Authors: Trish D.
SOMETHING HAD TO GIVE: CHERYL’S SIDE
SOMETHING HAD TO GIVE: CHERYL’S SIDE
2016 by Trish D
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To My Two Amazing Daughters Who Are My Heart, My Soul, My Everything. You Both Mean the World to Me
MIDDLE SCHOOL-1 CHERYL-0
CHERYL + DERRICK
I CAN’T ADULT
SOMETHING HAD TO GIVE
ABOUT THE AUTHO
I would like to express my gratitude to the many people who saw me through this book; to all those who provided support, talked things over, read, advised, and assisted in editing, proofreading, and design.
I would like to thank my family and close friends for their words of encouragement and support in spite of all the time it took to get this book completed.
I would like to thank HireWrite, VisualArts, and StephenWonder for helping me in the process of editing, design, and formatting.
Last and not least, I beg forgiveness of all those who have been with me over the course of this process and whose names I have failed to mention.
I have so many fond memories of my childhood. I lived with my parents, David and Lisa, and my older sister Shanna. We lived in Charlotte, NC in a cozy two story home on the south side of town. I can’t say that I ever felt like my family was perfect, but I had a good upbringing. There were pieces of all my family members that I loved and those that I wasn’t too fond of. Our family quirks were probably the most important to me as I used these as the basis for planning my future. I had my adult life planned as far back as I can remember. It seemed really easy to do. I must have changed it around mentally dozens of times, but in the end I always grew up to be the happiest person on the planet. It made me excited to think about growing up and living out a dream created out of happy experiences and thoughts. The plans for my life were even better than the happy endings that I always saw on TV. My happiness was going to be real! I was going to have real love, a real family, a real career, and best of all, a real American dream.
At the tender age of seven, I decided I was going to be a 2
grade teacher. I was going to be a fun teacher though, not mean and boring like Ms. Edwards. My students would love me. They were going to greet me with hugs in the morning and shower me with nice gifts year round. I definitely wouldn’t be like Ms. Edwards. No one liked her and no one brought her gifts. School was supposed to be fun. Ms. Edwards didn’t make it fun. There was no laughing or talking, unless it was her. Now that I think about it, I don’t even think that the sun shined in her room. It was like the sun knew to skip her class and shine extra bright in Mrs. McCleary’s room. Now, Mrs. McCleary was the perfect teacher. She greeted all her students with a smile and we could always hear uproars of laughter through the thin dark walls of Ms. Edwards’ room. The pictures on Mrs. McCleary’s walls were always so bright and colorful, nothing like the writing assignments Ms. Edwards hung on her wall. Everyone loved Mrs. McCleary even if she wasn’t his or her teacher. On days when Ms. Edwards cancelled recess or gave us extra homework Mrs. McCleary would always be there to give us a big hug at the end of the day. Her warm smile and simple words of encouragement were enough to erase the events of the rough days.
Mrs. McCleary could make any situation better. When Anastasia’s dog died, she had the whole class make her cards. When Kevin broke his arm, she made sure that every spot of his cast was decorated. There was the time I felt so excited that Daddy let me buy lunch at school for the first time ever. It was pizza day and finally I was going to see what the hype was all about. By the time I got to the cash register I was glowing with excitement and Lisa was saving me a seat beside her so we could eat pizza together. As I collected my $.50 in change back and stuffed it in my pocket, I made my way to the table never noticing the small puddle of water on the floor. That small insignificant puddle of water was enough to make me slip and send my lunch tray flying in the air. I landed on my back staring up at the whole cafeteria pointing fingers and laughing at me. After darting out the cafeteria and making a beeline for the bathroom, it was Mrs. McCleary’s kind voice that convinced me to come out and join her on the bench outside the cafeteria. After she calmed me down, she split her peanut butter and banana sandwich with me. Come to find out, she loved peanut butter just as much as I did. We swapped stories about all the weird combinations we had made with peanut butter and when the bell rang for lunch to end, I was so excited about the bond we shared that the remaining laughs about my fall fell on deaf ears. That was typical Mrs. McCleary. She could fix any situation.
