So, you’re wondering …
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. For the record, 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 a few blocks away from the the park in my rearview mirror, and as I sit here, I can see the faint traces of the younger him barreling out those doors headed straight for that park. A sweet, 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 to his own defenses”.
Despite the nine years we had him healthy, happy, and somewhat whole, Zack’s descent truly began here at Bowman two years ago when we were searching for proof he existed on paper as a child and finally get him a proper birth certificate and a passport.
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. Although we were lucky to find two pictures of him later that day at Memorial Elementary, the brutal reality burned him like salt on his soul. 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!
Her decision to leave St. Marks wasn’t hard. It wasn’t the school itself; it’s great and I’m proud that my kids have that legacy. Although I won’t go into the dramatics, because that story will be a 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 lot of mean kids in the school’s history.
Worse yet, “real dad” began dating the mother of her best friend, both of whom embarked upon a campaign to literally destroy both mine and Gia’s reputations through words and deeds tantamount only to assault: Bullying, belittling, ostracizing, isolating, threatening, manipulating, and even blackmailing and slander. He’s still dating her, by the way, despite the trauma she and her spawn bestowed upon my daughter.
Gia spent the last five years feeling so alone on that campus, hard pressed to find but a handful of real friends. For the most part, her “friends” saw her as a revolving door, taking or leaving her to best suit their own needs, such that on her birthday this year? She was checking her phone every ten minutes to see if any of “her tribe” remembered the day she was born (much like every October 5th when Zack would check his phone every ten minutes to see if his people remembered him).
Before he left us and hurt her VERY BADLY, she was already damaged and fragile. Her “tribe”? Those girls she stood by loyally and faithfully? The ones she always showed up for, stood up for, and 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!
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 on the benefit of doubt:
Well, it WAS summer, so, 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 “tribe” she thought she belonged 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 wasn’t a 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’ll be coming out of that school with a smile! 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’m telling you people … HE’S WITH HER IN THOSE HALLWAYS, I can feel it in my soul!
TO HER “TRIBE” AND THE TREES YOU FELL FROM:
None of you was ever good enough for her, so, 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, NO! While we’ve forgiven you for everything, never will we forget! I promise we won’t be laughing from her perch at the top of EVERYTHING as you desperately flail around on the surface-level ground you will remain on as you’re looking up at my daughter’s presence and choking on THIS truth: Lions don’t concern themselves with the opinions of the sheep.
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