Magnet School

Shortly before the turn of the millennium my grandmother had a stroke and couldn’t live alone anymore. She lived in Virginia, as did three of her children. One other child lived in North Carolina. We lived in South Carolina.

No one wanted to take care of her, really. Not more than stop in, sit on her bed and hold her hand. Neither did anyone want to chip in for a nurse. I don’t know how much her insurance would cover or for how long, but I do know that moving her out of her home probably would have killed her.

So finally my mom decided it would be us. We packed up and took over Nana’s second floor and my mom became her around the clock nurse while my sister and I took up at a new school.

I had always been in gifted programs and clubs and known to my teacher’s as exceptional. Every quarter I won some sort of good student award. Moving kind of threw all that off. For the first time in my short little life I didn’t make honor roll.

I was devastated. At nine, it didn’t occur to me that I was having trouble because my Nana was sick, my mother was busy, I was at a new school in the middle of the year and in a new state. To me, I was just a big failure. Moreover, I shortly learned there was an alternative school nearby – a gifted school. Why wasn’t I in that school? I was in the gifted program before. Would I do better there? But I was a failure at this school. So I’d be a failure there, too.

It’s not easy being a kid.

Especially one who bases their entire self-worth on their academic successes.

By the time fifth grade came around, things had settled out. I was back on the honor roll. My nana was doing well. I had made friends. It was around then that my teacher nominated me to apply to the local magnet middle school for gifted children.

My wounded pride from the previous year saw an opportunity for redemption.

I took the test.

And then kind of forgot about it because who can remember anything past a week?

Then one morning, during bathroom break, my teacher pulled me out of line and said, “Rita, I have great news. You’ve been accepted into the magnet school. Congratulations.”

And I stared at her. Because despite my childhood giftedness I do not process quickly.

And then I screamed with glee – you would think I had just found out that I had gotten to the next round of American Idol.

Such a nerdy overreaction.

Especially since I would end up hating that school.
via Daily Prompt: Magnet


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