As a teenager it was an unwritten rule that I act as bad ass and emotionless around my family as much as possible. Looking back on it now I have no idea why I was like that but at that time I had legitimate reasons for everything that I did. I was in a constant battle with my mother over the boy that I swore was my soulmate and would stop at nothing to prove to everyone that we belonged together. That resulted in almost nightly arguments with my mother who hated him with every breath in her body. My sister and her two little boys had moved in with my mom and I so they were unfortunately subjected to my stubborn teenage attitude and my regular screaming matches with mom. Usually after mom and I were done yelling I would retreat to my room, slam the door and turn up my music real loud (yep, I’m sure that showed her, huh?) one day after a particular loud argument I went into my room, slammed my door and plopped down on my bed. Then, I heard a few taps on my door.
then a few more……..
“Aunt Stacey? Can I come in?”
my little five year old nephew Brian was standing at my door with his lips pressed between the crack of the door and the frame. Tapping his fingers rhythm style while he asked again
“Can I please come in?”
I opened the door and he looked up at me with a smile. I had laid down the law early on when my sister moved in with the boys that they were to ask before coming in my room. As if my room held the legendary chamber of secrets, it was still my safe haven and whatever privacy I had at home I intended on keeping in tact.
“Yeah, come in”
As he walked in I closed the door (loudly) behind him, making my point to whoever else was in the house that I was still upset. He sat down on the edge of my bed and looked around. I know he didn’t have any clue what I was upset about or what was going on, he just knew that tensions were high in our homestead and he wanted to lighten the mood. That day I know I must have vented to him at least a dozen teenage angst’y issues and I know he didn’t really understand a word of what I was talking about. Still, he sat there patiently and listened as if he did. Even if he didn’t say a word during my entire rant it didn’t matter, it still helped because he was there, and he cared enough to listen. After that we would ‘hang out’ pretty regularly when I was home, even if it was to hide in my room and listen to music. It made it easier to be home when my sister and the kids were home, especially as the tension between my mother and I worsened the older (and more emotionally dependent) I became to my ex boyfriend.
One particularly awful weekend I had been sick off and on for the past few days and started worrying that I may be pregnant. The last thing I wanted to do was tell my mom so I kept it to myself for the time being until I was sure. That Monday I skipped school and went to the health department down the street and took a pregnancy test. It came back positive. When I told my ex that I was pregnant he said he was elated but warned me that if anything ever happened to him that his family would make sure that the baby was raised by THEM and not me. (** more on this subject will be explained in another entry.. it’s just too much to go into right now!**) I kept the ‘big news’ from my mother for a few days until one night when I didn’t come home from school and instead had gone out with the boyfriend and went to one of his father’s employees’ homes. His dad was one of the ‘top bosses’ (or so he kept telling me, who knows if it was even true) and I noticed that a small group of people that worked for his dad enjoyed ‘sucking up’ to the boss’s son. Chris would bring me along to their house (which only was a few blocks from mine) on nights they played board and roleplaying games such as Dungeons and Dragons. Despite the fact that they were all at least twice our age, they were all really nice people and I enjoyed visiting with them. My mother, on the other hand was furious. In her mind they must have been mentally unstable sickos to allow two teenagers to go to their house. One night we were at their house and my mother comes knocking on their front door. I have no idea how she found out where we were but just seeing her standing on that porch with that enraged look on her face made me want to crawl into a little hole and die…. That night when I came home it was on between my mom and I! Not only had she embarrassed me but she made an ass out of herself acting the way she did to people she didn’t even know! As we argued my nephew came out of his room and stood quietly in the hallway. I know he hated to hear us fight and deep down I hated for him to witness anything like this, ever.
“Stacey! I’ve had it with your SHIT!”
“You are going to be a LOSER just like he is! You are throwing your life away!”
“He is never allowed in this house, ever again!”
That last thing she said sent me over the edge! I remember my eyes welling up with tears and sucking in a huge breath of air as I blurted out
“Well then you’ll never see your grandchildren!!!!”
The silence was deafening after that. My mom sat there and looked at me, speechless with her mouth open. I had no idea what she was going to yell next… but she didn’t yell, she spoke softly.
“So, that’s how it’s going to be… you’re pregnant now…”
Out of the corner of my eye I noticed Brian had vanished from the shadows of the hallway where he had been standing and listening to us this whole time. I imagined him running into his room, jumping into his bed and hiding underneath the covers to prepare himself for what could only be described as “Mom-ageddon”
“YES! I’m pregnant! and I feel sick, and I don’t need this stress! and I hate YOU! and I hate that you hate Chris because I love him and I am going to marry him!” I was so mad I could feel my cheeks flush, and my stomach wanted to throw up. I knew the neighbors could probably hear me yelling and at that moment I didn’t care. In my eyes my whole life was crumbling down because nobody understood me. My mom just sat there and shook her head slowly, burying her face into her hands. I can only imagine now what she was thinking… her stupid daughter, and that jerk boyfriend of hers just got themselves into one of the biggest messes of all. She started ranting on about how I would never go to college now and never have a career. All of these things that in her eyes had been within grasping distance of me had all been yanked away forever because now I was going to be a teen mom. She couldn’t even factor consider any of Chris’s family into this situation as being any form of help either.. my mom didn’t like Chris’s father and she thought his mother was a delusional wackjob. I could tell the gears in my mother’s head were spinning trying to figure out how to even start to comprehend what was going to happen next. I know she had toyed with the idea of tossing me out of the house more than a few times. A couple years before all of this I had abruptly left the house to go live with my father and his new wife for a short time, but that hadn’t worked out very well. Back when my step mom and I didn’t get along at ALL. I was still in the mindset that my mom and dad belonged together and the best thing for both of them was to get back together. In my mind Donna was just a homewrecker and us living under the same roof was, in her words “a living hell”. Anyways, after that short time I had moved out I think my mom had an easier time accepting me getting out to learn life on my own. Lord knows I wasn’t listening to her!
