My Perfect Cheerleader Classmate Stopped Coming to Class After She Got Pregnant
And I forgot she existed until I saw her at graduation
My perfect cheerleader classmate stopped coming to class after she got pregnant, and I forgot she existed until I saw her at graduation.
I took a child development class when I was a senior in high school. It was an elective, and I can't remember why I elected to take it. Child development wasn't really my jam. Even as a teenager, I knew motherhood wasn't in my future - not if I could help it.
For some reason, child development was a class popular with cheerleaders. Perhaps they had all agreed to take the class so they could take it together. In any event, that's how I found myself sitting in the back of a classroom filled with cheerleaders.
I was not cheerleader material.
We mostly ignored each other, and that was fine by me. I've always been loud in my appearance but quiet in my personality. So I just sat there behind all the cheerleaders at school and alternated listening to the teacher with listening to the cheerleader clique and their gossip.
I sat in the very back of class every day, scribbling notes that I'd never read. This was back when I was still trying to decipher the difference between my black fine-tip pens and red ballpoints. My classmates giggled and eraser-clicked their way through class time.
One of the cheerleaders stood out above the rest. Her name was Michele. Michele was the head cheerleader. She was extraordinarily beautiful. Her hair was the blondest and the thickest. Her face was the prettiest. Her skirt was the shortest. She was the most athletic.
Michele was always kind to me; she was the only one.
Then one day, Michele was absent from class. That one day led into several days, then weeks, and then months; and then I completely forgot she had ever existed at all.
The class taught me a lot of things, like why kids don't normally turn into social butterflies overnight. It taught me why they don't play well together at the playground; why they don't really learn anything for those first two years of their lives. But most importantly, the class taught me that it's possible to be pregnant without knowing it, even if you're having your period every month.
I didn't think about Michele for the better part of a year. Not until I was standing in line at graduation, and all the graduating cheerleaders suddenly let out a collective whoop and encircled a late arrival, who didn't look familiar at all.
It took me a solid minute to figure out the identity of the skinny brunette with sallow skin and circles under her eyes. It was Michele, and my first thought was that she must have been very, very ill.
"I wish I had a baby," one cheerleader chirped at Michele, and that's when I understood everything about her year-long absence from school.
"No," Michele replied. "You do not want a baby. It's exhausting."
My perfect cheerleader classmate had become a mother during her senior year of high school, and I had to admit. It did sound pretty exhausting.
I didn't want any part of motherhood; I still don't. But I can't imagine how she handled the rigors of caring for a newborn while doing all her schoolwork at home so she could graduate with the rest of us. That must have been pretty brave.
I wonder how she's doing now, but I guess I'll never know. The truth is that I don't remember her last name. So there's no way to track her down. Even if I could, she's probably forgotten I ever existed.