Thank you, Ms. Medina

Our county held a book festival today. It was the first I’ve been to, and I truly hope it isn’t the last. The roster of presenters included Newberry Award winning authors and other amazing writers and illustrators who talked about the process of publishing, generating ideas, and about the power of voice.
Aside from encouraging reading, the event was meant to spark a desire to write.

We didn’t get to stay long, but I totally appreciated watching my kids select their two books from the fair.  They took the task serious.

And Ri found herself smitten with a number of beautifully illustrated books.

We met author Meg Medina and she paused for a few minutes to hug the princess, take a picture, and personalize a copy of her book. 

Simply awesome.  She definitely didn’t have to, considering she’d just met with 50 plus people anxiously awaiting her attention and she was minutes away from a second presentation when we finally got to her.  But she made the kids feel special — like there was nothing more important than greeting them.  Such a beautiful spirit!  

Wade in the water

Ri came home talking about Elijah. I think he’s a classmate. But seeing that her school has abandoned the moderate ABeka and fully committed to ACE (Accelerated Christian Education), it’s quite probable that she’s referencing a biblical figure.

She’s in the car seranading me with Wade In the Water – or, rather, with what she remembers of the chorus.  You see, Ri thinks it’s about a pool or a puddle. It’s been raining, so it’s only natural that someone is wading water, right?  

I turn off the stereo and start to sing along. Wade in the water. Wade in the water, children. Wade in the water. God’s gonna trouble the water. I *think* that’s how it goes. Ri chimes in. She actually lets our duet happen instead of chastising and commanding  (“No mom. Not you.”)

We repeat the chorus, but the second time I finish “Wade in the water. God’s gonna trouble the water.” she looks at me through the rearview mirror concerned. 

“God’s in trouble?” She inquires. 

Clearly it is unfathomable that He could have been naughty.  I can’t think for a minute on the best way to clarify, but assure her that no, God is not in trouble. 

At this point I’m wondering if trouble is even in the lyrics. It’s a slave hymn, afterall, meant as a lesson on escaping detection while heading to freedom. I vow to look up the words.

“God’s not in trouble, he’s splashing water while swimming.” 

She accepts this and resumes singing. Swim in the water. Swimming in the water. Swim in the water. Over an over she repeats until I  park in our driveway.


Friday is four days away. As I sit in front of the daycare contemplating the 12:01am check that funds are deposited, I feel that too-familiar wrenching of my stomach. I know there’s not enough money coming in for what has to go out. The reality is that everything is due and no entity collecting is willing to wait. 

School fees are due for both littles by tomorrow. The penalty is steep – added fees and possible disenrollment for one, no admittance on Wednesday for the other.  And I could lament about my usually good on gas truck suddenly guzzling the gallons. MY please just don’t hit empty until after I get all my kids home prayer is ineffective when I’m unable to scrounge up a few bills to make stopping the car at the gas pump worth it. 

I’m not in class this quarter. Three thousand dollars wasnt available for class tuition.  And because I’ve failed myself in this degree pursuit, the reminders of my inadequate school performance haunt me. I mean since when does my student flaunt a bright yellow SCAD shirt? Why is the school suddenly sending recruitors to my job? And why, why, why does everything in my being want desperately to be complaining about a work load instead of finding endless time to waste.  

The taxes are due on both vehicles (as they are every October). Folks are going gaga over pumpkin lattes and I’m preparing for the annual child support fees they’ll pull out of my already-thin monthly “aid” while sipping on pilfered dregs from my dad’s past hotel stays. 

I’m pretty sure that the kids really wanted those $30 spirit wear shirts. And the fundraiser that the school highly encourages each child to sell 15 items for seems laughable. I splurged on school photos believing that $15 was reasonable (I hardly print what I shoot, and discs of memories kinda suck). But somewhere in the many support this endeavors, I have to stop the expenses.

I definitely don’t want to have yet another year of additional work responsibility to garnish a supplemental wage. They didnt make it easy to say no, though, as my “raise” this year is a negative showing on my paycheck. So what am I to do?


Long are the days and short is the time to document all the events of our very busy lives. So much has changed in our family dynamic and though silence has been the assumed response, I want to shout in frustration.

I’ve never been much of a private person. Keeping quite on major happenings feels like a decision to breed confusion, speculation,and wrongly determined conclusion. 

And yet, at his wishes, I silenced myself. I didn’t publicly lament the loss of my son when he began to challenge house rules and ran away to escape them.  I didn’t raise my voice to form the words expressing my horror at having to break up a physical fight between hubs and my teenager. (Fighting to hurt, refusing to back down in the name of manliness isn’t what I’m used to seeing in my home. That’s the stuff you see on social media, shake your head at, and pass judgment on with only a snapshot of knowledge about a stranger’s life.) I didn’t poor out my frustration in being told by responding officers that my son who didn’t come home from school wasn’t “in immediate danger” and did not merit an active search – let alone an Amber Alert. 

I didn’t even allow myself to form the sentences criticising the treatment I received when I was reduced to “stepmother” at his school and was refused ability to access his records and facilitate his transition to a new start.  Though I was mom for four years, I’m not on birth or custody paperwork, and that means I don’t exist, or at least that I don’t count when it’s critical.  

