When I was 15
I was the stereotypical rebellious, wannabe cool kid.
I tried to fit in with the skaters and punks
because that was my boyfriends crew
and I skipped school to smoke cigarettes with him around Black Lake.
One day I talked to a girlfriend online
and I said that I hated cheerleaders
and if I had a choice would ‘line them all up and shoot them’.
I had never even fired a gun
but it didn’t matter because her mother just wanted any excuse
to stomp out the weeds in her middle class garden.
The next day a police officer showed up at my house
My mother’s jaw was hanging slack but she still managed to holler,
“What did you do?!”
and even he shook his head
because the likelihood that this 5′ tall, 90lb child
was the next school shooter was asinine.
The principal called next, and told me that I couldn’t return
and I argued with this grown woman who terrified me
because I had never been in trouble before.
I made a mistake, I said.
Sure, I was failing all of my classes because I barely attended them
but I always knew that I was smart enough to make it up.
She told me that I couldn’t succeed in her school
and I didn’t know what that meant.
When I reflect on the school year prior
I remember sitting in the hallway and decorating my locker
instead of going to class.
Or laying on the floor, faking a back injury or concussion
and staff walking right past me
I was invisible.
Everyone knew that my mother was sick
and the truth of it rattled through my mind
day after day as the clock ticked on through first, second and third period.
Nobody said anything when I didn’t show up for class
or walked off school grounds
or loitered in halls or bathrooms.
Teacher’s were praised by parents for the work they did but
nobody tried to offer me a hand.
I never had an adult treat me like I had worth
or a future
Until I received services at an alternative school program.
This is why today I work with children
and volunteer at schools
and often offer care services for free.
You would not believe the number of children
who have hardships at home that are still viewed as
bad, disruptive, weeds
when they just need someone to water them
and treat them like they are just another flower
to help them grow.