It’s early in the morning and the kids – or am I even allowed to call our 17-years-old kids? – are still asleep. Reggie is not and it’s totally my and my constant need’s to clear my throat fault. I’m sort of getting adjusted to having a sore throat than never gets healed, but it’s been a bummer not to be able to book new concerts. I’m preparing pancakes, subtly wheezing and hoping that Candy and Reggie, who appears to be focused on his newspaper, constantly shifting it closer and farther away from his eyes, do not say anything.
“I told you to put on glasses when you’re trying read,” I tell Reggie, ever so surprised at how differently my voice sounds, barely audible and hardly comprehensible. I look down on my pancake, pretending that nothing has happened. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. That’d be pathetic, to try to make a victim out of yourself. I can tell Reggie’s frowning, even though I can’t see him.
“Your voice is still weird. That was supposed to normalize after a few weeks or so. You haven’t even been singing in the shower, which you’ve always loved,” he notices, ignoring my remark about his deteriorating sight.
“Reggie is right,” Candy interjects. “You should make an appointment with a doctor. That’s not normal. Neither is your current weight.” With a sigh, I put the pancake on a plate and turn around to face my husband and friend.
“I’m not going to any doctor. There’s no need to. It’s just a sore throat is all. They’d just laugh at me for wasting their time,” I protest, though I know I do not sound convincing at all with how quiet my voice is. It is not hard to tell that I’m struggling to get the words out. I fight the urge to touch my throat. There’s so much I didn’t tell to anyone in fear that they’d worry. I don’t want to trouble my family. Besides, it could be worse… right?
“There is a need, Hailey. You’re still a young woman, not an old prick like me. You should be as right as rain and not standing here, barely able to argue with us. The doctors might help you. Perform a surgery or so. I know you miss singing,” he says, reaching out to stroke my cheek. I smile despite myself.
“We’re worried about you,” Candy says. “Hey, let me make a phone call, so you don’t have to. We all know you need that visit. You know it, too, and you can’t deny it.” I look at them, moved by how caring they are. A lump in my throat is worse than usual, as I struggle to respond, finally giving up and letting them take charge.
“Th-thank you. For everything…”
Yes, this is basically how my life’s been going recently. With everyone trying to get me to finally see a doctor until I eventually broke down and agreed. It’s true that I’ve been postponing it for way too long. I’m really afraid of this visit, let me tell you. I’ve been staying at home, doing everything that was supposed to help my voice recover and nothing seems to be helping. Not milk and honey, not resting, not even warm, bubble baths. I even tried to decrease the amount of speaking I am forced to do during the day. Everything to no avail. If there was even any change, it would be the one for the worse.
I can’t complain too much, though. I am proud to be a mother of two wonderful kids and one who is not my kid but feels like it. I decided not to count Clinton as my kid a long time ago, but I am pleased to say he and my kids are close friends. It is a bit ironic how he and Ron often call themselves bros.
Speaking of Ron, it is wonderful and heart-warming for a mother to see how much progress he’s made in the fight with his, now officially diagnosed, dyslexia. It’s heart-breaking to see how many teachers or parents still refuse to believe in the existence of this disease. I’ve been the one who helped Ron to practice his spelling when he experienced troubles. Now he does it by himself. I once accidentally discovered a notebook in which he performed his spelling exercises. I know that the disease bothers him a lot. As a perfectionist, Ron would want to be on the same, or even higher, level as the other kids. Dyslexia and lack of orientation when left alone are not his fault and I feel sincerely sorry for him. He’s such a bright boy, dyslexia or not. And very hard-working, too. I can surely say that he has to be the most athletic boy in his class. He loves exercising, physical or mental alike.
Becca is such a happy presence in our house. She’s determined and full of happiness, getting excited each time she wins another award in many competitions she takes part in. She’s almost like Ron’s guide, always there for him, so he doesn’t get lost. Everything comes to her so easily. She can often be found in her room listening to music and daydreaming, and studies only when she prepares for another competition, but it involves barely flicking through her books. It is believed she has photographic memory which makes studying so easy for her. I am sure that Grandma would surely compare her intelligence to Rosie’s (who is not with us anymore now, as well, which was a huge blow for me, too). Recently, though, Becca has been different and more distant, I’m not sure why. Eventually, she came to me and Reggie and asked our permission to get a tattoo done. We were surprised, but Becca seemed very determined to convince us, so we eventually agreed.
