Why we’re always ‘chickens’ and why our home is the ‘coop’ I will never know. I mean – we look and act nothing like chickens! But people always like to know when we’ve flown from said ‘coop’. Well – I flew the coop, or rather fled, when I was in sixth grade. Ah yes – I know what you’re thinking. I was young, but I was also very independent. Having grown up in a family that moved every year of my childhood due to my Fathers service to our country, I was always stuck at home. My family was everything to me; the only people I ever spoke to because I never had enough time to establish any real ‘best friends’ since I was always on the go. From an early age, I was prepared to pack up my room in boxes whenever my mom said “go”. Finally – I heard it one last time.
“Go”, my mother said. We were currently in Alabama, preparing to trek across the states to Idaho. My dad had just retired from twenty years of service to the military – ten of the Army, ten of the Navy. My parents decided that instead of staying put we needed to move one last time up to the great Northwest. I don’t know why – there was nothing wrong with the South to me. I got to run around in the sun, I was tan, I liked where we lived… but no – to the ice land they wanted to go, and in the ice land we have stayed.
Finally having the opportunity to settle down was a weird concept for me. Even after eleven years, it’s still hard. I still have an itch inside to pick up and move. But at that time, for a “tween”, settling down was the best thing ever. I was going to make friends! I was going have a home! I was convinced my life and worries would be solved. I was ready to go to public school. Oh yes – don’t be fooled. There’s no way my mom was going to put up with all the different school systems around the country AND the world! We had been homeschooled. Yes. We were. I was awkward. I had no sense of style. My mom let me dress however I wanted, which usually meant I wore hot pink stretchy pants, socks with sandals, and my brothers ‘super cool’ camouflage t-shirt. Yes – I was one good looking kid. But aside from all my lovely quirks, I was thrilled to go to public school. However, my mom stepped on that dream real quick.
I continued to be homeschooled. My mom felt it was a better education (and as I’ve learned now – it is). Most of all, she wanted to stay close with her kids. But being stubborn and the awful child that I was, she let me go to public school part time. She allowed me to take classes at a middle school in areas she couldn’t help me excel in; classes such as pottery, keyboarding, and acting. I loved it all! I was making friends, I was riding a school bus, I had a locker combination that went with the dreaded bottom locker. But still – I loved that too! But for whatever reason, there was something about myself that was changing. It wasn’t a good thing.
As my time at public school went on, my patience with my family became shorter and shorter. I was constantly irritable. When asked why I was acting out, I would just tell them “I had a bad day at school” even though every day at school felt like heaven! I couldn’t see the connection between my attitude and my time at public school, even though I was learning how to be sassy; give adults grief till they give you what you want, complain about something simple being too hard till my teachers cut the assignment in half, or doing the front side of my worksheet while my friend did the back so we could trade and have all the answers. I was learning all these tricks from my peers because they looked so happy! They were getting everything they wanted. Who doesn’t want everything? I felt like going to a middle school was the best thing I had ever done! However, my grades were beginning to drop. I began to get tired of doing my homework in our ‘school room’, and I wanted to spend the least amount of time with my mom as I could.
It wasn’t just her – it was my brother, Thomas, too. I don’t know why but in my mind I hated him. But sooner than later, that hate was soon beginning to show through my actions and attitude. I felt like every word that came out of his mouth was annoying. I thought that everything he did was an attempt to be ‘mommy’s favorite’. I felt like any time he was near me it took every sense of self control not to lean over and slap or scratch him! I wanted him away from me. I didn’t want him in the room with me. I wanted him gone. I often made him do everything for me – and he would because he thought it would earn my affection and approval. I would kick him off the computer, claiming I had “important public school homework to do”, but would play games for an hour before I started my assignment that would take only ten minutes. I felt like I had to make him sad. I had no problem making him cry. I didn’t flinch when I heard him screaming at me, begging me to release his arm from the torturous “Indian burn”. I felt like my day wasn’t done till Thomas had cried or complained to my mom.
I was living in a mindset that if things weren’t my way it was wrong. I thought that if things weren’t my way, my family didn’t love me. I was living with an attitude that was beyond selfish – it was literally evil! I’m appalled at myself that I treated my brother this way. I can’t even think of a real reason as to WHY I treated him like this! I remember always asking myself this. “Why do you need to be mean?” and all I could tell myself was “It’s just the way I am”. I had convinced myself that I was born mean – that I didn’t know any better and couldn’t learn any better. The pressure to act perfect for my parents felt overwhelming, so I just let it all go.
It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school did I realize how much pain I was causing my family. After yet another fight with my parents, ending with my mom in hysterical tears and my dad slapping me so hard I fell back into a chair – still un-phased and unemotional to everything happening around me – until my sister, who was completely uninvolved in the argument, took off in her car and didn’t come back for a day and a half. When she did finally come home, she came and found me right away. She started cry, didn’t say anything, but took me into a hug and just held me. It felt so strange – I didn’t really know how to respond. Finally, she sat me down and talked to me about how my angry outbursts with our parents and brother were hurting her. She hated the fact that she couldn’t tell her friends how insanely close she was to her baby sister. She gave me heart shaped sticky notes and dry erase markers. It was time to start leaving kind thoughts on our mirrors and around our rooms so we knew how much we cared for each other. I thought she was crazy, but then I realized I was crying too.
My attitude through high school was better, but certainly not perfect. My relationship with my sister has strengthened immensely which helped whenever I argued with my mom. Having my sister to turn to was a huge help. Like anything it’s still a work in progress. Being away from home has helped because the choice to go home and spend time with everyone is up to me. I do miss them! I call my mom about every other day. I Skype with my brothers! Things are much better, but they still aren’t the best.