Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My edumacation part 6

It's early & I'm not all that much of a rise & shine kind of person. More like a rise & fall.

My memory gets really cloudy from this time until I'm about 19. I don't know what to attribute it to - except I did do some drugs & drank some during this time. I didn't ever get addicted to anything (except nicotine - but that came earlier, anyhow), but I did my fair share - once in a while in excess.

I don't think I started my senior year at a traditional high school because it isn't working out that way in my head. I think I dropped out before the end of the previous school year, but this is neither here nor there - I dropped out & got on a list of students waiting to go to the alternative high school, Eastlake AHS. (I'm losing track of my time line in my head & trying to work out some of the exacting times of all of this...the year before was significant in that I struggled everyday, but insignificant in this story).

I was not getting along with my dad and was in & out of our house. I would go stay with friends and eventually, I moved out.

When I started attending this new school (I was still at home), I was thrilled & amazed by the atmosphere of it. We called all of our teachers by their first names. I can remember many of them because in one way or another, they truly impacted my life - Sandy, Mike, Donna, Matt (I can't remember my math teacher's name - Gene, maybe - but he really helped me to understand a subject I never seemed to truly grasp). Donna #1 really influenced me - she'd begun a peer counselling group & those of us students who got involved went away for a weekend retreat. That was an amazing weekend. I wish I could remember more of it. (More friends that made an impact on me - Dawn, Karen, Brett, Jason, Chris. If any of you happen to blog & stumble across me - I'd love to hear from you!) After that, the counselling wasn't as fruitful for other students or us - not nearly as much as we'd expected it to be. We felt like we could really make a difference, but not many of us were given that opportunity, as no one used these student services much.

When I moved out of my family home, I moved in with Carmen - my baby's daddy's mom. She has always been a giver in the truest sense. She never expected anything in return & she had done much more for me on an emotional level when it came to Steven & dealing with new motherhood. Carmen was a true gift in my life. And, yes, Steven's dad lived there, too, but we were long over any lust we had for one another - loooong over.

It was funny (odd, not "haha") - when I first moved in there, during the first week - I had a series of extremely disturbing nightmares. They were so disturbing, I remember 3 of them very vividly today. When I talked to Carmen about those, she did help me to realize the significance of them & what I was dealing with mentally. You see, my dad & I had a constant power struggle - even before Steven. Once Steven came, the battles did intensify & we fought much more often. He always knew the "right" thing to do with him and I thought I knew better. Because, look at the job they did with me - I was a real gem, I couldn't justify what I knew about their parenting skills & I thought I would do more. My dreams were significant in that dad was the demon/bad guy out to get my son. All of the dreams had me running for my life with Steven in tow because the bad guy/thing was desperately after Steven.

Back to school. It was an amazing school. I loved it, I was actually succeeding and getting good grades (a first for me, the consistency of good grades). In this school, a student is allowed 5 absences during any 9 week period. Sick or not sick, only 5 were allowed. It's one of those rules that cannot be broken, along with a few rules about grades. The waiting list was long & those who wished to take advantage of the program had to abide by them or suffer "recycling". I had taken 4 days off during the second quarter to tend to a sick child. I couldn't send him to day care sick, so of course I stayed home with him. The 5th day, I took for myself. I was feeling overwhelmed and needed a break. If I am in the right place of memory, I also had a part time job during this time.

Not too long after that 5th absence, and I can't remember the exact thing, but I had to take another day off for Steven. I believe he was sick again - he was my only child prone to ear infections & I believe that was the why. I called the school & talked to Donna #1. She told me that I had to take the day, because really, I had no choice. I explained to her that I did not want to be "recycled" because this meant I would lose all of my course credit for the 2nd quarter (the quarter was nearly over - winter break was only a few days away, I think) and have to sit out all of the 3rd quarter. She told me that she would talk to Donna #2 - the dean of students/administrator of the school.

When I went back the next day, I expected to be called in - but that didn't happen. The next day, I was called in & informed of my recycling. I pleaded my case - even explained that I did take one day for myself. I cried and begged for them not to recycle me & they reiterated that rules were rules & I had to abide by them like everyone else. This was Donna #2 I was talking to. Back then, a girl with a baby was not nearly as commonplace as it is today. I pleaded that part, too & that I was trying so hard to do things right & get my education. All of this to no avail.

