January 13, 2009
By Shawnee Griffin, Hartland, WI

To become an amicable adult, a person must be raised by more than just parents, as the old cliché “It takes a village to raise a child” says. I, for one, am an advocate for this statement and will tell the story of my metaphorical village. I was born in a one-room shanty in the middle of the Mojave Desert. My mother was a show girl who had inhaled one too many sequins and my father was an ex-duck hunter who believed World War III was just around the corner. It’s easy to see my parents were not as astute as parents should be, and by the time I was eight, my mother was deemed ‘unfit for child rearing’. She moved back to Vegas to continue her career. So it was just me and my Pa.
We decided to pack up and solicit a new life in Austin, Texas. We moved onto an old cattle ranch with my Pa’s friends, Jack and Janey. They had four kids, two dogs and a rather nefarious tom cat. Their family welcomed us with open arms. They were a little wary of me though. See, my pa taught me to do things a little different than normal folks. For instance, I was used to taking my baths in a river, or pond, or out of a bucket. On my first night in the new home, I used what I thought was a community pond to take my bath, and it turned out to be the neighbor’s pool. Boy, he wasn’t happy when he found his pool filled with soapy, dirty water. Janey taught me pretty quick how to use a shower. She told me how to groom properly, because I was a rather tom-boyish little girl. My ma hadn’t paid too much attention to me. I was also used to be able to start a fire anywhere I pleased. How else would I cook the black bird I killed with my sling shot? Jack got pretty upset when there was a charcoal-black hole in his perfectly kept lawn. He told me to use the oven next time. He also took me to the grocery store to show me we can buy birds for food, already de-feathered and everything!
I was a stubborn kid though, and I was loath to do everything they taught me to do. I preferred to sleep under the stars. They tried making me sleep on a bed though. So, I dragged the bed outside. I thought it was a fair compromise. Jack said it wasn’t. A few weeks into our stay with Jack and Janey, pa came down with some sort of malady. Within a month, he was gone. I now was under Jack and Janey’s care for good.
In September of that year, they sent me to the public school their children went to. The teachers scrutinized me and decided they could help. They helped tame me and turn me from a vexatious tomboy into a sophisticated female. I didn’t like the idea at first, but they eased me into my studies and my cleanliness. I now am proud to be a clean, feminine woman who doesn’t start fires and take baths in pools. This is all thanks to Jack, Janey and my teachers. Their hard work wasn’t ineffectual after all.

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