So Much For No Child Left Behind

, , , , , | Related | May 19, 2020

In the late 1990s, my dad and step-mom decide to take a vacation to Mexico and take me. I am about seven or eight at the time and I am excited. I have barely ever been out of the state, and many kids at my school have gone overseas or to fancy destinations. I don’t have a passport, so my single mom takes the time to get one and update me on vaccinations, and also to give me my own spending money.

Fast-forward to the night she drops me off. My step-sister, who is ten years older than me, her boyfriend, and her best friend are also coming. They are not at the house, which I think is weird. My step-mom has to work until eleven, so I knew she wouldn’t be there.

Dad: “Okay, let’s get your stuff in the car.”

He starts loading everything.

Me: “Is everyone else’s stuff already in the car?”

Dad: “Sure is. Let’s go. We have to go by your grandma’s to drop something off.”

We drive about twenty minutes to his mother’s house. When we get there, he starts unloading my stuff. This upsets me a bit because I didn’t know the “something” we were dropping off was me!

Dad: “Okay, here is all of her stuff. We will be back in ten days. Her mom is out of town, too. She told me that I couldn’t take her, but she didn’t tell me until we had paid for everything. I appreciate this. I know it’s a hassle.”

I should make it clear that I am the oldest grandchild, but between her and my other grandmother, they constantly argue over who will have me. This is never a hassle for her. In fact, my grandma is acting like she hit the lottery. I seldom stay with her because she still works full-time and my grandfather isn’t a great babysitter because he has no rules.

I spend ten days at her house, in an area with no other children and with the same toys that have always been at her house. I’m bored, so I decide to take out my disposable camera and take pictures outside because we are in a rural area.

Me: “Grandma, I can’t find my camera. Have you seen it?”

Grandma: “Sweetie, why would you need a camera to come to stay with me?”  

Me: “Uh, it was for the beach?”

Grandma: “Sweetie, your dad said he told you weeks ago you couldn’t go. Maybe your mom decided not to pack it.”

Me: “No, she definitely did. I didn’t know I wasn’t going until I go here.”

Grandma: “Maybe you just forgot. Well, we can call your mom and ask— Oh, wait, didn’t she go out of town?”

Me: “Yeah, she went with her sister somewhere.”

Cue my grandma calling my mom’s house, getting no answer, and then calling my aunt’s, where she also gets no answer. I never do find my camera, and strangely, when we go to the store, I notice my tiny wallet is empty of my seventy dollars worth of spending money. My ten days are boring and bleak.

Right on schedule, my dad retrieves me and takes me back to his house. I notice that the little girl my step-sister babysits and takes nearly everywhere is at his house and is sunburned. I find out they took her.

Dad: “Okay, your mom will be here tomorrow after dinner. I just talked to her. There’s some serious traffic in North Carolina. She will get back too late to pick you up tonight.”

I pout in my room, wondering what I did to be left out. When my mom picks me up the next day, I have a bad attitude and won’t tell anyone goodbye. My step-mom is confused, and my step-sister and her boyfriend seem somewhat concerned. My dad decides to lie to my mom on the spot.

Dad: “She’s mad because I won’t let her prance around here in her new swimsuit all day long and do whatever she wants.”

My mom accepts this, but I am not giving in. I won’t talk to her, thinking she is in on it. When we get home and unpack, I find that my camera film has been developed and is in an album. Most of the pictures are of the water and beach, not of anyone on the trip. I also find a hideous green bathing suit with tags attached that is not mine. None of my money is anywhere. I go running to my mom.

Me: “I didn’t take these. Daddy took them! And my money is missing!”

Mom: “Well, did you lose it? And you know he likes cameras. Maybe he was just trying to help.”

I am fed up. I am tired of being punished for no reason.

Me: “Mom, I didn’t go on the trip! He took me to Grandma’s as soon as you were out of sight! I’m not sunburned. I always sunburn no matter what. He took [Little Girl my step-sister babysits], not me!”

My mom calls and my dad is adamant that I went and I am lying. Curious, she calls my grandma, who says my dad told her that my mom refused to let me go that far. My dad then changes the story to say I was so sick he was afraid to take me.

My mom doesn’t buy it and calls my step-mom, who tells her that my dad fed her the same line about me not being allowed to go.

When the dust settles, my dad admits he was mad at me for not agreeing to come live with him so he wouldn’t have to pay child support anymore.

Mom: “I should have known that he would do this. If he had told the truth, you could have come with me. I went to Six Flags with your aunt and cousins because I thought you were going to have fun!”

Surprisingly, she still made me visit with him. After that, things were better, and I was never left behind again.

1 Thumbs
359