So, you’re wondering, “How is Gia”? Well I’m sitting in front of her new school waiting for her to come out, and if today is anything like the first three days this week, she’ll have a smile on her face from ear to ear. The entrance ramp you see in the picture is the same one Zack traversed when he too went to Bowman! The little house he grew up in is just beyond the park in my rearview mirror, and as I sit here now, I can see the faint traces of a younger Zachariah barreling out those doors headed straight for that park. A sweet, innocent, blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy lost deep in a world of solitude, ever so unaware that the feet that were carrying him were already set upon a dark and broken path of “left solely to his own defenses”. But I digress.
Despite the nine plus years we had him “healthy, happy and somewhat whole”, Zack’s spiral descent truly began here at Bowman two years ago when we were searching for proof he’d existed on paper as a child so as to finally get him a birth certificate and passport to travel abroad.
THIS PLACE? Sitting in the very office where Gia and I sat last Friday to “fake enroll her” (with the intention of online school to finish her 8th grade year) was where Zack and I sat waiting to find that, no there was no record of him there. And although we were lucky to find two pictures of him later that day at Memorial Elementary, the brutal reality burned like salt on his soul. But still, the irony. The very place he began falling apart as an adult is where she is coming together as a child. We didn’t choose Bowman intentionally. It just happens that this is the Plano ISD middle school our address feeds to. It was mere coincidence. Or was it? He’s with her here now, I just know it!
Gia’s decision to leave St. Marks wasn’t difficult. It wasn’t the school itself; it’s a great school and I’m proud that both my kids have that legacy. And although I won’t go into the dramatics of it all because honestly, THAT STORY will be an entire chapter to itself, let me say this: The particular class she was with year after year (most notably, the girls) bears the distinction as having one the cruelest and hateful lot of mean kids in the school’s history. To make matters worse, “real dad” began dating the mother of her best friend, which mother and daughter proceeded to embark upon a campaign to quite literally destroy both mine and Gia’s reputations through words and deeds tantamount only to assault: Bullying, belittling, degrading, socially isolating, controlling, threatening, manipulating and even blackmailing and slander. Yes, all true. (PS. “Real dad” is still dating this woman despite the trauma she and her spawn bestowed upon my daughter. But again, I digress.) Gia spent the last five years feeling very alone on that campus, hard pressed to find but a handful of real friends (and thank GOD for those). For the most part, her “friends” saw her as a revolving door, taking or leaving her to best suit their own social needs such that through it all, on her birthday this year? She was checking her phone every ten minutes to see if any of “her people remembered the day she was born (much like every October 5th when Zack would check his phone every ten minutes to see if any of his people remembered him).
Before he killed himself and hurt her VERY BADLY, she was already in such a damaged and fragile state there are no words. Her “tribe”? Those girls she stood by loyally and faithfully, never fail? The ones she always showed up for? Stood up for? Stood behind? The ones whose lockers she made sure were jam packed with treats on their special days? They showed her just what she meant to them on July 18th: NOTHING! No texts. No calls. No cards. NO. THING! Then on the first day of school this year? She cried her fucking eyes out when she got in the car. “Still nothing mom.” You see, she’d decided to err towards the benefit of doubt: “Well, it was summer, maybe that’s why they forgot. Surely they’ll say happy belated birthday when they see me on the first day of school?” You haven’t LIVED until you’ve seen such a beautiful face and equally beautifully heart reduced to such pain at the hands of the people she thought she mattered to. After all they KNEW she’d already been through and after ALL the storms she weathered for and with them? They threw her away like yesterday’s trash and shattered her glass heart into pieces. So, when she was finally released from the hospital and the school decision had to be made, there was NO doubt in her mind: “Mom, I don’t belong there anymore and you know it. Please don’t make me go back.”
So today? I just know she’s coming out smiling. SHE LOVES IT HERE! It’s only been three days and she’s had offers to sit at seven lunch tables. SHE HAS FRIENDS! I. Just. Can’t. I’m telling you people … HE’S WITH HER IN THOSE HALLWAYS, I can feel it in my soul!
(PS) To My Daughter’s “Tribe” AND Their “Trees That The Apples Fall From” Mothers:
Not one of you was EVER good enough for her and thank GOD she finally saw it because QUEENS DON’T TAKE SCRAPS FROM ANYONE! I’d say I’m sorry that her overwhelming shadow kept the light off your bottom-feeder faces, but yah, not so much. She has FORGIVEN YOU FOR EVERYTHING but WILL NOT EVER FORGET! I promise we won’t both be laughing from her perch at the top of EVERYTHING as you desperately flail on the SURFACE LEVEL of the ground as you’re looking UP trying SO hard to escape THIS truth: YOUR GIRLS NEVER DESERVED HER IN THE FIRST PLACE! 😘