Jada threw her bag down onto the polished hard-wood floor as she walked in the front door. Jada’s mother, Anne, jumped into the hallway, hands up in front of her. Turning quickly, Jada hoped to be out of sight before her mother could start in on her.
“What the hell is your problem,” hollered Anne, running down the hall toward the stairs Jada had begun climbing. “Your attitude is driving me crazy!”
Muttering to herself, Jada ran up two stairs at a time, racing to her bedroom. Just as her mother reached the top, Jada ripped the door shut with a fierce slam. “GO AWAY,” Jada screamed at the closed door.
Anne opened the door wildly, “don’t you DARE walk in the house throwing things… slamming the door!” Anne threw one hand on her hips, the other waving frantically at Jada.
Her back to the door, Jada fell face down onto her bed. “Mother, go away. I don’t want to talk.”
Anne stepped toward Jada, shouting loudly, “I don’t really care what you want to do. You are not going to walk in here like that and expect me to do nothing. What is wrong with you?” Finally lowering her raised hand, Anne blew out a loud breath.
Jada whipped over onto her back, sitting with a jolt. “Not that you care, I just found out that there’s an ‘I hate Jada’ facebook page. I’m going to die!” Her face red, ears pounding, Jada threw her hands on top of her head.
Opening her mouth to speak, Anne paused then closed it. After a moment of silence, she said firmly, “That doesn’t give you the right to walk in here like that.”
Pulling her hands away, Jada squinted. “Did you hear me mother?” Shaking her head, Jada continued, “Some girls have it out for me and started a facebook page. I can’t go back into that school. My life is over.”
Standing quietly, Anne crossed her arms, “What did you do?”
Squinting harder until her eyes shut, Jada cried, “Are you kidding me?” Jada threw her arms over her stomach, “I can’t believe you just blamed me.”
“Well, there’s got to be a reason they did this,” Anne said matter-of-factly, shifting her weight over to her other leg.
Jada felt her anger get over-taken by sadness. Time slowed. Tears welling, Jada breathed many times before saying, “Mom, why…” Pausing, Jada looked down, putting her hands over her face. “Mom, why do you hate me?” As the last words rolled out, Jada felt a burning surge rise through her body. Her lungs felt like they were on fire as the heat moved into her throat.
Anne stared at Jada, blinking slowly, silently.
Their eyes met briefly before Jada looked down at her knees, which she could see through the holes in her denim pants. She started twirling the white frayed edges, sighing deeply as the tears continued. Feeling petrified to ask the question again, Jada felt whatever consequences came were worth hearing her mother’s answer. Inhaling slowly, she asked “Mom, do you hate me.”
Rolling her eyes, Anne said, “Don’t be ridiculous. Of course I don’t hate you. Whatever gave you that stupid idea?” Anne was making fists then letting them go.
Looking up at her mother, Jada whispered, “If you don’t hate me, then why aren’t you nice to me? Why don’t you care?” So fed up with everything in her life, Jada decided in that moment that she didn’t care what would happen after this point. She felt like committing emotional suicide; nothing to lose.
“Of course I’m nice to you. How dare you say that I don’t care!” Anne threw both hands back into the air, talking quickly, “I quit a job I loved, lived in a smaller house and sold my car just so I could stay home with you when you were little. You cried all the time… I was exhausted for YEARS! I did everything I could for you.” Anne’s body rigid, her eyes open widely as she continued, “How DARE you say I don’t care after everything I gave up for you.”
The tears stopped. Jada wished there was one person on earth who understood her; who cared. She didn’t know what to say to her mother. Staring at her mother’s cold eyes, Jada considered giving up and retreating. A part of her knew she had come this far today and really wanted to keep aim at her mom. Life at home with her parents was miserable ¾ she was prepared to go for it in the hopes it might change just a little bit. Sighing again, Jada spoke carefully, “Mom, honestly… I just don’t know what to do. You hardly smile at all. You and Dad don’t really spend any time together. And it just feels like you are on me all the time.” Returning to play with her jeans, Jada started chewing on her lip.
Moving abruptly, Anne stepped toward Jada, reaching down for the bed. Settling down beside her daughter, Anne looked at her own hands. “Jada, I don’t know what to say. I’m your mother; I’m not supposed to be talking to you about my life.”
Pursing her lips, Jada asked quietly, “Why not?”
Anne began spinning her wedding band around her slim fingers. “That’s just not the way it’s supposed to go.” Shaking her head slowly, Anne continued, “I’m supposed to be the one with all the answers.”
“Mom, you don’t need to have answers… you just need to listen.” Feeling somewhat hopeful, Jada continued cautiously, “Can I tell you what happened today?” Anne nodded. “I was in a bathroom stall and I over-heard some girls talking about the page. I freaked out and jumped through the door and grabbed one of their phones. There it was… I hate Jada… with 34 ‘likes’ on it.”
“I don’t really know what that means.”
“Oh, it’s just a thing on the computer that someone started. Then another 34 people saw it and clicked that they agreed too.”
Continuing to play with her ring, Anne took a long breath. “Do you know who did that?”
Nodding slowly, Jada said, “Ya. I’m pretty sure it was Katherine. She’s had it out for me since summer… but I’m not really sure why.” The heat in Jada’s throat was dissipating.
“Did you ask her?” Anne’s hand had moved from her ring down onto the bed beside Jada, her finger now flicking at the side of Jada’s leg.
Shivering slightly, Jada replied, “No mom, it’s not that easy. No one really talks… just texts, facebook. Stuff like that.” Reaching for her mother’s hand, Jada rested hers gently on top of Anne’s cold fingers. Jada looked up at her mother, “Mom, this is all I want. Just for you to listen.”
Anne tilted her head to look at her daughter. “Maybe none of us are really good at that around here.” Chuckling quietly, Anne continued, “You know what is so funny about this? The one thing I wanted more than anything from my mother was for her to listen to me. I used to try and try and finally I just gave up.” Jada squeezed her mother’s hand. “I guess I’m not that different, after all.”
Tears came back to Jada’s eyes. “You are different mom, you’re way different.”
Smiling, Anne turned her hand over inside her daughter’s hand, squeezing it tightly. “So, what are we going to do about this… Katherine-girl?”