I knew I could be like Mrs. McCleary. After all, every student deserved to have a teacher that loved him or her like she loved all kids. Besides, I was smart like all teachers had to be. Ms. Edwards always picked me to read and never had to correct me. There were no stickers or smiley faces put on my test papers, but once she did write “good.” When I asked the other kids, they did not get a “good” note. Yes! I was smart and my younger cousins would agree. They loved for me to read to them, draw pictures with them, and not to mention, I did teach Samantha to write her name. They were my protégé students. I tried my best to be Mrs. McCleary and they loved it. I was nice, cheerful, and patient with them. Best of all, recess was never cancelled. Aunt Michelle was most thrilled that every time they visited, Samantha and Sanaa wanted to “go to school.” Mrs. McCleary would have been proud. I could see her smiling from ear to ear watching my cousins’ enthusiasm for my teaching. It was settled, I was going to be the best 2
grade teacher ever.
“You know teachers don’t make any money!”
These words from my older sister Shanna were like a gut punch. After a visit with Samantha and Sanaa, I felt so proud after a day of teaching and was thrilled to tell Mommy and Daddy of my future plans to teach.
“Why would you pick a job that will make you poor?” she continued as she giggled at my chosen profession.
Shanna enjoyed any opportunity to reduce me to tears. That was one time I was determined to not let her win. I refused to believe that teachers were poor. How could Mrs. McCleary be so happy and loving if she were poor? How could she wear her hair in the most perfect curls and always wear beautiful bright dresses if she were poor? Shanna was wrong! I would not be poor.
“Cut it out Shanna, if your sister wants to be teacher, she should and she will be great at it.”
Daddy was always on my side. He knew I was smart. He knew I was going to make a great teacher. He would never admit it, but he knew I was smarter than Shanna, that’s why he always stuck up for me.
“It’s OK daddy, Shanna’s just jealous! I’m going have a fun job teaching little kids while she does something boring like stare at bugs all day. You’ll be so bored that you will probably fall asleep and wake up when creepy crawly bugs are crawling all over you.”
It was the best my seven-year-old mind could come up with at that moment. Daddy chuckled and even Mommy gave a little smirk. Mommy always remained neutral and her coveted smirk was the fuel I needed to keep going.
“You’ll be pulling bugs out your hair for a week and everyone will call you bug girl.” By this time I was doubled over with laughter while Shanna was shooting knives with her eyes. Deep down I was hoping my jokes were enough to end the discussion and that Shanna wouldn’t feel the need to retaliate. No such luck.
“You’re so funny Cheryl. We will see who’s laughing when you’re so poor, you can’t buy food or new clothes. You will probably have to live in a house the size of a cardboard box and no one will ever want to marry you because you will be so poor. Hahaha…. you want to call me “bug girl?” That’s better than being “dirt poor girl.” And you’re not even that smart or fun! The kids will probably fall asleep in the class and have to repeat their grade because their teacher is as dumb.
“That’s enough! Both of you girls cut it out. We are going to finish the rest of dinner in a civilized manner. No more fighting.”
Daddy finally ended Shanna’s rant and Mommy was no longer smirking, but staring silently down at her plate chewing ever so slowly. I was so thankful Daddy ended Shanna’s rant. I guess he knew the river of tears were soon to come as was the usual ending to our battles. But I didn’t cry. I didn't shed a single tear, at least not on the outside. On the inside I was deflated. I don’t know why I let evil Shanna’s words get to me. After all, she was just jealous of me! She wished she could be as smart….as fun….as pretty as me. Dinner went on with an awkward silence with a few dry jokes from Daddy and forced giggles from Mommy to lighten the mood. I remained silent as did Shanna, but down inside, I knew I had won the battle. She wanted to be a scientist. I didn’t understand why someone wanted to be a boring scientist? I was going to be so much happier than her.
Shanna was five years older than I was and never really got over the fact that I was born into the family. We never really bonded, but that was not my fault, I tried. I invited her to play dolls, but that was too childish for her. I asked to come in her room and watch television with her, but that was unheard of. No annoying little kids were allowed to step foot in her room was what she told me. Through all the insults and snide comments, I had convinced myself that deep down Shanna liked me. She just had to look cool in front of her friends. Her close friends also had younger siblings they didn’t like. Shanna treated her friends like they were her sisters. They would talk and giggle about boys and what happened at school that day. I would sit in the hallway listening to them hoping that I would one day form friendships like that. Shanna trusted them with all her secrets. I could be a good secret keeper. I never told Daddy that I heard Shanna talking about potentially kissing a boy. She could trust me. She just didn’t know it yet. Or maybe she did but couldn’t show it in front of her friends. So I tried to wait until times when they weren’t around to bond with my big sister. The shows on television made it seem so easy. They would get into silly little arguments but by the end of the show, they would hug and be best friends. This is the relationship I wanted with my sister. I just had to try a little harder.
