What I imagine my daughter to look like.
For what seems to have been a few months, I have had a new phone number. And for what seems to have been a few months, I have been receiving - almost weekly - an automated message from Elmwood Junior High School in Rogers, Arkansas, that tells me that my daughter has been skipping school. This automated message is a tattle-tale of sorts, acting as a digital truancy officer that seems only able to operate a phone to alert parents that their children were absent for one or more classes for the day. Once, I received a phone call from the nurse at the junior high in regards to my daughter, and I told her that it was the wrong phone number. Alas, those weekly phone calls keep coming.
That's nice, but I don't have a daughter, and I don't live in Rogers, Arkansas. I live in Savannah, and I'm twenty-six, which would mean that, had I been a parent to this mystery daughter, I would have been at most fourteen years old when I had her, which would make her twelve and very brave to skip classes.
This causes concern. What the hell is a twelve-year-old girl doing skipping school? In my weird, somewhat depraved, creative mind, I imagined what my "daughter" was doing. I decided to name her Barbara, too.
Barbara doesn't skip school to smoke cigarettes at pool halls with guys named Steve or Kevin, she wanders off into the Ozark Mountains and battles rogue sasquatches and lives off the land, making shoes out of snakes' skins and wears a cloak made of deer hide. She calls her self Skipping Stone, because in her grandiose thinking, she believes she is descended from Native Americans. But Barbara doesn't just defend the quiet, introverted people of Rogers, Arkansas from rogue sasquatches - she also distills moonshine (the finest moonshine in the mountains, she professes). This isn't just regular moonshine, either. Having named it Bobby Newton is the Cutest Boy in my Geology Class Moonshine, Barbara makes sure to put extra, high potent doses of glitter and perfume into every ounce of that white lightning. And she dyes it pink, so that everyone who buys it knows that it has been blessed by the Unicorn Gods of Sprinkletown.
That, or she cooks meth. Being a native of Missouri, I'm aware of the epidemic of meth and religion that encapsulates the very large, engraved, brass belt buckle of The Bible Belt, and I bet Barbara loves Jesus so much that she wants his invisible bugs to crawl all over her body while she stays up all night watching The 700 Club and other Evangelical television shows. Jesus is in the ice, Barbara. You keep chasing that dragon to Heaven.
Putting warped humor aside, the next time I get this phone call, I think I'm going to call the school and tell them the situation. I'm also going to tell them to call DFACS if this girl is skipping school so much. Clearly, there's a problem at home, and that should be addressed. For the sake of the child, talk to her while she's in school and help her fix what is probably not her fault. It could be her parents, someone at school, or that she's depressed. It doesn't matter; there's a problem, and calling the wrong number over and over isn't going to help.