I wake up to the sound of my little brother, Carson, screaming. I plug my ears with my pillow, trying to block out the noise, but it doesn’t help.
“No, Daddy, no!” Carson laughs. Laughs. That’s something I’d sure like to do.
You see, ever since Carson was born, my parents really haven’t paid attention to me. All they care about is whether Carson is crying or not, or whether my older brother, Parker, is happy. As for me… well… it just doesn’t seem like anybody cares.
The next thing I hear is Parker yelling, “Hey, Mom! Do you know where my cell phone charger went? I can’t seem to find it! And I know I didn’t take it out of my room!”
Well if it’s in your room, then of course you can’t find it, I think to myself. Parker’s room looks just like a normal thirteen-year-old boy’s room would look: dirty clothes scattered all over the floor, bed unmade, light always on whether the room is being used or not.
“Oh, you can’t find it?” my mom replies, with an edge of concern to her voice. “Here, let me help you find it.”
Wow, if I ever lost my cell phone charger, I don’t think my mom would help me look for it. She’d just tell me that I better find it or I don’t get my phone.
I rest my head on my pillow, getting angrier and more depressed every second that goes by.
Why don’t my parents care about me? Ever since Carson was born, I’ve never heard them say, “Hey, Lillian, how was your day?” or “Lillian, are you feeling all right?” or “Here, let me help you.”
I wish Carson didn’t exist. He’s only four, so I know he might get a little bit out of control, but this is way out of control. Carson breaks just about everything he touches, he yells and screams, and he takes up just about all of my parents’ time. They use the rest of their leftover energy on Parker.
Now Parker. Parker’s usually pretty nice to me, but if you were looking at him through my perspective, it would probably just seem like he’s trying to take all the attention that I’m supposed to get.
“Lillian?” my mom pokes her head into my room, pulling her dark, auburn hair behind her ear. “Can you come downstairs? It’s time for breakfast.”
“Yeah, one minute,” I mumble. My mom leaves, without even smiling or saying good morning or anything.
I want to run up to her and beg and plead for her to wrap her arms around me, to tell me that she loves me. But that seems so far away from where I am right now. The thought makes me mad.
Suddenly, I feel like I can’t stand it anymore. I can’t bear it any longer. I am going to change things today. I am going to make a difference in this family. And I won’t rest until I reach my goal.
* * *
Breakfast seems worse than it usually is, even though nothing is abnormal, on a typical Saturday at my house. Everybody seems so happy except for me. I feel so out of place.
I take a few bites of toast and then dump the rest in the garbage.
“Hey, Lillian?” my mom says, and I turn around to see a surprising look of concern and possibly anxiety in her deep brown eyes. “You not hungry today?”
“Well,” I sigh, my stomach churning for some odd reason. This was my chance to talk to my mom—and my dad—and tell her how I really felt inside. But I don’t want to say it in front of everybody. I take a deep breath anyway and say, “Well, I just… I just wanted to talk to you and Dad for a few minutes.”
“OK,” she replies, sounding suddenly cheerful. A spark of hope lights up in my head. “Just let me finish my breakfast here, and then meet us in the living room.”
“OK,” I say excitedly, and try to walk into the living room and sit on the couch, but it’s hard. I can’t believe it! My parents are actually going to listen to me! It’s hard to believe that just a few minutes ago I was so angry and depressed. Now, I feel energetic and happy, and I feel like I am actually going to make a difference in my life.
I smile to myself.
My mom and dad walk in a few minutes later. They each take a seat in a chair.
“So,” my mom says, “what would you like to say to us, honey?”
“Well,” I begin, thinking how I should word my feeling of rejection to them. “Ever since Carson was born, I have kind of felt you don’t care about me.”
I pause, and my mom nods, taking in the information. She nods at me to go on.
“It seems like you only care about Carson and Parker, and when Parker lost his charger and you offered to help him find it, it just made me mad because if I lost my charger, I knew you wouldn’t help me look for it.”
My parents both nod thoughtfully. I even think I see tears welling up in my mother’s eyes.
It feels good to say all this to them, it really does. They’re listening to me, I know they are. And best of all, I know they care.
“Oh, honey, I’m so sorry you felt that way,” my mom says, and sniffles a little. A tear falls down her pale cheek. I want to cry, too, but I can’t seem to do it. “I wish you would have told us a long time ago, though.”
“Yeah,” my dad chimes in for the first time, and part of me wonders why he hadn’t said anything the whole time, while another part of me is just happy that he cares. “We don’t want you to feel neglected or hurt when you shouldn’t.”
I can’t help but smile. I’m surprised I haven’t burst into tears of happiness and run over to them and squeezed them both like I would never let go. I feel so… happy… so alive. It’s like a dream come true!
By now, my mom is crying.
“Lillian, come here,” she says. I feel a tear fall down my cheek, too. I half jog, half walk over to my mother. She wraps her arms around me and hugs me tight. I want to yell in happiness.
“Lillian, I love you,” she whispers.