As the youngest of three girls, it’s hard to really stand out. I mean, Leila is super smart. Her genius butt got her a scholarship at Harvard. Now she’s living the life there and making her parents super proud, getting all straight A’s and stuff. She’s the oldest by the way.
Then there’s Bodhi. The athletic one. Tall as a three store warehouse. So I guess it won’t surprise you if I tell you she’s a champion in basketball. My dad wouldn’t miss a game for the world. Even if the basement is flooded, which actually happened by the way.
Then there’s me. Nothing-special-Kayla. More or less the only one of our family who isn’t particularly good at something. Except for all the things they don’t like to do, like
- putting the trash out
- walking the dog
- unloading the dishwasher…
It’s all I’m good for. Can you tell why I very much resonate with Cinderella?
‘Cause, my sisters are drenched in compliments EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. And not just solely directed at them personally. No, my parents want to make sure that I hear and know everything and all there is about how amazing Leila is. How superduper proud they are of her.
Or how sportive and healthy and such-a-team-player Bodhi is–I would LOVE to throw that basketball in her face for once. But yeah, the only thing I ever hear from my parents is:
“KAYLA GET READY!”
“KAYLA GET YOUR STUFF!”
“KAYLA I’M NOT YOUR MAID. CLEAN UP YOUR MESS!”
As if the only way they can speak to me is by yelling.
Most days, when I’m at home, I’m just sitting in my room, all by myself, thinking of what my life could be like when I didn’t have any parents. But then I guess; probably not much different. I would have to do the cooking and laundry myself, and even though there wouldn’t be any yelling, it would be pretty tough and lonely. That’s why I’ve decided to not run away.
And it ended up good that I didn’t. Because the most amazing thing happened!
That most amazing thing that happened…
It was just another miserable day when I packed my bag and headed out for school. I wasn’t even 5 steps away from our door before my mom yelled after me–again.
I forgot my lunch.
As I walked back to grab it from her hands she didn’t hide on her face how disappointed she was in me.
And with a big sigh she said, “You’re gonna be late. I’ll drop you off at school.”
I didn’t want to embarrass her even more so I said thanks. She grabbed her car keys and without another word, I placed myself in the car seat besides her.
And that’s when it happened.
When my life suddenly changed drastically.
I don’t know how it happened…
I don’t know exactly what happened.
I don’t even know what I was thinking when it happened.
All I know is that I wasn’t texting on my phone–which I normally do.
Or checking TikTok.
Or playing a game.
Not playing a game. But I guess she was texting Dad, or something.
And as she was typing, and driving–at the same time, mind you–our car swerved to the left. Just slightly. But it was enough to alarm the truck driver on the other side of the road. He honked. Flashed his lights. All within seconds. But that didn’t seem to completely come through with Mom. Or at least, too late.
Yet, not for me.
As fast as I could, I pulled the steering wheel to the right. Probably an instinct. A pretty, terrible one. I made us drive right into a trash bin…
Gosh, I thought, my life’s over.
Mom’s gonna freak the heck out. “What were you thinking?! You have no driver’s license! Pulling my steering wheel like that. Making us crash! Do you know what this is gonna cost?!”
But she didn’t.
She looked at me as if she had just seen a ghost.
Or the most terrifying film ever.
Or… I don’t know, just the utmost horror was all over her face.
Then, in a split second, she threw herself toward me, wrapped her arms around me and started crying. Asking me questions like, “are you okay?”, “do you feel any pain?”, and “are you alright?”
And then–this struck me most–she said: “I’m so sorry!”
“What?” is all I could say.
“I’m so sorry, honey.”
No yelling. No reproaches.
“What for?” The second thing I was able to say.
Mom grabbed me by the shoulders. “Kayla, you just saved our lives. That truck could have killed us. I could have killed us. My gosh, Kayla I’m so sorry.”
She repeated this over and over. Patted me on my back. Hugged me. Brushed my cheeks.
It took a while but then I realized… She was right!
It’s true. I actually saved our lives. Mom’s life!
The truck driver came over to see if we were alright. People started interfering, calling an ambulance. The police arrived at the scene. And it made me feel even better. I was a hero. And all these people were able to see that. Now my parents couldn’t deny me anymore. Here I was: Kayla the lifesaver!
Even the local newspaper dropped by and one of their reporters started to ask questions. Not just about what happened but about who I was and what I did in daily life.
Mom was just standing by my side, smiling and confirming all my words. Adding to them that “she was so proud of me”.
That night, we were sitting at the dining table, eating my favorite dish. And my parents just could not stop talking about my mature actions. My responsible behavior. They even emphasized to my sisters that they could learn from me. They ranted about how it had become normal to always be available. To text whenever. Call whenever. But that it had to stop! And that I was completely aware of that. That’s how I saved our lives. By being mindful. And present. And smart.
Yes, they explicitly said “smart”.
I became the smartest. The favorite.
In fact, months later they still call me the most responsible one.
I can tell it bugs my sisters. I guess we’re square now.
Somehow I expected that being the favorite would feel better. Or that it’s bothering my sisters would feel satisfying.
But it doesn’t.
Why exactly? I don’t know.
I guess revenge isn’t sweet.
I guess division in family can only be hurtful to one another.
But you know what is sweet… That I was the one who was able to save Mom’s life 🙂
Copyright by Jane Trapman