I spent the next 2 weeks of vacation contemplating what to do & talking to Carmen & Karol about what we thought our options would be. Both of them fought for me over the next month. This turned into an education about how education politics worked. After break was over, we went to 3 schools to try to get me in & not lose credits so that I could graduate on time. The 2 schools within the district outright refused to let me attend until after the 3rd quarter was over, stating the rules. Donna #2 even showed up at my THS conference to plead her case about rules & waiting lists. The 3rd school, Ranum HS outside the district, had a very wise & comfortable man at the dean of students desk. He told me I could attend, but I would be required to pay their "out of district" fees.

He then proceeded to explain how it may be better for me, at 17 with a 2 year old child, to just consider getting my GED. He knew the "out of district" fees were exhorbitant & that I couldn't afford them, but he also knew he couldn't waive them. He gave me an outlet of a near by community college to call for the GED classes. He told me that in the short time we spoke, he realized I was an intelligent young woman & that I should get started on moving my life forward - for my benefit & that of my child. Karol went with me for this one & she could see how upset I was. We talked about the option mentioned by the dean & we thought it was extremely plausible.

I never did graduate from high school, but in December of the year I would have graduated, I did get my GED with a nearly perfect score.

Before this happened, over the course of the rest of the year, I struggled the most ever. Shortly after my "recycling", Carmen & I had our heart to heart about Steven. We talked about my fears of his resentment & not being able to do a good enough job because my examples were not good ones. I talked about how many huge mistakes I'd made already (cause there were a few huge ones) and how guilty they made me feel even though no one was worse for wear. We discussed how it would make me a stronger person to admit my inability to give my child all I could. We discussed how I was so young & it was all too much for me with family instability and an innate fear of the future for just me alone. It took me a while, but I decided that if Carmen was offering to give Steven a good home, I was willing to accept her gift. She always (for years) reassured me that Steven knew all about me & my love for him - and this turned out to be absolutely true.

Not a week after that, Eric (Steven's dad) & I had a good brawl. Well, I brawled - he held me down (actually, he lifted me off his girlfriend & dropped me on the couch). You all know I couldn't stay there after this. Right after the showdown, Carmen took the time to explain to me why I couldn't stay. I know she was pissed & hurt, but I think she knew where some of my aggression was coming from - but I was still really angry with her, too.

I juanted off to home with mom & dad, then nowhere land. My life after that was a series of awful mistakes & learning experiences. Including the fact that I had truly given my son up. Once I was out of her house, I think to protect herself and Steven, Carmen made it so that we (I & my parents) couldn't see Steven unsupervised for a while. Carmen didn't trust my parents and she was still unsure about my plans, too. None of this went over well with mom & dad. They didn't understand several things - first & foremost, why I took Steven away from them. Couple that with our own dysfunction & bam - we have a big ole dilemma with fighting amongst ourselves.

So, this was my education. This was how I spent my youth - learning adult lessons & not really gaining experience or knowledge from them until I was much older. If I had any regrets - I can boldy name 2 - giving Steven up (who knows how good or bad I'd have done with him - I think I would have tried harder, done better sooner if I had him. On the other hand, it could have all gone terribly wrong & I could have screwed him out of a good life with his g-ma.) and not furthering my education beyond a GED. I could have used the "No Child Left Behind" laws back then. As much as that boosted my confidence (because I did what I was told & did it well), getting my GED was also devastating in a way, as was having the out to give Steven up. Both taught me an easy way out. Those are not good lessons. I used the "easy way out" for a very long time after & didn't take responsibility for my actions until much later on. Some things I still struggle with today.


Angie said...

What an amazing story you have shared about your life. I have been reading from the beginning. Thank you for sharing and hopefully your story will help other's that may experience some of the same things.

By the way, I tagged you on my blog, so come on over and take a look!

Blarney said...

Sounds like despite the hard times you've turned out to be a pretty kickin' Mom. Don't discount all the great things you've accomplished since.

O'Neal (The woman in charge around here) said...

TAG! You're it! See my blog to play along, please? ;)


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