She ended up with a pink rose on her left ankle.
Shari and Becca are very close, but also very different. Candy’s daughter is really artistic and she can be found doing various sketches on the drafting table in her room, which is very, very green (she says green helps her creative process) and certainly most extravagant of the kids’ rooms. Shari loves posting her comics online and she’s quite popular there, too. She’s also the only who has decided on her future studies. Shari is set on studying fine arts and becoming an artist. I am worried that she isn’t so determined to get good grades as she is on her drawings, but Candy is not anxious. She says she has never been very good at school either. Again, I am reminded of how childish Candy can get.
This woman is my peer and she has Shari’s old toy box in her room and can often be found playing with toys.
As I’ve said, Clinton has never felt and will never truly feel like my kid, but it doesn’t mean I don’t get to interact with him at all, especially as I and Frank have been close friends for such a long time now. Clinton is now 20 and he’s already dropped out of many various universities. Waylon often blames it on the fact that my laziness somehow reached out to his son. It feels much better to spend time with just Frank and Clint. Somehow, I feel like I and Waylon will never truly get along. I guess we’re just too different, the love for Frank being the only thing we have in common. I remember that I once got to use the karaoke machine with Frank while Clinton was watching us.
It felt like we were those kids singing in the choir in those simpler times when Grandpa was still alive and we were both just two innocent kids… Gosh, how long has it been since we did that? It can’t be more than a few years since Clint was still a teen, but I can’t remember the last time I could sing without difficulty. I wish I could bring those happy times back, bring Grandpa back, bring my singing back, or bring my sweet, little innocent kids back… Life used to be so simple.
I know what the title says. It sounds like a reference to my kids growing up, but, in reality, it’s not at all about my kids. This chapter is really just a bitter confession of a woman who wishes she could turn back time. Who mourns her vocal abilities, which she doubts could ever be brought back.
And it’s not even a metaphor, although you might think it is. This is my diary, so I’m not going to lie here. At least here. The truth is I am suffering. Not mentally, but physically.
I am tired of the constant need to clear out my throat, which used to be just subtle glasses of water during my concerts, but then turned into a severe sore throat. I am fed up with not even being able to properly scold my teenagers when they do something wrong. And I hate the fact that I can no longer use my voice to oppose in arguments. I am practically helpless and I haven’t even lost it completely. Yet. I also hate the fact that I have to pretend I’m not feeling like I’m feeling. I know that the people closest to me can see through mine I’m fine‘s, but even if they do, they do not understand the depth of my pain. I will not let them to, because knowing my suffering would break them. It takes out all my energy to keep up the facade of a temporary vocal injury to my kids, so as not to trouble them. Then I drop onto my bed in the evening and I cry so silently for Reggie not to hear. Maybe he does, but he never says anything. He knows me. He knows me so well and he knows that speaking about it makes it feel more real. That when he speaks about it, my pain gets so big I could well choke on my tears and die. Or maybe he doesn’t know. Maybe he just sleeps. Maybe he makes use of his ability to sleep that I no longer own. Do I even own my body anymore? It feels as if it lived its own life now, because I do everything that I can to keep it healthy and it just doesn’t listen. All it does is make the pain stronger. Each day it gets worse. I clench my teeth and try not to think about it. About the fact that it’s not my kids who experience growing pains. It’s me who experiences them. Pains growing stronger by each day. Growing pains.
Literally growing pains.
Note: I know, I know, so depressing. Well, I had to remind some of you which story it is that you’re reading. And so you all, prepare for it to only get even darker. But I am not here today to talk about the darkness of this chapter. I’m going to share some extras. So, everyone ages up in this chapter, including Hailey and gosh, have you seen her?
I honestly think she looks better as an adult than she did as a young adult, when she had that polished, Barbie doll face which annoyed me to no end, though it might just be me. Fun fact: her current hairstyle is similar to my real life one.
Also, I will share some bloopers. You can see some of the things that transpired in my game on the bloopers page here.
I will leave you with a little comparison.
Even if I mentioned in my gender bend post that I wouldn’t mind if Hailey had a son looking like her, I am so relieved that Rebecca and Ron resemble Reggie more than they do Hailey. I just don’t like her and am definitely really tired of seeing her face.