And I was the only eight-year-old who didn’t have an adult at the bus stop.
The first time I had to go to the bus stop in the rain, I got soaked. After that, whenever it rained I’d wait on my front porch. I could see the bus stop from there and when the bus pulled up, I’d run as fast as I could to catch it. I missed it once. I stumbled and fell and tore a hole in my jeans and cut my knee. That day, Mom found an umbrella at Goodwill.
“Got you an umbrella good as new,” Mom told me when I stumbled in the door. She pointed to the kitchen counter.
I gulped. “But it’s pink. No way am I carrying a pink umbrella. Everyone will make fun of me.”
“Listen here, Will,” said Mom, shaking her finger. “It was the only one they had. A pink umbrella is better than no umbrella.”
I knew better than to argue. Later, in my room, I took a permanent black marker and drew designs all over it. I figured if I disguised it, maybe no one would notice. I was wrong.
“Hey Moron,” gorilla Nate from the next street over said the next day on the bus.
I clenched my teeth. “My name’s Moran.”
“Well, you’re a moron for carrying a girl’s umbrella.” Everyone on the bus laughed.
That was the only time I used that umbrella. I decided that getting wet was better than getting laughed at.
I heard the other parents’ whispers and caught their pity-poor-Will glances. I don’t think they thought my mom was a good mom. She didn’t do things like volunteer to make cookies for PTO events or to help out in the classroom like they did. I never told Mom because I know it would hurt her feelings, but I wished that somehow she could be a normal mom. Like Krup’s or Fuzz’s. Their moms got them up in the morning and made them chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast and special birthday meals. Their moms didn’t make them help clean the house or help do the wash. Or make them stand in the rain with a pink umbrella at the bus stop.