Author Amy Babineaux-Smith

The night I met Lana’s mother she told me to call her when her daughter was doing stupid things or was missing everything.

Lana * had a turbulent sixth. She was totally below grade level in all subjects, she was angry, clumsy and defensive.

She was a loner, and to receive attention she launched insults and pointed out the faults of others.

Lana was however a talented artist and she had a great passion: singing.

When the end-of-year show was announced, she has changed a bit. To participate, she worked harder and improved her behavior.

But just before the show, her glasses broke.

Lana stood on stage with twisted glasses, a dress that her mother had chosen and hated, and she sang so softly that the music hid her voice. Poorly educated students booed him.

The fifth was a big turning point. She lowered her guard, her self-esteem increased and she began to learn and make up for years of lost time. Her growth has been impressive.

She sang again at the talent show and was not booed. She received light applause and was disappointed, but not defeated.

When I think of Lana in the fourth, my heart jumps with joy and I smile involuntarily. She blossomed. She joined my tutoring group and ended up helping willing students. She passed her exams, came out of her awkward phase and became a frank young woman with empathy for the oppressed.

She began to confide in me about her mother, and I began to understand her challenges.

Her mother was stingy with affection and focused only on Lana’s faults. To compete with her five siblings, Lana behaved so as to attract her mother’s attention. Her mother wanted to control everything and the only way for her to allow Lana to participate in the talent show was to sing a song by a black artist. This year, it must have been Whitney Houston, but Lana wanted to sing a different song, a song she knew well and loved.

Lana inspired me and I decided to get involved in the talent show, so I became a coach and judge.

She auditioned with Selena’s “Dreaming of You”, a song of her choice. She sang very well and it was obvious that she really had a connection with the song.

Lana did not want to wear a “little girl” outfit chosen by her mother, so I brought my daughters’ dresses for her to try. She chose a fluid light blue dress that suited her perfectly and flared when she turned around. She was playing barefoot, as if she had woken up from a dream.

After the last rehearsal, the theater teacher said: “Lana has succeeded! She could win the contest this year.”

On the night of the competition, I was a proud and enthusiastic coach, and one of five judges. I staggered just before the curtain opened for his number. Amazingly, Lana was not here! “Where is she ?” I wondered aloud.

After a few minutes, I was handed a note saying: “Her mother did not want to drive in the rain.” There was hardly a little drizzle outside.

I was both angry and heartbroken, thinking how bad Lana must have been. During intermission, I called her mother and I pretended I did not know, “Is Lana okay?” She missed her performance. I even offered to pick them up and bring them home after the show because they only lived about half a mile from the school.

“She’s already changed to a night outfit.” the person said. “I’ll tell her you called, goodbye.”

The next day, Lana was in tears.

A few weeks later, there would be the awards ceremony, and I knew that Lana would be recognized for her incredible journey. I notified her mother well in advance and I reminded her of the ceremony the night before. “I’ll be there.” She promised.

Lana has received three awards, and her mother never came.

Many students would be upset, blame themselves, develop anger and resentment toward their parents, or feel unloved and unappreciated. But, not Lana.

She explained her recent revelation. “I realized that whatever I do, I can not control my mother, I can not force her to take an interest in things, so I’m going to use it to remind me what not to do when I have children. “

* The name of the student has been changed.

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