on the playground during recess. Climb the monkey bars and jump rope, I didn’t want to have to worry about a skirt. Would there be a playground at our new school? What would we do at recess?

The school year started. We lived in Carnation and the school was located out of the elder’s personal home garage (the one who had been at the hospital when Sister was born) in Monroe. That was a drive of around 30-45 minutes. They had converted the garage into a fairly nice room. There was around 30 kids in the room. The 30 kids was the entire school. There was no playground outside. They had a fairly large back yard and some trees. I would love to go play in the woods during recess (they called it break time). The trees reminded me of home.

Mom would drive us to school in Dad’s big Ford truck. On the way to Monroe, we would pick up the W kids. There was 9 total, but I can’t remember if we took them all. I think some were too young to go to school. If they weren’t ready, someone had to go knock on the door. I will never get the memory out of my head of all of them standing in the kitchen, looking so tired and sad. They were all standing around a small pot of oatmeal. It was then that I started to realize that maybe their life wasn’t so great. I didn’t see their Mom or Dad helping them get ready. I would avert my eyes because I felt that it wasn’t appropriate to look and feel sorry for them.

Those of us who didn’t fit in the cab of the truck would ride in the bed. It was fun riding in the bed, for the first few weeks. We would sing or play games. After the first few weeks, the bullying began. Some of the W boys started making fun of my brother and I on the way home from school. They would make fun of the way I laughed, sang, and the size of my nose. They would pull on Brother’s ears and make fun of his name. They ripped his earlobe one time. Brother and I didn’t know what to do. Last year, when the neighbors threw rocks at us, Mom and Dad stepped in and talked with the parents. These were the W pastor’s kids, and we felt that we would get in trouble if we “told” on them. I do remember Mom getting upset that Brother’s ear got hurt. But I don’t remember my parents talking to the W pastor about the incident.

Overall, it was a rough transition. Everything was new and different, and I didn’t know where I belonged. I knew the kids from Sunday school, but this seemed different, more serious. The desks were attached in rows of three. They were called “offices”. Sidenote: I am just noticing this now, how subliminally we were being prepared for work life. Calling recess “break time” and desks “offices”. Anyway, we had dividers so we couldn’t see each other. We had five workbooks called PACES: Math, English, Science, Social Studies, and Word Building. You set goals for how many pages in each book you would do each day, and work to achieve those goals. You would work at your own pace, and score your own work. The teachers were available if you had a question. You would raise your flag (put it on top of the back of your desk) and they would come to you, or call you up to the teacher’s station. I liked being able to work at my own pace. I felt like I could get a lot more work done. And I did. I also liked Mom being a teacher at the school. It made me feel special. I did have to call her Mrs., which was a little strange. It didn’t take long before I was getting in trouble. I talked to one of the W kids about schoolwork. I thought since we were the same age, that we were doing the same type of work. I got in trouble for “showing off” because I was in higher PACEs than him. I felt bad. I didn’t mean to be showing off. Maybe they were right that I felt I was better than them. Because my Mom helped me get dressed in the morning, made me breakfast, and lunch, and drove us all to school. Because I had a lot of books, and I loved to learn and share that common interest with my friends. They were helping me open my eyes to how mean I really was.

The next thing I was getting in trouble for was for thinking I was better than my Mom. This is a lesson I was in from about the age of 10, to the age of 14. Every once in a while it would still pop up after 14. The elder was the acting principal at the time. I most likely did have an attitude with my Mom, I was spoiled. I did not understand what they were talking about when they said I felt like I was better than her. They would tell me that I wanted to be the Mom, that I felt like I could take better care of my sister than she did. I did love to hold my sister and play with her. I had no idea how to take care of her. I would get called into the principal’s office every day so he could yell at me. I don’t remember what was said, just the yelling. I had never been called to the office at my old school. I must have always been a really bad child and no one had ever told me. If I told the principal that the W kids were being mean to me, it probably meant that I thought I was better than them too. I didn’t want to find out. I would just try my best and see if I could make things better. I thought that if I did good, kept my grades up, and didn’t cause any problems, that I would stop getting in trouble. If I kept smiling, then everything would be okay. After driving the long drive home with the W bullies, Mom would wait for Dad to get home from work so she could tell him that I got called into the principal’s office. I remember a lot of dark nights were I would cry myself to sleep. I only ever wanted my Dad’s approval. I remember the look of disappointment and confusion that he would get when Mom would tell him about the day. I did not like that at all. I would think “tomorrow will be a better day, I won’t do anything wrong”. I would fall asleep exhausted yet hopeful.

~E

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