Today’s Prompt: A Character building experience – Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?
Two years ago I met Phil. Then Jorden (his son) also about two years ago, but this last year is when I met Zenah. Actually I had met her briefly at Thanksgiving in 2013, however, we didn’t spend time together until I moved to Florida when we were thrown together, like it or not.
Zenah is Philip’s daughter. Philip is my boyfriend. Me, Philip Zenah and Jorden all live together, you know, like a family. They would be considered step children if we were married but since we are not, I refer to them as my children if I absolutely don’t know the person I’m talking to, my step children if there’s a little acquaintance with the other person, otherwise I just use their names, Zenah and Jorden. They refer to me as their dad’s girlfriend.
So about Zenah. Phil and I moved to Florida May 26, 2014. We had a couple of weeks together alone in our new house getting settled before he had to go back up north to drive Jorden down from Pennsylvania. Zenah already lived in another part of Florida but still had a couple of weeks of school to finish before she could come to the new house. I will always remember that even though her dad went up north she still came to visit with just me the very first chance she had. No stranger-danger there. We spent the whole weekend together. Just the two of us. She wanted to get to know me. She was up for anything.
The first thing we did was go eat at the beach at sunset and then we walked on the beach. Eating, walking and watching sunset on the beach has subsequently become the way we welcome all our visitors. We also went to a movie that weekend (The Fault in our Stars) and shared an Icee (my first one); we went to a neighborhood street fair where she bought something for her new room; we sat with our feet in the pool and talked and talked. We became fast friends. We became fast friends because she was open to it. She was then and has always been very welcoming and accepting of me in her life.
Zenah is a pretty little thing. Sixteen years old, a size 4 ish, about 5’4. She has beautiful dark hair that is long and curly. In this past year I’ve already seen her mature. Sometimes when she gets extra dressed up for an event it brings tears to my eyes. You’d think I’d known her forever. She loves getting dressed up, at least I think she does. Never having a daughter before I have not experienced shopping with a girl. Girls take a long time trying on clothes. I know I’m a girl too, but I usually grab stuff and take it home, and then take it back when it doesn’t fit. Being a size 4 it’s easy to look cute in just about anything, and she does. It’s fun to see her get dressed up and go to parties or banquets or whatever. One event that she went to this past year she was able to wear her mother’s earrings and use one of her mother’s purse. That seemed like an extra special night (her mother is deceased). It is hard not to get caught up in her enthusiasm and feel the sadness when she knows her mom is not there to see her.
I typically pick Zenah up after school. It’s about one mile from our house. When she throws herself in the car I ask how her day was. Since she’s so smart I rarely understand what she’s talking about, at least when it has to do with school work, and when she’s done filling me in she’ll ask about my day. We talk about everything. Sometimes after we get home we sit in the car for another 30 minutes and keep talking. We talk as if we’ve known each other our whole lives. But since we haven’t known each other our whole lives, there’s more to discover and talk about.
Sometimes we don’t feel like talking at all. You know 16-year-old girls can be very moody. So can 56-year-old girls. Not talking seems just as comfortable as talking.
Zenah is an amazing young lady. She is very intelligent, interested in the sciences, a math and chemistry whiz, she plays guitar, ukulele, and piano. My sister and I were playing duets on the piano the other day and she sat down and sang with us. When there is a gathering of family she has no qualms about bringing out her guitar and playing for us. She’s in drama club at school, key club, national honors science something society (I can’t keep up). She does volunteer work, she’s in the Girl Scouts, she completed a Dale Carnegie course, and this year she decided to start playing Lacrosse. She is the most motivated child I’ve ever met. If she wants to learn something she attacks it with her entire being. Just like getting to know me, she was all in.
Oh did I mention that her dad and I moved her from her childhood school, where she had attended for 9 years and made her go to a new school? She begged and pleaded with him but he stuck to his guns. Once she finally accepted it she cried a few days and I watched her pull herself up (figuratively like by the bootstraps) and accept it. She then made a plan to use her Dale Carnegie skills to meet people. She now has many friends at both schools!
Zenah is starting to be interested in boys. This is something I am familiar with. I am NOT familiar with being first in my class, Chemistry or Physics. I am hoping that the boy interest doesn’t get out of control. Getting out of control is also something I am familiar with. I am hoping we can go back to the “boys have cooties” stage until she’s safely graduated from college.
Zenah is also now learning to drive. She’s a good driver but we have found out that she likes to drive fast. We took the family on a go-kart outing. She came in second place and, well, I decided we should buy a slow car. We actually did purchase a new car after that. She was really attached to the old car (a Nissan Altima) and I wanted her to like the new car (a Mercedes, an old one). The first few days we had the new car she acted like she didn’t want anything to do with it. So I made her drive it. The first day she drove the new car she was very quiet. She was concentrating (and nervous) but when I looked over at her she had this smile on her face and I knew she was hooked. Then after she figured out that memory seat thing we were both screaming (it’s so cool). Unfortunately the new car is fast.
I think this is where I should say that her parents did a great job. But to be perfectly honest I believe Zenah is who she is because she has had to do a lot on her own. Not that she hasn’t had some good people in her life but I feel that it is “she” who has made the very smart choices in her 16 years and has chosen to stay upbeat and positive. She is often met with disappointment, not to mention losing her mother when she was 12 years old and has been shuffled around a bit, but amazingly she carries herself onward, and in my opinion, always upward. She is remarkable.
Zenah always tells me how grateful she is to have me in her life. I’m not as good as she is with sharing my feelings with her. I think I’m afraid I’ll scare her. I feel like I don’t deserve to say “I’m proud of you” or have the right to get teary when she looks so beautiful or look at her and think “our little girl is growing up” but I assure you I feel all those things. I am super proud to be part of her life in any way I can. I love going to her Lacrosse games and being an obnoxious parental figure when appropriate and I’m super sad when I’m not there for an event. I will never forgive myself for missing her Lacrosse banquet this past weekend. She deserved to have me there beaming with pride. She deserves a good life. Everyone deserves a good life, she just deserves it a little more than most.