Momma told me,
I had a voice and that I should use it before I lose it.
Momma also told me,
I had a choice and that I should make it before they take it.
I looked over my shoulder and asked, "Exactly who is they?"
Momma scooped out the broccoli mac n cheese, put me on her knees(although I was probably too old), and this is what she said:
"You have two things in life: your voice and your choice. Don't let anybody speak for you and don't let anyone choose for you. How you use your voice and how you make each choice is all up to you. I'm done speaking and choosing for you, it's your time, your dime, and your mind. Now you can choose to eat this broccoli mac n cheese or you can go into that Cookie Monster cookie jar and eat as you please."
I looked at her as though this was a trick, Momma being slick, always teaching me something from nothing. But I thought of the homemade chocolate chips and made a dash for the blue ceramic Cookie Monster cookie jar. I fit my whole arm into Cookie Monster's belly. Five and a half cookies came out in one swoop and I sat at the table scooping them in my mouth like a big yellow excavator on the work site. Momma knew that I didn't choose wisely, but I did make my own choice and she grinned as she put the leftover mac n cheese in the magnet filled fridge.
A couple of friends came by and we went to the park to play basketball. I took the ball in my hands, I felt real slow, my body couldn't quite go and it ended with my hands on my knees, trying to breathe. Then a five course meal came up from my chest, chunks upchucked, wait, wait, out came the other half. Cookies back from their grave-my stomach, all sprawled out on the hard cold cracked cement. "Disgusting," said one friend, as a drizzle came down to wash away the evidence of my poorly chosen lunch.
I felt better after that and continued to play as the sun peeked out. We were on a roll, putting the ball in the hole, and took on all comers. One friend had to leave and we had to fill his spot and checked to see who got next. Up raised a hand, stiff and bland, and pointed at him to join us. Then my others friends said, wait, as I looked from the gate, that guy wasn't actually a guy. My friends said: "Hell no, she can't go!" I was at a loss for words. Then I remembered Momma and stepped up to the drama and made a choice to use my voice. "Guys, she's next to play, she's waited all day, either she joins or I go home."
My friends shook their heads, followed my lead and let her on the court. You could smell the leaves of early fall, the game started, the defense parted, she was open, but nobody passed her the ball. Then came game point, she was invisible, and I followed her voice, I made my choice and slipped her a bounce pass in the corner. She ripped it and gripped it and let the pill fly through the blue sky, we heard the chain net, the sweet sound of victory.
A high five, a chest bump, a win, but most importantly a new friend. That night as I ate cold broccoli mac n cheese, I was now too old to sit on Momma's knees, but I learned I had a voice and knew there's a difference with each choice and that blue Cookie Monster cookie jar now scares the heck out of me... :)
Author Notes: One kid matures in the face of peer pressure, friendships develop when you least expect it.