Melinda was a single mother who confidently embraced her femininity. After her child starts having problems at school, a planted recorder reveals a bitter truth about the dangers of insecurities and passing judgments.
Melinda hopped out of the bathroom with her towel on. Her long, wet hair accentuated her beauty even more than usual. She pulled out her uniform from her wardrobe and laid it on the bed.
She then carefully applied her make-up and pampered herself up for the day. This was one of Melinda’s favorite parts of the day. She loved looking and feeling good. She believed it gave her an edge over the day and boosted her confidence..
After going through her full morning routine, she finally looked at herself in the mirror with much admiration. Her short waitressing uniform showed off one of her favorite features, her legs.
And her hair tied in a ponytail allowed her to show off another favorite, her smile. She was ready to knock Monday out of the park. All that was left was getting her son ready for school, which wouldn’t be as easy.
“Josh! I hope you’re ready! We leave in ten!” Melinda yelled as she made cereal for her and her son.
Josh entered the kitchen dragging his feet, still partially asleep with his backpack on. Josh was in the third grade and was the apple of Melinda’s eye, even though he often drove her up the wall.
Melinda had raised him independently since his father’s passing when he was just a toddler. Josh and Melinda had, for the most part, been the only family each had ever known.
“Mom, I don’t wanna go to school today!” Josh whined.
“Yeah? Well, I don’t want to go to work either. But, somebody’s gotta pay the bills, and somebody else has gotta’ make sure they’re able to one day. So, eat up and get ready to leave, little man!” Melinda said, kissing Josh’s forehead..
“No fair!” Josh sulked.
Melinda proceeded to drop off her son at school. They shared a quirky mother-son handshake of their own making before Josh jovially ran off into school. Melinda then headed to the diner where she worked. The customers at the dinner loved Melinda, especially the men. She would serve them with the warmest smile, and the short skirt on her uniform didn’t hurt either.
Melinda was quite the looker and took great pride in looking her best. And when it came to her job or anything else she did, she always gave it her absolute best. She was just one of those people you couldn’t help but love.
“Josh! What’s wrong, baby? Why are you crying?”
Later that day, when Melinda picked up Josh, she noticed a sudden change in his mood. Melinda tried to greet him with their handshake as usual, but he simply ignored her and jumped into the car.
The ride home was uncharacteristically silent. Josh would usually tell her about his day, and then she would do the same. They would laugh about the day’s adventures and get ice cream on the way home. But today, the trip was completely silent.
“Everything okay, Josh?” Melinda asked.
“Mm-hmm,” Josh replied, sombrely looking out of the window.
“Okay… How was your day?” Melinda asked, giving it another go.
“Okay, I guess,” Josh shrugged.
“Uhm… So are we doing ice cream today? I’m feeling like something with a little chocolate,” Melinda said vibrantly, trying to add a little cheer to the atmosphere.
“I don’t feel like it,” Josh said.
Is Josh saying no to ice cream? Something’s definitely wrong! Melinda thought.
“What’s wrong, my boy?” Melinda asked, concerned. Josh simply shook his head and said nothing.
Melinda let it be, closely observing her son’s downcast mood the rest of that day. She hated seeing her son like that. She knew him too well to sense that something deeply troubled him.
A few days passed, and Josh was still in the same dejected mood. In fact, it seemed only to grow worse. The next day, a concerned Melinda decided she would go to Josh’s school to further investigate the cause of her son’s distress. As Melinda walked down the school hallway, she saw her son exiting his classroom in tears. He fell to the floor by the lockers and wept..
“Josh! What’s wrong, baby? Why are you crying?” Melina asked, getting on one knee to hug Josh, but he got up and ran towards the toilet. Melinda ran after him, rushing into the toilet. She knelt outside the only occupied cubicle where Josh’s sniffles and cries sounded from the other side of the door.
“Josh, you have to tell me what’s happening,” Melinda insisted.
“I don’t want to talk about it… Just leave!” Josh snapped.
“Have you seen how she struts around in her skimpy clothes at the diner? Worst of all, here at school!”
This was unlike Melinda’s child, and she knew it very well. Whatever was bothering her child was happening between these walls, and she was determined to find out exactly what or who that was.
Melinda stormed out of the bathroom and charged down the hallway into Josh’s class as if she owned the place. On any other day, Melinda was the petit, young beautiful waitress from the local diner, but today, she was a lioness defending her cub, and the gloves were off.
“Mrs. Parker! Please may I have a word with you outside,” barked Melinda.
Josh’s teacher, Mrs. Parker, immediately rolled her eyes at the sight of Melinda. “I’m in the middle of a class,” Mrs. Parker said with a side-eye.
“Now! Please!” Melinda said, losing the little cool she still had. Mrs. Parker reluctantly walked out of the classroom.
“Care to explain why my child ran out of your classroom in tears?” Melinda asked with a stern, no-nonsense pose.
“I have no idea,” Mrs. Parker responded, eying Melinda from top to bottom with a little challenge in her mien. “It’s probably just kids being kids,” Mrs. Parker said.