I’ll never forget the day that I took the time to make a fancy invitation for her to attend my tea party. I waited all morning for her to leave her room so I could sneak in and borrow some paper and her markers. Shanna had the good markers. The kind that didn’t dry out after one use like my markers did. I finally got my opportunity when she went to take a shower. I grabbed two sheets of paper in case I messed up on the first sheet, an envelope and markers and darted out the room before she was out the shower. I worked so hard on that invitation; even had Mommy proofread it to make sure I hadn’t misspelled any words. Shanna loved butterflies, so I drew butterflies on the envelope. She was going to be so impressed. Why had I not thought of this sooner? I worked on the invite for over an hour and felt so proud that when I slid it under her locked room door, I could hear her pick it up and open the decorated envelope. That meant she had to read it. So when I spent the next hour setting up the event in my room and putting on my best clothes, I was devastated when 3pm came and she still hadn’t come out her room. By 3:30, I gave up on the idea of her coming and as I began to take my dress off, I heard her door creak open. I sprang to my feet, stood as tall as could, and literally smiled ear to ear. She was late, but that was OK. I was just thrilled that she was coming. As Shanna rounded the corner to my room I greeted her with the most jubilant welcome I could muster. My smile quickly faded as I noticed Shanna wasn’t in fancy clothes as requested in the invitation.
Shanna tore into me the minute she stepped inside my room. “This is more pathetic than I thought! What makes you think I would want to come and sit at the tiny table with you and your stupid bears drinking fake tea? The ONLY reason I came in here is to say that the next time you want to make stupid invitations with my paper and markers, you better ask first.”
After she finished her tirade, I finally saw her smile, but not the “I’m glad to be here smile” that I was expecting. It was an evil grin followed by her ripping the invitation into tiny pieces and drizzling the pieces over my head. Shanna turned to leave, but I was frozen in that spot. I was too stunned with disappointment to move. I wasn’t mad at her actions. I was hurt and it was at that moment I realized that my sister hated me. When I finally moved, it was from my doorway to my bed where I cried myself to sleep only waking when Mommy called me down to dinner. I was still wearing my fancy dress that had become wrinkled and itchy. When I came down to dinner after changing, Shanna was already down in the most chipper mood I had seen in months. When mommy asked her what she wanted to drink with dinner, she took the time to think before a big grin spread across her face and she answered with much satisfaction, “I believe I will have some tea.”
Neither Mommy nor Daddy knew why this was so amusing to Shanna or why I sat at the dinner table crying. Typical Mommy didn’t even try to find out. Her approach was always to stay out it. Let it work itself out or let Daddy handle it. And that’s what Daddy did. He scooped me up in his arms and he gave me one of his infamous bear hugs.
“Never let them see you sweat sweetheart! Don’t let them win!”
Daddy was awesome like that. He knew when I needed a hug, he always gave the best advice, and he was always on my side. Daddy and I had a bond that he didn’t have with Shanna. I could sit for hours and watch daddy work around the house. I even pretended to like sports just so I could spend time yelling at the television with him. Shanna would go to her room when the yelling started. Daddy worked hard too. He sold equipment to hospitals and for as long as I could remember had to travel all over the country. This was the only thing about Daddy that I did not like. I hated when Daddy left. After all, who would stick up for me when the wrath of Shanna stirred up? Who would do silly touchdown dances with me when our team scored?
“Oh sweetheart!” Daddy would say giving me a tight hug when I began to pout about him leaving for a trip. “You know Daddy has to work in order to keep us in our home, clothes on our backs, toys for you and your sister, and most of all to keep peanut butter in the cabinet.” Well when he put it like that, how could I not understand? Besides, Daddy always brought us back the best gifts from wherever he went. The house was always so different when Daddy left. Mommy was even more quiet than normal and spent more time in her room watching television than if Daddy where home. Shanna was the same. Without Daddy home to make her come out of her room, I rarely even saw her. That didn’t leave many options of things for me to do. Often, I felt like I had no other choice but to go to my room also. It wasn’t like that when Daddy was home. He brought us all together and more importantly kept Shanna off my case. Mommy smiled more when he was around. The rare times she seemed genuinely happy were times when daddy was swirling her around the living room to their favorite Motown hits. The stories Daddy would tell about when he and Mommy met would make her eyes light up; like he was the only person on the planet. There was no doubt in my mind that I would marry a man just like my daddy.