“You’re almost an adult now,” Caroline was admonishing Farrah as I walked into the kitchen to get yoghurt. “You’ve got to make time for your studies as well as your job. I know you want money but your studies come first. Ask your father for money.”
“Then ask Mel for help,” Caroline said glancing over at me. “Mel, you’re good at math.”
“W-e-ell,” I stuttered. “Yes. But Farrah’s good too. She’ll figure it out.”
“You’d better get it figured out soon,” Caroline told her. “I don’t have time to deal with these letters. Why doesn’t they just give you detention? That’s what they did when I was in school.”
Farrah and I shared a quick glance.
“They don’t give detention when someone hasn’t finished their homework,” Farrah told her mother.
“They should,” Caroline replied. “Why do I pay taxes if they don’t do their jobs?”
My eye brows lifted. I pulled them down before Caroline saw them.
“You have to fix this,” Caroline told Farrah, “or you’ll have to give up your job.”
Farrah emitted a little squeal, “That’s so not fair,” she said. “I get straight A’s in nearly every subject and I’m getting a B+ in math.”
“I mean it,” Caroline said. “I don’t want letters from your school. I have enough to do.”
Farrah and I traded another glance.
“I have to do things I don’t want,” Caroline continued. “I want to go out for a drink after work or to a gallery but I come home to make dinner.” She turned to me, “I’m sure Mel makes herself do things she doesn’t want to do.”
Does she know what she’s saying to her daughter? I mutely inquired of my Friend. She’s keeps telling her that she doesn’t want to care for them.
“Mel, you have to do things you don’t want to, don’t you?” Caroline prodded.
My eyebrows raised again; I pulled them back into place. “There’s not much I do that I don’t want to do,” I replied. “And I don’t know what that has to do with anything.” I looked into Farrah’s eyes, “You want to do your math, true?”
“Yes,” Farrah nodded. “I just forget.”
“I suffer from that disease,” I said. “I’ve been learning to live with myself.”
Farrah’s forehead ruffled.
“I don’t use direct deposit anymore because I realized I’m better if I hold the cash in my hands,” I said. “Direct deposit gives me a number and it’s not real. With cash I see the amount I have for bills and expenses and the amount I can use for whatever I like.”
Farrah’s head was still ruffled.
“The cash tells me I have fifty dollars to spend on books,” I explained. “Otherwise, I’d spend two hundred dollars and have to eat ramen until I got paid again.”
“That won’t help Farrah,” Caroline said. “She should just give up her job and get money from her father.”
“I don’t want to ask him for money,” Farrah told her. “I can earn my own money.”
“What if you do your math first?” I suggested. “Then it’ll be out of the way.” My head tilted on one side, I perused Farrah for a moment. “You’ll read no matter what,” I said.
“Maybe” she nodded.
“That’ll just make some other subject a problem,” Caroline interjected.
I shrugged. “All I know is by learning to live with myself rather than remake myself, life is a lot easier. I get the things done I need to do and, thus far, haven’t stopped doing the things I was already doing.”
“Adults don’t do it that way,” Caroline insisted. “Adults make themselves what do adult things.”
My face felt hot. I took a deep breath and shrugged one shoulder, “Then I’m not an adult.” The heat in my face lessened. “Forcing myself never worked. I’d still forget. Learning to live with myself just works better. It works. It’s practical.”