Of the dozen kids left, there is one student who is always in my bunch. So much so that her mom's number is now programmed into my phone, I guess you could call it the VIP treatment- it saves us both time for me to just hand my blue grenade over to have her make the call. Without fail, Melody will dial, then hang up and chirp that it went straight to voicemail. I'm not quite sure why we continue trying but it's hard to break a habit. Four o'clock will come around and it's just me and her sitting on the bench (or running copies) waiting for her mom to come around.
As we wait, Melody will eagerly talk about her day or things going on at home. During one of these conversations she let it drop that mom works at the Olive Garden. Keep in mind that by this time, I am starved. Sometimes lunch is a fleeting idea I never come around to or a few bites of a sandwich before duty calls. The OG was mentioned, it made an impression. So much so that it became a running joke between Melody and I that for everyday she was late being picked up, she owed me an OG meal. The moment her mom's car would pull up, we'd say our goodbyes with my parting shout, "I expect some fresh bread sticks tomorrow missy!" or "don't forget: I love the minestrone!" to which she'd laugh and wave off.
I never expected her to take me seriously until Friday afternoon she ran back into the school with a giant OG bag filled with salad and bread sticks for Ms. G!
I, of course, went crazy with excitement- but the thrilled theatrics were only for Melody's benefit because the gesture cemented the reality of this child's situation for me. This is a single mom of three working full time to provide for her family, trying to rush from one place to the other and she went out of her way to try and alleviate my selfish impatience. Staying after school with Melody has been completely altered because the bag of food reminded me that the childhood I was given is one of a kind and not one to be taken for granted. So, to all those single moms out there: hats off to you.
I don't have an actual picture of Melody (HISD has me paranoid) but here's a small peek into her fashion. A boring uniform will not stop her from jazzing things up. A girl after my heart!