My sisters and I were huddled together in our bedroom, my baby brother soundly sleeping in his crib in the room next to us. All of this while our parents fought in the kitchen. We were living in a small rancher with a finished basement and a main floor. The kitchen was right inside the breezeway door and our room(s) were directly to the left of the kitchen. Our room was so close to the kitchen that the noises/sounds of our parents fighting were very loud. This was not the first time that my parents had fought like this, screaming at each other was normal to them. The sounds of chairs being pushed against the wall and the cries from my mother got louder and louder as the fight went on. Finally I could hear … “That’s it Mike, I am leaving, and the kids are coming with me!”
Sitting there on my older sister Lauren’s bed, we cuddled together and hugged one another, I could feel both my sister’s shoulders relax as her hug loosened. Although this was nothing I ever really wished and hoped to hear come out of my mother’s mouth; at this point I just wanted our parents to be normal and happy. You know, that perfect couple who is always happy, full of love and laughter, and just infatuated by one another. Of course, I wanted them to have/feel this while still being together, but I knew by this point they would not achieve such happiness until they were apart. Being together was no good for them, they showed such hatred towards each other; and my sisters and I could no longer stand to bare the cries coming from my mother.
My mother stormed into our bedroom and said, “Lets go girls, I am getting your brother and we are going to Aunt Jonna’s for the night.” My mother was crying as she spoke and was red in the face. Walking fast, we follow my mother to her car. As we all climbed into the car, my dad, unshaven face and dark, bloodshot, squinted eyes, stood in the kitchen window watching us and there was no emotion or sadness in his eyes. His three little girls, ages 11, 8, and 5, and his little boy, age 2, were leaving him and I saw nothing but relief in his dark eyes as they opened wider and his face relaxed.
I could not stop asking myself why? Over and over again as we drove to my Aunt Jonna’s house, I continued to wonder why this was all happening. We stayed at Aunt Jonna’s for about a month, until my mother came to us one day and told us we would be moving into a small apartment right up the street. Little did we know that it was going to be with a man we barely knew. She had known this man when she was married to my father, however, they were only good friends. When my mother and father split, this man, Art, was almost immediately in the picture.
The apartment we were moving into was right across town from where my father was still living in the rancher. It was small and old, but I was simply glad that it was in walking distance to my dad’s. I could walk out my door and turn right toward the main road, walk a block up to the cemetery, and then all I had to do was make a left and walk past the cemetery, down the hill to my dad’s house. The only other upside to this apartment was that my siblings and I were not going to have to change schools. Our school was right across the main road and down a short alleyway. Although I was relieved that I would not have to change schools and I would still be able to see my dad, I still couldn’t help but wonder why this was all happening. Why weren’t my parents getting back together? After the split, they barely spoke to one another. Only speaking when they came to pick my siblings and I up to go to the other’s house. I could only help but wonder if this was normal. Do all divorced parents stop talking to one another? Were they not speaking because of something I or my siblings did? I was a confused little girl with so many questions.
My siblings and I ended up spending every other weekend with my father during the school year; and, when summer came we would spend every other week with him. It had been a year since we left our father; and although I was still filled with sadness from being apart from him, I was finally at ease with the split of my parents because they were beginning to talk more. I was still confused and full of questions, however, I was glad that our parents were happy again and actually able to get along with each other better. My father was finally going on dates and meeting new people, and my mother and Art were happy and in love.
My older sisters did not like Art very much because he had a gloomy look to him and drank everyday practically all day, but I on the other hand liked him very much because he talked to me and made me laugh. We would wash dishes together, we had the same favorite ice cream (chocolate chip mint – but it had to be the green kind), and we would sing and dance to the musical band Fuel. I loved the weekends at my mother’s apartment with Art. We would sit in our tiny, light pink painted living room and watch music videos all day. However, he was not as close to my sisters. I was too young to understand what it was about Art that my sisters did not like. All I knew was I could feel myself becoming happy again. My mother had what I saw as an amazing man in her life. This made me smile more and I felt like there could be a possibility for us to feel like a complete family again. All for the first time since we and my mother left that night one year ago.
It was the first day back to school; it was my first day as a second grader, and I felt like I was not like the rest of the kids in my class. As my mother dropped me off out front of the elementary school, I would watch as the rest of the kids were being dropped off by both of their parents and being sent off with hugs and kisses. It was not long before I began to feel sad again; feeling lost and confused at why I was not able to have the same life as these other kids.