Ignore the e-mails with his teachers and counselor, the meetings at Back to School Night, and the concerts and games to watch him perform. Forget about holding your son as he sobs about his disappointment with blood and trying to comfort him when there is no excuse for rejecting or ignoring your child because life kept going.  Pretend that you didn’t research opportunities, didn’t check on grades and homework, didn’t invest in his well-being beyond scholastics. 
When it counts, I have no say. Even in my home, there was no discussion  when I was told he was not returning to us. The decision didn’t include me. I was simply left to explain his absence to a family who adored him. I was told “it’s done.” And I apologized to his grandparents for having to reject their offer of taking him in (knowing it was a better option to keep him safe and to keep siblings together).

How many times did I ask for him to make contact with our son – to stop severing himself from a boy who desperately needed his father but might be equally stubborn about forgiving ‘the past’? I wonder still if my son read the note I tucked in amongst his things as I packed up his life. Did he hear the “goodbye, I love you” I sent?  Does he know I still miss him? 

In the aftermath, his sister feared for her security. Would we toss her out for something, too? Would Mommy simply let her go “while thinking about the others”? 

And though they weren’t part of the situation, every critical family member drew conclusions. They were fine before, so it had to be the wife. It is an easy assumption, especially when he refuses to defend the scapegoat.

It’s no wonder she thinks I am evil. Did it come as any surprise that she’d forbid her son from coming over? Should I have been shocked to read her text?

I not trying to be funny but I swear I hate your situation u see your sons sometimes because neither one of them fuck with your wife . It’s a sad shame that whole situation u was doing well when u had your own house and e everybody was happy!!!

Confirmation that I’m the villan in the village destroying lives. And no denial from the only one in a position to set the record straight. 

I can only take so much. I can only ignore the slights from his family for so long – – and the awkward gatherings that further distance me as an outsider invading and encroaching on their happiness. I’m the one being held responsible for all the changes. I’m the situation destroying his relationships. 

And I think I’m done being  that woman. There’s nothing I can say when I’m not invited into the conversation. It’s yours, mine and ours – and I didn’t sign up for that. 

Interview with the 7 year and 317 day old

Preferred name: Yadon
Favorite color: blue

Favorite sport: football
Favorite thing to do outside: ride my bike
Favorite thing to do inside: watch TV
Favorite saying (motto): Never give up
Favorite school subject: social studies
What do you like about summer: no school
Best friend: Micah
Dream vacation: the Arctic mountains – I want to build a snow fort
Dream job: Lego designer
Best vacation to date: Tennessee because I got to… That’s hard. Sorry, not my favorite. King’s Creek because I got to go to a water park and somewhere called the Island. Wait… That was Tennessee.
What are you looking forward to this school year: homework. Lots of homework.
What’s your favorite thing to do with your family: go places.
What are you good at: walking up steps without falling.

What else do you want to say: God bless you.

Interview with the teen artist

What is your current age: 13 going on 30. Don’t put that, haha.
What is your favorite television show:  Cut Throat Kitchen. No, wait. ID Channel. It’s not a show, I like the whole network.
Favorite color: purple. It’ll never not be purple.
Favorite school subject: In all honesty, even though I kinda struggle, I really like math. You either get math or you don’t.
Longest Skype conversation: 8 hours long. Continuous or throughout the day?

Interjection from the younger brother: She’s doodoo fresh.

What is your dream job: I want to be an animator or a character designer.

How many days until Freshman year: 48. I knew that from heart. It’s sad that I know.

Who inspires you: Camilla d’Errico, Yuna, and my mom.

What are most looking forward to: In life, or in high school? In life, I’m looking forward to having enough money to sustain myself and still have fun. And for high school, the experience. Because my school is so… exciting, I think it’s just going to be a lot of fun.

What’s your typical phone activity: probably, the one I usually do is go on instagram or skype Kiernan. I look at art and funny videos (Pokemon Go videos and memes, I love memes)

What’s your greatest accomplishment to date: Surviving. Do not put that. Stop. Probably getting into Colgan. That was hard. You had an interview – not like this one, cause its just mom. My mom wasn’t even there ..[in the room].
It was… There was a lot of pressure. I got to look at a lot of artists’ work and they were actually really good. And that oil painter -ahhhk – her work was GORGEOUS.

And what are your immediate plans: Skypeing my friends. Checking the school website daily. I’m going on a couple vacations. And I’m doing my track workouts.

Tell me about your art: I’m a realistic artist. I try to draw hyper realistically, mostly people portraits. I enjoy sketching out with blue pencil. I just got a new desk and so I like to sketch on it. And clean it. I have a wipe. [Mom face palms herself in agony. Child responds ‘I hate you.’ Mom considers how many days are left before college.]

What’s your favorite art piece so far: The one of Yadon.

What’s the silliest art mistake you’ve made: Making a thick oil painting right before needing to  turn it in for my interview. Traumatizing. I spent three hours trying to dry that thing. [who knew it needed to oxidize to dry?]

What do you think about art box subscriptions: I love ’em because it gives you good size samples that I honestly would never buy.

What else do you want to remember about right now: I fall up the stairs every single day. Fall up and down every single day.

I finally got all A’s.

What time is it (besides bedtime past due): It is July 13, 2016 12:03am with 47 days left until school which means I need to update my calendar. [bedtime.] I love you mom. [She licks her. Mom dislikes child’s actions. Banishes her from room. She slips on way out. Brother comes in from his room “stop licking mom!” She does it again. “I cant stop, I love how she freaks out.”]

*recorded by Mom verbatim in third person because she felt like it even though the child considers that weird.
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