Just then I felt a gentle tap on my arm. Little Brian was standing next to me with one of his backpacks over his shoulder that he used for school. He had some items stuffed into it, books, etc. Tucked underneath his arm was a stuffed toy rabbit that I knew was one of his favorite. It was a white rabbit with longish springy ears. Brian used to tell me that this toy was especially special because it had ‘caught his very first tears”.
“Grandma? Aunt Stacey?”
I was in no mood for anything else, and that bitchy, nasty, stone faced teenager once again surfaced in me. I had never lashed out at my little nephew before .. until now. He reached up to tap my arm again and I jerked away from him, even startling myself that I had done it. I looked down at him and heaved in a huge annoyed sigh.
“WHAT DO YOU WANT??” He jumped a bit when I snapped at him but still held tightly onto his backpack and that bunny. He then turned to my mom, his grandma
He then said what has to be one of the sweetest things I had ever heard…
“We need to start selling some things so we can have some money for Aunt Stacey’s baby”
Setting his backpack that contained some of his prized belongings down at my feet he looked up at me and smiled, then starting to talk about when we should plan a garage sale as soon as possible.
“I have more things I’ll bring out. A whole bunch! We can make a lot of money!”
I honestly didn’t know what to say… a lump had formed in my throat that really made me want to throw up. After all the fighting between my mom and I and all the bullshit we were yelling at one another, the only thing this little boy cared about at that moment was the baby. As young as he was, he was so concerned about making everyone around him happy. His main focus was to try his best to make everything better by trying to help the problem the only way he knew how. That kid had a heart of pure gold. Right that moment I wanted to scoop that little boy up and hug him tightly and tell him how much I loved him, but then I looked over at my mom who was still staring at me. I couldn’t let her see me breaking down, not now.. So instead I did something awful and heartless…
I looked down at my nephew standing next to me and coldly rolled my eyes. “Oh WHATEVER! That’s so stupid!” I hissed down at him. I remember he just looked up at me with a big confused look on his face and then quietly watched as I turned around and stomped back into my room, slammed my door loudly and turned up my music loud. Not more than a few minutes later there was a knock my door. It was Brian…
“Can I please come in Aunt Stacey?”
“NO! GO AWAY!”
*deafening silence on the other end of my door* Then….
“Damnit! Leave me alone! Go away! GO AWAY”
I think he stood out there for a few more minutes until he finally walked away. I had my ear pressed to the door listening to see if he was still there and eventually I heard nothing. Faintly I could hear my mom telling Brian that he didn’t do anything wrong. That I was having a temper tantrum and it was nobody’s fault but my own. She was absolutely right…
That night I laid in my bed buried in my covers and cried my eyes out. To have treated my littlest ally that way was totally and utterly wrong. All I could think about was what he had said about offering to sell his things to make our lives easier for a new baby. He cared so much about me, and about my well being. Of everyone under my roof, this little guy always had my back.. and I had treated him horribly. I cried all night and woke up the next morning nervous to face him for breakfast. What would I say? How would I apologize for being a heartless bitch to this little boy who just wanted to help. But when I got up to go get some cereal, he was sitting at the kitchen table watching his cartoons. He looked up at me with a smile and just said “Oh! Good morning Aunt Stacey!” as if nothing had happened. The backpack full of things, including his beloved stuffed rabbit still sat in a pile on the floor where he had left it the night before.
Brian and I never talked about that day, at least I purposely never mentioned it again. Just the thought that I had treated him that way still hurts me to this day. After that day though, I saw him in a different light. He was smarter than the average kid. His mom had raised him to have a big heart and to put others first. He was always excited to come home after kindergarten to tell us all about what he learned that day. Good manners, always saying please, thank you and excuse me and always helping around the house with chores. He reveled in doing the right thing and made sure that we were all doing the same. It was also his influence that helped lessen the tension between me and my mom, we both realized that if a little 5 year old boy can act more mature than us, then we had a lot to learn about our relationship. It didn’t make the quarrels that we had over my boyfriend… but we never fought that way ever ever again. We worked on a better way to communicate,
I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for Brian and thank my sister for bringing him into the world. I love that kid to the moon and back… Thank you, Brian..