That's All That Mattersbyvelvetpie©
I revved the engine slightly and turned the radio up a bit. Def Leppard was playing and my mind touched on the first time I'd ever heard them. I had been a mother of two small children then, deftly trying to balance sanity and parenthood. It didn't always work but I did the best I could and was reasonably pleased with the fact that I had two healthy, productive children. My babies were teens now and they didn't need me to taxi them back and forth from school like the old days. Now, I was waiting for a different set of children. My niece and nephew.
As I waited, I surveyed the children streaming out of the elementary school and couldn't help but smile. A group of little girls were playing jump rope, their skirts lifting to show tights. Ug. I remembered having to wear them to school. They were hot in the summertime and itchy all year round but they weren't fashioned for comfort. Nothing we wore as children was fashioned for our comfort except shorts and bare feet. A few mischievous boys crashed the girls' game and they were quickly dealt with, getting quite a bit of lip from one girl in particular. I laughed. You go girl!
Hulking yellow buses entered the flow, usurping some of the waiting parents' spots and waiting pupils climbed aboard, chattering like peahens and others dashed out into the arms of their waiting parents and were whisked away. Still, I waited. Def Leppard gave way to Eric Clapton and the cries of playing children filled my ears. Come on! It seems that I had forgotten my hard-won patience and it was showing now. I looked around in the car for something, anything to read and spent less than a minute reading a bill from Sears.
Little by little, the air cleared of car and bus exhaust and soon, I was among a handful of cars, still waiting for my charges. Finally, a dark-haired woman appeared at the front door with Hailey and Joey, her eyes searching the parking lot as she kept a motherly hand on their shoulders. Joey shouted when he saw me and made to run but her hand clamped down on him, making him stay at her side. Leaving the windows down, I took my purse, thinking to provide identification and strode towards the threesome.
"Hi, Auntie!" Hailey grinned as I neared the group. Joey was not as forgiving as she was. His anger was clearly showing in his clenched fists and the scowl on his cute face.
"Who are you?" The woman snapped, looking me up and down as if I was a pedophile.
"I'm their aunt." I displayed my ID, watching as she scrutinized it, her hands still controlling the children's movements. "I'm listed on the pick-up form."
I was so stunned that I had nothing to say right away and for those who knew me, that was an unknown commodity. I always had a snappy comeback tucked into my sleeve but now ... "Uh, yes?"
"How is it that you are the aunt of two white children?"
Heat flamed my face and the want to be a smart-aleck chomped at the bit. Still, I fought the good fight, pushing the warring parts aside. "Their mother is the sister of my husband."
"A white man married you?"
I looked at Joey, whose expression hadn't changed and noted that his little lips were white. He was doing his best to rein in his anger. Hailey's sunshine smile had faded into dismay and confusion. She obviously couldn't understand why this person that she had trusted was acting so stupidly. I gave her my warmest smile and a quick wink that she returned, remembering our game.
"What is your name?"
She looked indignant, drawing herself upright as if royal. "Helen Motley."
"Well, Ms. Motley, yes, a white man married me and I consider myself lucky. Not because he's white, but because I found someone who loved me as much as I loved him. The color of our skins had nothing to do with our feelings towards each other."
"It's a sin!" She hissed, her glasses slipping off of her nose. "Races should not mix!"
My eyes met Joey and Hailey's and I stepped very close to the woman, gritting my teeth. "Look, I don't know what your problem is but I am here to pick up my niece and nephew. I'm sorry that your life sucks, but mine doesn't. I was lucky enough to find a wonderful man that wasn't as ignorant as you are and because of that, Joey and Hailey will grow up with a black aunt that loves them as much as their mother does." I moved back and crouched down. "Come on, kids."
Joey wrenched his jacket from her hands and came into my arms. Hailey looked up at Ms. Motley with tear-filled eyes and waited until she was released before flinging herself into my arms. Motley glared at me but I ignored her, standing up and taking their hands.
"Let's go." I got them into the car and smiled at both of them. "You guys okay?"
"Yeah." Hailey answered, somewhat subdued.
"Why do people have to be like that?"
"I don't know, Joey, but we aren't going to worry about her, okay?"
He shook his head but I knew that he was still thinking about her. Hailey put her little hand over mine and gave me a squeeze. "I love you, Aunty."
I gave her a kiss and reached back to give Joey's knee a squeeze as I fought the tears away. "I love you, too, and that's all that matters."