By 8th grade she expected me to buy the majority of my wardrobe, beyond a few back to school items and perhaps some Christmas gifts. When I got a job at McDonald’s starting in middle school I had to walk three miles each way for the first month until I could afford to use my wages to buy a bicycle. No way was my mom giving me a ride or a bus pass. I had been prescribed eyeglasses at 9 but after losing my third pair at 12, she decided I was too irresponsible and I’ve gone without ever since. Of course, she never has. The very idea is preposterous.
My mother wanted to be middle class by then, but I wasn’t. She started buying organic food while I was scrimping on generics. She resented me for holding her back. She bought a motorcycle and started dating a long haired hippie who played bass guitar in a band. I caught them necking on the couch one night, and it horrified me. I didn’t want a stepfather and definitely not that vegetarian dweeb. He was the reason there was nothing but bee pollen and brewers yeast in the pantry.
I nearly flunked out of middle school. I was an avid non attendee and frequent patron at the internet cafe across the street from campus. If a new high school for the performing arts hadn’t been opening, with minimum GPA requirements, I might never have scramblked together at the end of the term enough to graduate. The promise of leaving my preppy classmates behind for musical theater lessons made school worth bothering with.
I’m sure my mom was disappointed by my bad grades and my lack of attendance. Perhaps she even punished me. I don’t remember her asking what was wrong, helping me with assignments, or noticing whether I went to school or not. I know no efforts were made to prevent my annual springtime slump in grade performance. I could see it coming but somehow she never did.
By high school she was officially checked out. I had my life and she had hers. When I was sixteen I moved in with a 20-something boyfriend, without her ever noticing. I would stop by her house for a few hours each afternoon to do chores and have her see me, then climb out my bedroom window, stroll down the block, and into my boyfriend’s waiting for to our place for the next twenty hours. She had no clue. She didn’t want one.