When I was five, we had a disabled girl in my kindergarten class. I believe she suffered from M.S., or maybe she had had polio, or some combination of things. I remember she had a hearing aid and poor motor control, though. She got special attention, of course, but they wanted to make sure she was a part of the class with the rest of us. They did this, naturally, but constantly pointing out what she'd done, and how fantastic it was that she was normal. I was a pretty straightforward kid, so I paid attention. I was always fascinated by the different, anyhow. So I'd come home from school every day, and talk about what she'd done and how cool it was that she could do all this no matter how she'd been born. One day, my parents looked at each other and said, "Sounds like someone's got a girlfriend." Well, I did at the time, but it wasn't that girl.
A part of me that was interested and sharing died that day. I realized all the words I'd been saying to my parents had slid off like raindrops on the hood of a speeding car. One moment can change everything, in the life of a child. From time to time, I consider telling my parents about something I saw, heard, or thought, but I always think back to Maria.
It's all a joke. I don't open myself to my folks anymore because I'm not interested in being vulnerable to them. I choose my friends carefully based on how they react to that slight tone change in my voice that I am being serious beyond serious. And I strain so hard to hear it from my friends. They're rare; I can't afford to lose them, too.