“Not with my kid,” Melinda said, almost threateningly stepping up to Mrs. Parker. “It’s your job to look out for our children under these walls, including Josh. All I ask is that you do your job, ma’am,” Melinda concluded, walking off. Mrs. Parker gave her a sneering look as she walked away.
The next morning, convinced the school would be of no assistance, Melinda planted a recording device in Josh’s backpack. Over the weekend, she finally listened to the recordings as she lay in bed.
“Have you seen how she struts around in her skimpy clothes at the diner? Worst of all, here at school!” said Mrs. Parker in the recording.
Don’t talk about my mother that way!” Josh yelled.
“I’m sorry, Josh. But let me teach you something that will help you when you’re older. Sometimes the truth hurts!” Mrs. Parker retorted as the class burst into laughter and murmuring at the expense of poor Josh, who tried his best to defend his mother.
Melinda continued to listen to the recordings in awe. Most instances showed Mrs. Parker slut-shaming Melinda in front of the whole class. Melinda could not believe her ears. She was completely furious and horrified at the audacity of Mrs. Parker.
On Monday, Melinda stormed into the principal’s office to confront him about Mrs. Parker’s behavior. The principal listened to the recordings and was shocked by what he heard..
Mrs. Parker had the day off that day, so Melinda and the principal decided to visit Mrs. Parker at her house. When they got there, they heard commotion and screaming from inside the house.
“This is not fair! You never have any money!” Mrs. Parker’s teenage daughter screamed from inside the house.
Don’t talk to me like that, Alison!” Mrs. Parker yelled.
I hate this place! I wish I lived with dad!” Mrs. Parker’s daughter yelled
“Alison! Come back here!” Mrs. Parker yelled before a loud bang sounded from a slamming door, followed by bitter weeping.
Mrs. Parker and the principal looked at each other with concern before mustering up the courage to finally knock on the door. They knocked a couple of times before Mrs. Parker finally answered the door.
“Don’t worry, I’ve been where you are before. It may seem impossible right now, but I promise you you’ll pull yourself together. One day at a time,”
The heavy bags in her eyes showed she’d been crying for quite a while. Melinda caught a glimpse of the inside of her house. It was a total mess! Mrs. Parker herself looked quite bad at herself, nothing like she normally did at school.
“Wha—What—What are you guys doing here? It’s my day off,” a bewildered Mrs. Parker exclaimed.
“Hi, Mrs. Parker. Sorry to bother you at home, but there’s a pressing matter we need to address. I think this will better explain everything,” the principal explained, beginning to play the recording..
Mrs. Parker began to weep bitterly.
“I’m so sorry, Melinda. It really wasn’t personal. Honestly, I was just jealous. My husband recently left me for a younger woman, and I guess a part of me took it out on you and Josh because you reminded me of everything I lost. Everything he took from me! Even my own children don’t want to be with me. And all I’ve done is love them,” Mrs. Parker explained in tears.
Melinda felt bad for the woman. It was obvious that Mrs. Parker was taking out her insecurities and frustrations on Melinda and Josh. She had never meant any malice before. But what she had gone through had her near to broken. Melinda summed it up as a typical case of hurt people hurting people.
“Listen, I hear your story. But the fact of the matter is that you let your personal issues at home affect your work. I’m sorry, but I will have to let you go,” the principal said.
Melinda saw the broken look in Mrs. Parker’s eyes, and she knew it all too well. It was the very same look she saw in the mirror after Josh’s dad passed away. All those nights of sleeping herself to sleep. It had taken all the strength she had to build herself again for the sake of her child and herself.
She remembered how much she would have appreciated a friend at the time. Someone to help her back to her feet. So, she decided to be that person.
“No, principal. Please don’t fire her. We’ve all had tough times. I won’t bring it up any further if you can kindly let it slide. I’m certain Mrs. Parker won’t let her personal issues affect her work again,” Melinda pleaded. Mrs. Parker was completely baffled at Melinda’s words.
The principal agreed to let sleeping dogs lie. Meanwhile, Melinda offered to help Mrs. Parker out. Melinda realized that the teacher’s children constantly demanding money from their mother only added to her stress and anxiety
To help alleviate this burden, Melinda offered to give the teenagers jobs as waiters at the restaurant where she works. She was about to be promoted to manager, and her waitress position was about to be vacant in addition to a few other recently available spots.
After that day, Melinda also started providing Mrs. Parker with her support and friendship. A part of Mrs. Parker’s biggest cause of frustration was her loneliness. Melinda was a single mother herself and believed she could help Mrs. Parker adapt to her new life circumstances.
“Don’t worry, I’ve been where you are before. It may seem impossible right now, but I promise you you’ll pull yourself together. One day at a time,” Melinda assured her.
The pair started to go shopping together, and Melinda would share her beauty secrets with her. With her children now making their own money, Melinda was able to help Mrs. Parker get a new wardrobe and a makeover. This boosted Mrs. Parker’s confidence and ultimately made her a kinder person, no longer limited by her insecurities
The two eventually became good friends. Mrs. Parker, who soon became Ms. Miller, also formed a strong bond with Josh, and he even became one of her top students.