That day when Evan got home, he pulled me into his room. I was still wearing a grin when he closed the door. “Suspended on your first day?” Evan hissed at me. I nodded. “What’s wrong with you? Dad isn’t very happy with you right now.”
“Don’t smile! Dad is giving you three strikes, and you know what happens then?!” Evan said in a hushed voice. I shook my head. Evan was starting to scare me. “He’s going to send you to one of those troubled youths centres!” He said, a little too loudly. I frowned. This wasn’t what I was expecting. I sat down on his bed. Evan heaved a sigh.
“You’ve got to be on your best behaviour.” Evan said. His words stuck, alright. I held back as many outburst of anger or sarcasm that I could at school. But I didn’t make any friends. Not that I was surprised. After the first day, people probably spent their time avoiding the bad association. I would roam the hallways at lunch time, until I found out that the library was open at lunch. It was relatively empty.
Miss Karen was always there too, which was nice. She was a volunteer teacher and she was young; about mid-twenties. She had chocolate coloured skin and her hair was always in a dark braid. But that’s not why I liked her. She was the only person that said hi and smiled at me when I walked by.
I spent the whole of eighth grade in the library at lunch time, practicing piano with my fingers on the table. That also didn’t help my image. One day, Miss Karen sat down next to me. “Can you play piano?” She asked. I nodded. I remember that because on that same day when I got home, my Dad made me cover my eyes and he helped me into my room.
When I opened my eyes, a keyboard stood across from me. I smiled widely. My Nan has a piano. We lived really close to her in London, so I always practiced at her house. I turned around and hugged my Dad tightly. “It’s your present for being so good this year.” He said.
I turned back to the keyboard, and spent the afternoon peeling off the thin layers of plastic still stuck to the keys. I pulled over a comfy chair, and sat down. I played for at least three hours. It was four o’clock when I got home, and Dad called me down for dinner at seven. I sighed because I knew that the keyboard could be very temporary. After all, it was the end of the year and my Dad had to go in for parent teacher interviews in just a week.
My grades were pretty bad. Okay, they were horrible. I was barely passing all of the classes, and I was pretty sure I was failing Math. The next day, I had the guts to tap on Miss Karen’s shoulder at lunch. “Would you be able to help me with my homework?” I asked. Miss Karen smiled and took a seat. I opened my binder and worksheets poured out. Miss Karen picked one up. “Abbey… This was due two months ago.” She said. “I know, but I thought if I get these handed in, I might pass.” I stuttered. Miss Karen shook her head at the pile of worksheets. “Alright, let’s begin.” I tried to concentrate, but I couldn’t. As usual, I found my mind wandering. It was impossible to teach me! Miss Karen must have picked up on that, though, because after lunch, she said to me, “I’ll see you tomorrow!”
When I came back the next day, Miss Karen had all sorts of things at the table. There were games and flash cards. “I decided you need a different method of learning.” She said. We played games, and whenever I figured something out, he would write down the answer on my worksheet. It took twice as long to do work, but I was still doing it.
On the day of the parent teacher interviews, I didn’t really pay attention as the other teachers told my Dad that I was doing alright, not good, not horrible. All I wanted to know was that I passed. When we finally got to Ms. Walsh’s class, I forced myself not to smile when she told my Dad that I had gotten 51%. I knew that was horrible, but I also knew that I had passed. My Dad frowned as Ms. Walsh continued talking in her boring voice to him.
I stopped tapping my feet when I heard Ms. Walsh’s voice get a little louder. “The problem isn’t the teaching, Mr. Manello. The problem is that your daughter can’t concentrate. I looked over at my Dad. He whispered to me to go and sit over at a desk. I could still hear them though. They weren’t very good at whispering it turned out.
“Surely she just needs a little more discipline, or attention. Maybe Math just isn’t her strong suit.” I heard my Dad say. “No, Mr. Manello. You aren’t hearing me. Abbey CAN’T concentrate.” Uh oh. I thought. I’ve heard this conversation before. When I was nine, I listened at my parent’s bedroom door. My Mum said to him that she thought something was wrong with me. My Dad was trying to argue with her. “I think she has ADHD.” My Mum explained.
My Dad got angry and said, “Leila, people use ADHD to explain why their kid is being a brat. I’m not going to excuse her behaviour. What she needs is more discipline; we’re too easy on her.”
I looked down at my tapping feet and tried to block out whatever my Dad’s reply was.