I walked into my classroom for the first time on a Monday morning. The room was bright with pictures and artwork displayed all around the room. I couldn’t help but feel happy looking around at the artwork and the other students. My teacher, Mr. Young, greeted me at the door with a hug and a smile and asked where I would like to sit. I pointed to the table (desks turned against each other to make it look like a table) in the front corner by the windows and he walked me over and introduced me to the 3 other kids already sitting at that particular table. “Kids, this is Morgan and she would like to join your table.” Kasey, Davey, and Cole, were their names. Kasey, Davey, Cole, instantly started chatting and laughing about the adventures they had over the summer. I could not relate to this. My summer was not full of adventure, but rather was full of sadness and tears. The three of them looked at me and said, “Morgan, we usually sit together at lunch too, would you like to sit with us?” I thought to myself, “you know, I think I am going to like this place!” and then answered yes very enthusiastically. Looking around at the 4 other round tables in the classroom, all in a circle, I smiled. I could not help but feel as if I was going to be part of a family again, only much bigger!
Mr. Young started class only 10 minutes after I walked in and sat at the table with my new friends. He started class in a way that I had never started a class before; He asked us all to come up and sit in a circle at the front of the class. The front of the classroom had a colorful rug, just big enough for the 18 kids to fit on indian style. We sat and told jokes, stories, asked questions; and he joined in with us. Once again I thought to myself, “I feel like a part of a family again and I never want this to end.” A feeling I had not felt since my mother and father were together and happy. I could not help but think to myself, “this is going to be the start of something amazing.”
The end of the school year was coming. Only 3 more weeks until summer was here. I didn’t want to think about this day because it meant that I would be spending my days at home with more time to think about the sadness I was filled with. I began filling my head with questions again about why I couldn’t have that perfect, happy family and fun filled summers with my parents that all my friends from school were having. Throughout the past 6 months, Mr. Young had taught me so many new things, along with helping me feel things I had never thought I would be able to feel again. He was not the conventional teacher that everyone thinks about, but rather he was very original and fun. “Let’s have class outside today, what does everyone think?” “YESSSSS!!” the class shouted.
Inside and outside the classroom, Mr. Young was able to bring the class together and we would always do something spontaneous as a class. I can remember all the interesting things he brought to the classroom: the time he brought baby chicks in for everybody to take care of for a week, our class pet Socks (he was a rabbit with white pads of fur on his feet), and even an iguana! These animals made the atmosphere so much happier and made it feel more like home, rather than a school. The iguana was the creepiest. It was in a tank at the back of the classroom, I could turn to my right and see it perched on a branch and I would cringe, but at the same time it was interesting to come incontact with so many new things. This man was amazing, I could truly feel a connection with him and could not help but get excited every morning to go to school. He was like a father figure in my eyes.
The dreadful day was here. It was the last day of school. All of the kids in my class were crying and hanging on Mr. Young because none of us wanted to leave. Mr. Young had made school so much fun, instead of making it feel like a dungeon where you would go to put your head in a textbook and write all day. It was this class that took my focus off of all the sadness I felt outside of school; and here it was coming to an end, what I thought of as “family” was breaking up once again. Was this something to do with me? Was I the reason this was all happening again?
But then, before the final bell rang for us to go home, I can remember as clear as day the words that came out of Mr. Young’s mouth, “I hope everyone has a wonderful summer, and before I forget, I will see you all next year in 3rd grade!” “Yayyyyyyy!” the classroom roared. For those of you who do not understand, this meant that Mr. Young was moving up to 3rd grade with the rest of us. He had gone to the school board because he had felt the same connection to all of us that we had felt with him. He must have given them a good pitch because they allowed him to move up and continue to remain as our homeroom teacher.
The summer flew by, 3rd grade flew by even faster, and before I knew it the summer was here once again. Mr. Young had touched my life and I could not thank him enough for helping me get through all of the hard times that I was going through at home. Little did I know that at the end of the school year he would be leaving and moving to a different school district. He announced: “I am sorry my dear kids, but I will not be able to move forwad with you again, I will be transferring to Canadochly Elementary next year.” My heart was broken. Sitting at our table, Kasey, Davey, Cole and I began to cry. As our parents filed into the room to take us home, I couldn’t help but realize that my mother was not there to pick me up. Since I only lived right across the main street Mr. Young offered to walk me home. He reached out for my hand and we walked.
As we reached my apartment building, he opened the door and walked up the narrow stairs that led to my door. There I was, standing in front of my mother’s apartment door, not knowing what would come next in life. As I reached to open the door, dropping my hand and turning back, I squeezed/hugged Mr. Young. With a tear running down my cheek and a smile on my face, I said “Thank you Mr. Young!” and turned and ran inside closing the door behind me. Inside was my father and mother sitting on the living room couch laughing while my two sisters sat on the floor in front of them. My father of course was there to take my siblings and I to his house for the first week of summer, but as I stood there, frozen, all I could think was what a beautiful sight! I smiled and thought to myself, “everything is going to be alright!”