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Parting With the Dark Cloud

A Mother's Mistake on Display

By Leslie StavenPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
Runner-Up in The Dragon Beside Me Challenge
Parting With the Dark Cloud
Photo by Lubov' Birina on Unsplash

I was in Mrs. Seymour’s fourth grade class. I was the quiet student. I was smart, but I was respectful which made me appear to be meek and shy. I had never been in trouble at school or, for that matter, even received “a look” from any teacher. Yes, I was that little girl - Little Miss Goody-Two-Shoes!

I had been excitedly anticipating this day for a week. It was the day before Open House, and all of the parents had been invited to come to class to do an art project with their child.

Of course, Mom came. In her presence, I was always so proud and happy. The art project used yarn. On the shelf below the window, sat the basket of yarn from which we could get what we needed. When we were done with the ball of yarn, I didn’t know what to do with it. I remembered something was said about it, but I couldn’t remember. So, I raised my hand.

I sat there, next to Mom, and kept my hand up high in the air. I held that hand up, waved it, and waited. I had to use my other hand to support my raised arm. Still, no response. Mom began to become restless and, in my fourth-grade eyes, I thought she was worried. So I told her “It’s okay. It always takes her a long time to see my hand.” Smiling, Mom told me to go put the yarn back in the basket below the window.

That was the wrong place. Although Mrs. Seymour must have seen it (or someone told her), nothing was said at the time. The parents went to recess with us, and Mom waved as she left the school and we returned to our class.

There - on the bulletin board… I froze. The bulletin board had a beautiful spring scene of rolling hills, blue skies, a bright sun, and flowers on the hill. The flowers had each student’s names... well, the flowers had the names of the students who were "good." Eddie Fisher's name was on a little gloomy, black rain cloud because he was bad. He was a bully and I was often his target. But... when we came in from recess, my attention was called to the board by someone (probably Eddie!). And I froze.

To my horror, because of having put the yarn in the wrong place, there was my name on a black rain cloud. Life was ruined. It cut me deeply, especially because it would be on the board for all the parents to see at the open house. Even now, 6 decades later, I can feel the lump in my throat. I suppose I told Mom as soon as I got home.

The next day, that rain cloud hung on the board - and over my head. As the minutes and hours ticked away, I was dreading Open House. Open House was an event the family always cherished, and we always went to get an ice cream afterward to celebrate our achievements. I was sure there would be no ice cream.

Our family arrived at the school, signed in, and got their nametags. Mom said we would go to Mrs. Seymour's class first. Tears collected in my eyes, as I knew that my parents would feel the shame of my behavior, and that the other parents would whisper nasty things about them. As we stepped into the door, Mrs. Seymour reached out her hand and said "Welcome Mr. and Mrs. Rankin-“

My mom did not take the out-stretched hand. Instead, she walked silently, past Mrs. Seymour, directly to the bulletin board. Holding my breath, I watched. Mom removed her nametag and, with a thump of emphasis, tacked it over my cloud. Tears overflowed for that gift. The love and gratitude I had for her in that moment was indescribable, and has never faded. I knew I was loved, understood, and respected by my heroic mother. It caused a powerful pride to settle in my throat and chest. That night, I never let her hand loose, or stopped looking up at her in every sense of the word "awe."

The next morning as I entered the classroom, my name was on a bright pink flower, and the cloud was gone. As I walked to my desk and smiled at my flower, I saw Mom’s nametag, still attached to my cloud, in the trash can below the board.

It was a monumental moment in my life. She demonstrated love, kindness, and respect for me. My mother’s powerful character and integrity was like a beacon to guide me. My mother, truly was and will forever be, in the words of Maya Angelou, “…the rainbow in my cloud.”


About the Creator

Leslie Staven

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Comments (7)

  • Anna 2 months ago

    Congrats on the win!!

  • Jay Kantor2 months ago

    Dear Leslie - Such a lovely presentation. *As I scroll through your offerings I've subscribed with pleasure. I wrote, for the Moms Someday, 'The Llama & Koala in my 'Bone Head English' class that has been revised with our VillageBucket, Kristen Balyeat. Jay Kantor, Chatsworth, California 'Senior' Vocal Author - Vocal Village Community -

  • Hannah Moore3 months ago

    Yes! Good for her!

  • Davina Zinn McKee3 months ago

    Beautifully told story and tribute to your mother! I love the way you tied in the metaphor with the cover art at the beginning and Maya Angelou quote at the end. Your writing is great.

  • Andrea Corwin 3 months ago

    I like your mom; she is courageous and showed up when you needed it and didn’t need to say a word but made her point!! Yay!!!! Great story and congratulations!

  • Dana Crandell3 months ago

    Your mother was much like mine, it seems. You've written a wonderful tribute. Congratulations on Runner Up!

  • Judey Kalchik 3 months ago

    So, I'm crying. your mother was a warrior, and has earned my respect. I'm so very happy that you had that example, and the memory of being heard, accountability, unquestioning love.

Leslie StavenWritten by Leslie Staven

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