If you advise your children to walk away from bullies and not stand their ground, this portion is not for you. Check back for more portions this week.
The house was quiet when I arrived, almost too quiet for my liking or understanding. I walked through in search of my little ones, knowing that it meant trouble when I couldn’t hear them –none of them. Every room I checked was empty, baffling me something serious.
I circled almost the entire lower level, ending up in the kitchen where I’d started. One of my babies, the biggest baby, was the only one to be found. I watched from afar as she emerged from the freezer with the large tub of ice cream in her hands. Her long, weary face caught me off guard, breaking my heart into pieces.
Springing into action, I hurried to the clean dish rack and pulled out two bowls. If my baby was sad, she wasn’t going to be sad alone. We’d ride this shit out together. I didn’t give a damn how late we stayed up. Neither of us was going to bed until that frown was turned upward and those big cheeks I loved were trying to touch her eyes.
“Essence, what’s the matter, my baby?”
“God,” she gasped, “Dad, you scared me.”
She was growing like wildfire and I wanted nothing more than for her to slow down. Next year, she'd be headed to middle school. I wasn't ready.
“My bad. Didn’t mean to sneak up on you.”
I handed her both bowls and a scooper to make separating the ice cream easier.
“It’s okay,” she sighed. “Thanks.”
I grabbed a seat at the island and observed every move she made. They were slow and exaggerated, and each one she made seemed to sadden her a little more.
“You want to answer my question? What’s the matter?”
She plopped the scooper on top of the ice cream and dropped her shoulders. Despair was written all over her body. I ached for her.
“Talk to me, Essence. If you don’t tell me, I can’t help.”
“I know. I tried waiting on Mom to finish getting everyone ready for bed but she fell asleep herself trying to get Lucas down.”
“I’m sorry that happened, but I’m here, now.”
“I know. I waited on you.”
Her statement wasn’t surprising at all, but it wasn’t expected. Not at the moment. I assumed whatever was on her mind was keeping her awake. Besides, it wasn’t very late, either. Ever had gotten everyone down early and I couldn’t wait to thank her for it when I made it upstairs and bent her over, half asleep and all.
“So, are you going to keep me waiting now or are you going to tell me what’s the matter?”
“There’s this girl at school who has been mes–”
“Beat her ass, Essence. That’s the only solution. Beat her ass and I bet you’ll feel better. Beat her ass and I bet you she’ll never look your way again. Beat her ass and I promise no one else will come after her because they’ll know not to fuck with you.”
My nostrils flared to the point of pain. To discover my daughter’s gentleness was being taken advantage of had me boiling.
“Beat her ass.”
Point. Blank. There was no need to beat around the bush. Suddenly, I was relieved that Ever had gone to bed early. This was a conversation meant for me.
“Well, I just wanted permission.”
Though I smiled inside, momentarily, I was still raging.
“Listen, baby, you’ll never need permission to stand up for yourself. I know you, Essence, and you’re not a troublemaker. And, that... that is what makes you an easy target. People will always try girls like you, your mother, your aunt Baisleigh, and anyone who has that essence you guys possess. While I think it’s the most beautiful thing in the world, others will prey on it and some will test it. Help them to understand you’re not to be fucked with, baby girl. And, if you’re not feeling it, then give me a name. I’ll go beat her dad’s ass and every male close to her.”
“Dad, I don’t think we need to take things that far.”
“What did she do to you?”
“For the past few months, she’s been picking on me, calling herself bullying me when I’m just not interested in lending my energy for her foolishness. She’s taken things too far. Today, she pulled my hair when I was walking down the hall, which caused me to jerk backward and end up falling. I was upset, like really upset. Nothing she’s ever done has really made me upset, but today did. I wanted to punch her.”
From hearing the turmoil in her voice, I knew my sweet Essence was ready to come unglued. I didn’t blame her. She stayed to herself, focused on her school work, and tried her hardest to stay active in sports. She didn’t fuck with a soul and was almost as quiet as a mouse. That’s why someone figured she’d be an easy mark.
“So, why didn’t you?”
“I thought I’d get in trouble.”
“I don’t know. The school. Mom. You.” She shrugged.
“Let me handle the school if it comes down to it. But, defending yourself will never get you in trouble here. Don't let anyone trouble you and you not give them hell. If anyone has something to say about that, tell them to come see your daddy. I'm always ready.”
“Don’t share this with your mother. She’ll tell you to go to the administrators or try to resolve it some other way. Violence! Aight? It’s the only way to solve it. She chose this route, not you. If she tries that shit again, show her what being an Eisenberg is all about, baby girl.”
This small portion and the ones to follow (this week) are just to say thanks. Be sure to order Baisleigh, releasing 4-27. Pre-order available on this very website. Check back all week for more mini portions of moments in the Eisenberg households that I don't usually talk about in books or have space for in my head when writing them.