Day 4- A Day in High School
Wow, there are so many days and experiences!
If I had to classify it short and sweet, I would deem--9th grade: sucky; 10th-12th: for the most part pretty cool with a snag here and there...
You see, there is a stigma that some children who are born from teenage mothers turn out to be mothers themselves. They don’t end up going to college. They end up dropping out before completing high school or they complete high school late. All of these factors.
Plus, my mom didn't have the best reputation. She was deemed as being a bit too carefree with things that should be sacred. (You can read between the lines.)
I spent my entire childhood fighting against statistics—the preconceived notions as to what type of person I would become. I believe it sapped away a lot of my childhood; I had to deal with way too many grown up situations without fully realizing what was going on.
I know some may not believe this, but I was the main one who put pressure on me to excel and go beyond. My grandparents just wanted me to do well in school. They could have never imagined how I would have excelled.
For the most part, I always got straight A’s (actually had nothing but straight A's until about the 11th grade). I got involved in a lot of extracurricular activities.
I didn't shy away from difficult courses or opportunities for advancement.
Like, where I was going to school, most kids didn't get the option to skip certain math courses. However, I tested so well in mathematics that I skipped Pre-Algebra. I did so well in regular English that I was thrown in Honors English courses. Even in the 12th grade, I was taking Calculus and Physics, but one I did have to eventually drop because I was working and doing so many outside activities. I was even permitted to take Accounting, even though the course was mainly reserved for those in junior or senior year of high school. I was taking it as a sophomore and even tutored some of the other students.
Yes, that's me. As you can tell, I did like my bangs, but usually did a better job with roller set than using an actual curling iron. Lipstick I had just started getting kind of comfortable with. The eyeliner, eye shadow, blush..well the advanced makeup stuff--well, forget about it.
Around the end of the school year, just before the seniors graduated, there would always be this awards ceremony. It would recognize stellar achievement in courses throughout the school year as well as announce recipients of various scholarships from colleges, universities, and community organizations.
My grandparents would have been happy with me just finishing high school.
My mom had never finished. My two youngest uncles had. I didn't know about my other aunts and uncles. For them, finishing high school was a great achievement, since my grandfather’s learning stopped at middle school and my grandmother’s learning stopped around junior high/high school.
I came into the awards thing, always feeling hopeful, but trying not to expect much. It kept my disappointment down when I didn't place (cause some awards were 1st, 2nd and 3rd) while others just had one winner, sometimes two (like the community scholarships).
My senior year, I not only got awards for my placement in certain subjects, I received a variety of scholarship money from organizations throughout the community. Also, I received scholarship offers from five different colleges; in most cases, the scholarships covered my entire schooling.
My grandma was ecstatic for me. She cried tears, which I still believe were not only tears of joy but also of triumph).
It had been so much of a struggle—it had been just Grandma, Grandpa, and me. My Uncle residing in Cali would help when he could. My grandpa’s sister, Aunt E, would always help.
But others who were close (in the general area), especially Uncle T, would not even extend his hand. He believed that my grandparents, particular my grandma, was showing favoritism to me because at times, he wanted them to do the same things for his child as they were for me. There would be big arguments about it, too.
One day, my grandma just said, “Your child has you; she has her mother. Hell, her mother’s entire family chips in and helps! Who does Monica have? We are the only family she truly has! Your sister ran off chasing some man; the so-called daddy hasn't shown up. She hasn't provided one dime. She rarely even calls to check on her child! If anything, instead of begging us to help you with your child, you should be trying to help us out with Monica!”
Uncle T may have still felt the same way, but he kept his grumbles to himself after that.
My mom was nonexistent, not just with communication but also with any type of financial assistance, even when Grandma would ask.
My mom didn't sign over custody, which limited my receiving any type of benefits from my grandfather being in the military. She was too caught up in having the title of being “my mother” but not doing any action to represent it. Or maybe she was just so bitter about how things turned out.
They found out my mom was never going to really help so they had to do it themselves.
My grandmother thought about applying for food stamps, but she saw all of the excess digging (divulging of personal information) just for a tiny bit of money, and decided it really wasn't worth all the intrusion.
My grandparents had never applied for credit cards, but ended up doing so to have extra money to do for me when their money ran out.
It was very rough, but my grandma seeing me holding all of those awards made the entire struggle worth it. She had done well. She and Grandpa both had done well.
For me, this broke the chains of the stigma. I wasn't seen in the neighborhood as “Faye’s daughter” anymore. I was seen as “Florence and Ike’s baby.” It hit home for them that I was nothing like my mother, and they were thankful for that. I was the neighborhood success story, and I was going far beyond just a high school diploma.
I was first generation.
I was going to college, and my mom didn't have a damn thing to do with it.
Day four, that’s a wrap!