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Be Kind, and Don’t Hang Out with Jerks

By Julianna Kubilis 

My life right now is so interesting. I’m in kindergarten, and I love school. I love everything about school except for waking up early and having to find the motivation to get to school. On this sunny morning, I walk out the front door to find my mom in the driver’s seat of our baby blue Plymouth Horizon, waiting on me as usual. My little sister is in the back seat, oblivious to everything, except for the way her thumb fits so perfectly in her two-year-old mouth. I hurry down the steps of our trailer and trot my way to the car to hop in the back seat and quickly shut the door. My mom looks at me in the rearview mirror with one eyebrow raised, telling me without words, that I need to get my act together in the mornings because she is sick of my snail’s pace of getting ready for school. I can read her eyebrows even better than I can read my Berenstein Bears books. The things my mom’s eyebrows can say would blow your mind.

I really love this blue car. My grandpa bought the car for my mom, from my grandma’s parents, because they didn’t want the car anymore. I don’t know why they didn’t want this car anymore, it was so glorious. The car is just as blue as the sky, and the view out the huge rear window is amazing. I love watching the people behind us driving their cars, talking with each other, waving at me with their big finger (whatever that means), and flick little things out of their windows. Riding in this car is fun.

Our car backs down our short driveway into the street they call Longfellow. We stop, and then back up some more. We stop again, and my mom starts pulling at the metal stick that is by her leg, as hard as she can, slapping it, telling the stick that this was not funny. Why is she talking to the stick that moves the car? Why are we not going? I look out the back window to see if anything is going to run into us. Thankfully, the street is clear as far away as I can see. The streets in our trailer park were nice and straight and hardly ever busy. Cats felt free to walk them lazily, and kids felt safe to cross them without looking.

The metal stick is still not moving. The button on the stick is going in, but even though my mom is using both her hands to pull the stick towards her, the stick will not move.

“Screw it,” she says, as she throws her right arm around the seat next to her, shimmies her hips in her seat and stares out the back of the car through that big window and hits the gas.

I can feel my eyes get big as my body is flung forward. My mom is driving our blue car backwards, very quickly.

“I guess this is just how you’re getting to school now. In reverse. How fun!”  

My mom smiled but she didn’t see as happy as she usually does when she’s smiling. My sister, sucking her pruney thumb, looked at me with her big brown eyes, and those eyes of hers were filled with questions. Questions like, “What are we doing?” and “Why is everything in front of me getting smaller?” and “Why does my thumb taste so good?”

We whipped around a corner, my mom’s face looked worried for a split second, but then out of nowhere, she was immediately brave again, like she had just done something that was hard, really well. I guess making the corner without running into someone’s car or through someone’s yard is quite the accomplishment. Yay, mom! She was proud of herself at this point, her eyes were squinting, her teeth biting at the corner of her lip, her one eyebrow arched as if she knew something that we didn’t.

My mom drove us backwards through the trailer park, all the way to where the trailer park road met the main road they called Ten Mile. Ten Mile was a real road, with real people and real cars that ran over the real cats who were trying to cross the street. Kids did not walk down this road. This was a serious road, and driving down this road backwards was going to take some serious skill. My mom had tons of skills, and driving a little car in reverse was one of them. She only had to go a couple of blocks down Ten Mile to get me to my school. My mom could do that, because my mom can do anything. My mom waited for a second at the stop sign and then made her move.

We got pulled onto Ten Mile, rear end first. We weren’t on Ten Mile for more than a couple of seconds before someone honked at us. I looked around to see who was honking, but couldn’t find them. I decided the best course of action was just to wave at everyone, that way they wouldn’t have to honk to get my attention. I started waving to the guys in the truck that I could see in front of me, and I waved at the old lady I saw next to me. My sister started waving too, mainly to my mom, but I think my mom really appreciated that we were being so polite.

“Thank goodness we live so close.”

My mom was looking a little nervous. Did she not like driving this way? Going backwards the whole way to school had been quite fun for my sister and I. Surely this was an adventure for her too. The closer we got to my elementary school, the more relaxed my mom’s face was. Instead of dropping me off by the door, she pulled into a parking space.

“Please God, just make this stupid thing go forward!”

My mom put both hands on the stick with the button, grunted, and then roared like a baby lion, and the stick went forward!

“Yes! Yes! We did it! Oh my word, I can’t believe we did it!”

My mom was so happy. She put her hands up in the air, wiggled her butt in her seat and played the drums on the thin, blue steering wheel. My little sister even pulled her thumb out of her mouth to cheer for my mom’s victory. Our celebration lasted just for a moment before I was reminded that I had to go off to school.

“Get out, get your stuff. We need to get in there so I can call your grandpa and tell him what a fun morning we had.”

I knew she had liked driving backwards! Who wouldn’t? As we walked through the big glass doors of my school, my mom put her hand on my head and told me the same thing that she had told me every other morning before I went off to school.

“I love you. Have a good day. Be kind, and don’t hang out with jerks.”

My day had started out very backwards, but my mom single-handedly spun my day around, and I was now back on track, heading in the right direction. That is what mothers do; they take the crazy in life and they make it seem fun and normal.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Be kind and don’t hang out with jerks.