by Charmain Carrol
When I found out I was pregnant I had two feelings at the same time. I smiled because I was somehow happy while tears were running down my face because I was afraid.
I feared the disappointment. Disappointment in my mother’s face because she always spoke so highly of me. Feared disappointing my family. Feared growing up. Feared being a mother, because I didn’t know how to be one. I hadn’t been taught how to be one yet. But most of all I feared disappointing myself.
I was only 18 years old when I was pregnant with her. Today my daughter is 17 years old and we always had an open door policy, we talk about everything I mean everything, so we know what is happening in both of our lives. I can leave for 3 weeks and I will find everything still in order, house not on fire.
You know the scary things us parents fear when we leave the house under a child’s supervision.
My daughter has not given me any problems with boys, make up, girls, parties, drinking and drugs and I’m so ever grateful for that.
Today I find myself profusely cleaning the house because for once I’ve run out of words. Words to say to my daughter. On Monday I got a call from her school stating that she has not been at school for a week. The shock of my life, I was lost for words, words to reply, all I could say I’ will come through on Thursday because I’m on a 3 day editing course.’
Now what was I to say to her without getting angry and giving her a beating, as everyone keeps telling me, because I don’t hide the fact that corporal punishment in my house is still practiced. As old as she is she still gets a hiding.
When did the communication break down start?
When did the open door policy close between us?
I asked her why was she not going to school?
She says she has been, she just did not spend the whole day at school, she left school premises with friends and went to do drama activities in Springs or sat in the park.
So my 2nd question was: did you think I wouldn’t find out or you didn’t care about me finding out?
My 3rd question: since you made a choice to bunk school what are your plans because you are going to be expelled?
I don’t have any plans.
My response: Well since you made all these choices without consulting me, this is how it is going to go. You are in Grade 11 so this means you only have a Grade 10, people with diplomas and degrees are sitting at home jobless.
This is what you need to do go find a job. I won’t be supporting you no more.
We need to share the rent, food and electricity for the next 4 months. After that period you will be 18 and you can leave my house. If wena (you) have decided to be an adult then you can be one.
I saw tears rolling down her face. I then went straight to bed.
I cried for the whole night. I cried because I had to be cold as ice when I said all of that.
She is my life. She is the reason I keep going.
Got up in the morning she woke me up and said mah you can go bath now I’m done. On our way to school I ask her why am I going to school?
What do you want me to say?
Her response: Please ask the principal to give me a chance, I can’t bear to see the disappointment in your face and please don’t give up on me mah.
I wish there was a training course or a manual to this parenting life. I wish I had someone to pass this responsibility too. But I can’t. That’s what being a single parent means.
Everything you do is done by you, and you alone.
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