The Kids They Parented on Weekends

February 5th, 2016, 2pm

My best friend, MH, and I spent every weekend together when we were young. The only time we strayed from our routine was in the unfortunate occurrence of illness. From the ages of 8 to 14, I would phone MH’s house, her phone number being one of the three I have memorized, on Friday, with high hopes to sleep there that night. Often, these overnight excursions would free me from the chaotic mess of people I grew up with.

My home life was quite toxic in my childhood. Abuse of many forms resided in every house we lived in. I remember tears, pain, fighting, and abandonment. My weekends of freedom saved me from continuing that cycle of abuse. I would show up, with my little brother, on MH’s doorstep at 6pm, occasionally unfed or unwashed; often fearing divulging any information about my home life, though I’m sure MH’s mum had an inkling that something was happening.

MH opened the door, and I was, almost instantly, happy. Through the winter, we would go sledding, or build forts and snowmen in her yard. The summer was our busy season, and we would swim, go biking, go to the Mac’s down the street from her house for Ice Cream, go play at the park, or do crafts in the house. These activities fed me a healthy helping of what childhood is supposed to look like. I can, quite confidently say, that I am a who I am because of MH and her family.

MH’s mother, SH, taught me how to knit, and was patient with me when I struggled. She took my little brother and I out of the house when my parents were separating. Every day, I am thankful for the kindness she offered me. The contrast between SH and my mother was quite near black and white. When I wanted to talk to my own mother, the likely result was her screaming for my father and saying something along the lines of “A, get her away from me!”, which broke my heart every time I heard it. SH, however, was always happy to listen to me talk, even if I wasn’t really saying anything.

MH’s father scraped me off side walks, cleaned me up after unfortunate accidents, and was stern with me when I needed it. MH and I recently recalled being chased around the house by him when we were young; the two of us giggling madly. He snuck up behind us, and scooped the two of us up, we both screeched and laughed. That memory is one that I see in slow motion, appreciating every moment; the simplicity behind how easily one can instill happiness in a child.

Every Saturday morning, I would wake up earlier than everyone else, sneak down to the kitchen, and make coffee for both of her parents. I wanted to make them happy, as they gave me so much, and I didn’t have much to return. MH and I were inseparable, and I felt I had the sister I hoped for so badly. We had a falling out within the first month or two of starting high school. My mother told me I wasn’t allowed to see her again, and I listened. I regret listening to her. My brain, infected with traumatic memories, told me that I had to love my mother, and I craved her love in return. I tried really hard to earn my mother’s affection; a child doesn’t earn the love of a parent, that love is supposed to be unconditional.

I saw MH at my graduation banquet. May 17th 2013; My 18th birthday. I sat at the table with JP and his family; both of his parents ignoring my existence. My sister sat at the table with us, though she didn’t want to be there. I was heartbroken, as my parents decided not to attend. This moment is marked in my memory as the day I learned that “We love you!” wasn’t enough; actions speak louder than words, and I was tired of talking. Wading through a sea of disappointment, mixed with the depression I had been recently diagnosed with, I saw a little glimmer of hope. In a blue dress, walking though this banquet ceremony, I saw my best friend. MH and I hadn’t spoken for 4 years, and fear took over my body; She hated me, I was sure. Seeing her there was extremely unexpected, as she and I attended separate high schools, but I was so happy to see one familiar face. I don’t think she saw me, but I was glad she was there.

On my first day of University, I felt quite isolated. I no longer spoke to my parents, and had been legally disassociated from them. I didn’t have many friends, but I was beginning my first step into the life I longed to have; another influence granted to me from MH’s parents. I admired that her parents were educated, and that we shared similar values. Coming down the steps from the Murray building, I heard a familiar voice pipe up “Victoria??”. From there, the rest was history, and we picked up where we had left off. I missed her more than she would know.

In August of 2015, I revisited her home. Walking through the front door, I was greeted with the happiness I felt as a child. My worries were left behind me, and I was home again. So much time spent peeking around door frames as children; early mornings parked in front of television sets, and late nights curled up with ice cream and movies. It felt as if I were 11 years old, showing up on their doorstep with hopes of warm hugs, and a sense of belonging that I didn’t receive from the parents of my own.

Mariah, David Wade and Terra said thanks.

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Victoria Wells

I love writing, photography, painting, singing, drawing, and if it involves being creative, then probably that too.

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