I never did make a basket during that season, but boy, did I practice! Our team was undefeated and we also won the county-wide tournament. It was great to be part of a winning team. Things were going better at home too. In January, Dad decided to start his own consulting business. He bought a new computer with a credit card, applied for a business name, and started advertising. Soon, he had enough work from several companies to keep him busy for a while. Mom didn’t look nearly as stressed now that she had more than just Dad’s unemployment check to help her pay the bills.
After basketball ended, I was anxious to try another sport and Mom suggested softball. I was assigned to an Oquirrh team and I played in the outfield. I had been on a County Rec baseball team before, but this was different. It was very competitive and my coach didn’t seem interested in teaching me to compete with those girls who’d played since they were two. I swear, one girl played like she’d been born with the mitt on her hand! It was fun, but I didn’t get to play very much.
I think Mom knew I was upset about not getting to play. Worse than that, I just didn’t seem to be making any friends on my team. The girls in my neighborhood weren’t that friendly either. School was OK, but I still didn’t have even one close friend. Sometimes the girls at school even said mean things about me when they didn’t think I could hear them. Then they would laugh like they just told the funniest joke in the world.
I didn’t tell anyone about those girls, and it was pretty easy to hurry straight to the third grade hall so that I could walk home with Neal after school. I guess Mom finally figured it out, because one morning during breakfast she asked me right out, “Kira, how’s the friend thing? You haven’t had anyone over since your birthday party.”
I stared at my bowl of corn flakes. I really didn’t want to tell her the truth, but I figured she would get it out of me sooner or later, so I took a deep breath, “Not so good, actually.”
Mom stopped spooning Cheerios into Nathan’s mouth. “What do you mean?” she asked. “You had all those girls at your party.”
I swallowed hard, “I know, Mom. But they don’t seem to like me anymore,” I said in a small voice.
“Did you have a fight?”
My eyes filled with tears that I carefully wiped on my sleeve before I looked up at Mom. “No. I think they were just nice to me because they wanted to come to my party,” I answered. Mom didn’t seem surprised. She started feeding Nathan again.
“I’ve got an idea,” she finally said. “Why don’t we look for a Girl Scout troop for you?” She smiled. “I’m sure they have troops in this area.”
Now that was a good idea! I had been in Brownie Scouts in our old neighborhood. It was fun, but then Mom got pregnant with Nathan and we had to quit. Mom was one of our leaders, but then she got sick and had to stay in bed for a while, so after cookie sales, we just kind of stopped having meetings. “Would you be the leader?” I asked Mom.
She thought for a moment, “You know that I would like to be the leader, but how about if we wait until next year to start our own troop? For now, why don’t we just see if we can find a troop for the rest of the year?” She smiled.
“OK,” I said. “Call today, so I can start right away.”
“You know,” Mom said. “I think Kinsey is old enough for a Daisy troop. Do you think she’d like scouts too?” Kinsey always had to do everything I did, but I guess I wouldn’t mind so much. We wouldn’t be in the same troop. We probably wouldn’t even meet on the same day.
Boy, was I wrong! Our troops did meet on the same day and in the same place. We met at a Methodist church in West Jordan. It was a little strange at first. I’d never been in a Methodist church before, but we got used to it after a while. It was much smaller than our church and all of the scout meetings were held on Monday nights. They had troops for all of the levels in the same place, but the Juniors were in a different room from the Daisy girls. My leader was kind of weird. She didn’t really want to work on patches or anything. She just seemed to like to spend time with the girls. I was kind of glad when we only met with that troop for about two months.
As it turned out, Mom didn’t sign up to be my scout leader for the next year because she was playing volleyball at our church when she hurt her knee bad enough that she had to have surgery. She went to the hospital while we were at school. Dad went with her and Grandma came to stay with Nathan and Kiyna. Mom’s surgery was over by the time we got home, but she was way too sick to see us. Even when she came home the next day, she just kept throwing up.
Mom was very cranky. I was glad to leave the house every day to go to school. When I came home, she would be lying on the couch in the same place. She had a leg brace that ran from the top of her thigh to her ankle. She couldn’t even go to the bathroom without help. She had crutches, but she couldn’t use them very well. She had stitches down the front of her leg and I had to rub her knee around the stitches to keep her skin from scarring. And she always needed something; a drink of water, her scissors, a book, some crackers. The list went on and on.
I tried to hide in my room when I got home from school so that she would ask someone else to help her, but she always wanted me to come anyway. Dad said that it was because I was the oldest and Mom knew I was responsible. I ended up baby-sitting Nathan and Kiyna because Dad had some big thing going on at work. For a few days our neighbors brought us meals, but after that, I even had to cook supper for all the kids.
After a week or so, Mom started going to physical therapy, but she couldn’t drive herself, so Dad or Grandma had to take her there. Dad had gotten a new job in October, so he couldn’t get off all that much, and Grandma only stayed for a couple of weeks. The worst part about Mom not being able to drive was that we couldn’t get where we needed to go either. I had piano lessons and early morning band. We couldn’t go to the grocery store or Wal-Mart. I hated being stuck at home. There were times when I just had to get out of the house. It was November, but it was still pretty warm, so sometimes, I’d climb out the window in Mom and Dad’s room and just sit on the roof. I even took a book out there a couple of times, just to get away from everything.
Christmas came again. We couldn’t do much because Mom was still using the crutches. The doctor told her that she was going to be fine, but I thought he was crazy. It looked to me like she would probably limp forever.
By March, I’d had enough. I was tired of being Mom’s slave and tired of baby-sitting and tired of school and jobs and homework. Mom got pregnant after her surgery. It wasn’t that I didn’t want another brother or sister. It was just that Mom usually got cranky when she was pregnant and with the knee, things just went from bad to worse.