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Just about everyone knows someone who has been bullied, in ways big and small. Understandably, though, many victims are reluctant to speak about their experiences. We found some who aren't.
By Nicole Zakrzewski, Palm Harbor University High
I’m a soccer mom in training. I’m a few levels away from ordering a skinny latte from Starbucks while driving through in a minivan fully loaded with television screens in the headrests, but I’m getting close.
I am a part-time nanny to a family of five, yes, five children, the oldest being 10 and the youngest 4. When I first began the job, their father advised, “This is the best form of birth control on the market.” And three years into this regular gig, I have indeed thought about waiting — a really long time — to have my own family.
Certainly they’re a handful, but I love these kids to death. I’ve been part of their lives since 2005 when I moved down the street from them, now a family of four girls and a boy. Nearly every day after school, they are part of my life.
Unsurprisingly, the youngest, Anna, is the funniest. She looks just like the Olsen twins during their Full House career, and she can break-dance. Then there’s Keegan, 5, who has an affinity for cars. He loves how I have a real car, not just a Hot Wheels replica. Samantha (8) is the artistic one; as a second-grader, her drawings are better than mine, plus she has a better grasp of shading. Gracie (9) is the wild one, too clever for her own good. Plus, I didn’t know that it was possible for someone to love chocolate as much as she does.
Then there is the oldest, 10-year-old Lauren. Instinctively, she’s the leader of the pack who will sing in public at any given opportunity. Their dad is hilarious; you need to be to tolerate that many kids. And he always makes sure to shout “Go Gators!” Their mother is an angel, I swear she is. Having five children automatically elevates you to angel status (maybe even saint). These kids are lucky to have such a fantastic mother, and they know it. Best of all, while raising five children, she’s managing to get her degree in education. Both are supportive of my decision to go to UF, even if it means an end to this chapter with their family.
I also volunteer at the older children’s school, so I know each of their teachers and the names of their classmates, and I’ll occasionally chaperone field trips. I even drive the girls to soccer games for cheerleading, so naturally, the real soccer moms have gotten used to my presence. I’ve even been invited to their recipe exchange. Now not only do I have delectable Crock-Pot recipes, but I’ve also been unofficially initiated into the future Real Housewives of Tampa Bay.
I know that once I leave for college, I’ll become utterly depressed because I’ll miss them all so much. I’m the youngest of my family, so these kids keep me young. Proof? I know all the words to the theme song of Bubble Guppies.
Being part of this family has been incredibly rewarding. I’ve witnessed first bike rides without training wheels, seen way too many fake fashion shows and, best of all, watched each of them grow into their own personas.
My departure in a few months is a solemn subject; Lauren suggested a college education isn’t that important, and that I should stay home with them (tempting). Gracie pleaded for me not to “retire.”
Don’t worry, Gracie. I won’t be retiring. You can’t retire from family.