SHE’S AN AWKWARD GIRL
Since moving to Success Park, Mom was finally treating me like a human being again.
That was until she went to a New Year’s Eve party with Nick and saw Roberto there with another girl. Now we’re right back where we started with Mom accusing me of ruining her life.
It’s been a blessing having Mere Germaine back living with us, and I love Success Park, but I wish Mom would get over Roberto.
I also wish I could see Yolanda and Steve because I miss them like crazy. But Mem says that part of our life is over, so I don’t think I’ll ever see them again.
If I wanted to, I could easily walk to Steve’s Market and Father Panik after school and see both of them, and Mem wouldn’t have a clue.
But if Mem says that part of our life is over, I need to respect her wishes. The last thing I need is for Mem to be mad at me as well.
Nick is still hanging in there, but knowing Mom loves someone else can’t be easy for him. I know she’s trying, but Mom isn’t interested in Nick. And Mom seeing Roberto on New Year’s Eve didn’t help things with Nick at all.
I don’t blame Mom for being mad at me. I’d be mad at me, too. But the way I see it, I’m not sure Mom will ever forgive me. I’m not sure Mom even likes me.
Last night, I heard Mom say to Mem, “She’s an awkward girl.” “She needs to grow into herself, that’s all,” replied Mem.
Telling Mem I’m awkward is Mom’s new thing. Maybe that’s her way of getting back at me, although I know Mom doesn’t think I’m much to look at.
I looked up the word “awkward” in the dictionary, and the definition hurt me badly.
In the wrong direction, lacking skill, turned the wrong way, causing embarrassment—that’s what the dictionary said.
Is that what I am to Mom—an embarrassment? Or is she saying mean things because she’s still mad at me?
I once heard her tell Nick on the telephone that I’m awkward and need help in the looks department. Of course, I don’t know what he said, but it must have been something about me being shy because Mom answered, “No, she’s not shy. Not even close. She’s got a big mouth. You haven’t seen that side of her yet. She’s mouthy, she’s lanky, and she’s awkward.”
My dark, frizzy hair is pretty awful—I’ll be the first to admit it. And my nose is bigger than I would like. And okay, my skin is darker than any of my friends, except for Yolanda, because, of course, her skin is black.
Mem says that as I get older, my nose will fit nicely on my face, but I don’t think I’ll ever grow into myself like she keeps telling me.
Mere Germaine thought she was making me feel better by telling me that I have a “Roman” nose, whatever that means. Yeah, “roamin” all over my face!
Mom’s probably right—I’m awkward. But I still don’t think it’s nice to say hurtful things about me. So, to get even with her, I told Mem about Mom’s conversation with Nick about me being awkward and needing help in the looks department.
I milked it for all it was worth and told Mem I could do nothing about being ugly. I knew she felt sorry for me because she gave me a long, tight hug. Then she reminded me about the ugly duckling.
“The ugly duckling wasn’t a duck at all—it turned out to be a swan—a beautiful, graceful swan. And all the ducks were jealous. You’re a swan, my little Tony. I see it right here in your face—and in those serious dark eyes of yours. And soon enough, everyone will see you as the swan that you are.”
I thought hard about what she said. “What are you thinking, mon petit choux?” Mem asked. “Why doesn’t Mom see that I’m a swan?” I reluctantly asked.
“I see. That’s all that matters,” Mem replied. “Now you wipe those tears away, d’accord?”
Later that night, Mem had a huge fight with Mom about her calling me awkward. Mom was angry that I was snooping on her and Nick. “She’s a tattle tale and a little snitch. That’s what she gets for putting her nose where it doesn’t belong.”
Mem’s mouth was hanging open, but at least Mom didn’t say my big nose!
“You’re her mother, for Christ’s sake,” Mem screamed out. And then she sucked in a great big breath because she had used God’s name in vain. She took her rosary beads from her housedress pocket and ran out of the kitchen and up into our bedroom.
I gave Mem a few minutes, and then I went upstairs, where she was on her knees praying next to our bed. “Holy Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.”
She motioned for me to kneel beside her so we could pray together. Mem prayed out loud and asked God to forgive her for losing her temper.
I prayed silently and asked God to make my nose smaller and turn me into a swan as soon as conveniently possible.