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When I was a little girl, my mother was very sick and she couldn’t do anything with me. She couldn’t play Barbies or dress up and was always either on the couch or in her bed. I would try to help her but she was so sick that I could not do anything. One day one of my mother’s fiends had come to our house one morning when I was getting ready to leave for school. I didn’t know the lady even though I had seen her with my mother lots of times. The lady came up to me and told me her name and that I was a good friend of my mothers. I looked at my mother who was pale with big purplish blue bags under her eyes. She was smiling at me. But it was not a happy smile. It was one of those “it’s all right, don’t worry” smiles. Before I knew it I was being driven to school by that lady. I was terrified. I didn’t say anything. I knew why Daddy couldn’t drive me to school because he has to go to work early. But, why couldn’t he drive me for just a little while. Mother always told me that she was going to get better so maybe this will just be a one-day thing.
The next morning the lady was there again and my mother looked even worse than the day before. The bags were bigger and her face was paler. When the lady tried to get me to go with her I said, “No” and ran over to my weak mother who was lying on the couch again. I started to cry. I didn’t want this lady to come and pick me up any more. I wanted it to stop. The crying really started. Tears were just pouring out of my eyes. I wanted to stay with my mother and help her get better. This lady was taking me away from her. I started shouting, “No, no, no I will not go with you.”
“Sue could you give us some time,” my mother asked. Her voice was croaky and rough.
“Sue,” the lady said leaving the room.
Then I saw my mother reach over me and grab of the coffee table a small stuffed animal tiger. My mother had given it to me for Christmas that year.
“Now I know that you don’t like it that Sue is taking you to school but I can’t do it and daddy has to go to work early. So you are going to have to be brave. I want you to take this tiger,” she said handing me the animal, “his name is Billy and I want you to keep it with you until I get better. You see tigers are brave and they will protect you from anything bad that happens to you. I need you to be brave like Billy.”
I told her that I would keep the tiger with me and that would be brave like it.
“I love you,” she told me.
“I love you too,” I told her back. I still didn’t like the lady but I kept Billy with me that whole day. Billy would come with me to all of my activities at school. He would be with me at recess and nap time. When I had snack time Hilly would sit on my lap and when I would play tea party with friends he was with me too. The next day I did the same thing. I kept the routine and I did feel that I had courage.
A couple weeks passed and I was outside on the basketball courts with all of the big kids at my school. They were the ones who wore uniforms and took tests. The principle my school was announcing the birthdays of the day and my friends name was called and so I turned around to say happy birthday and to look at the new birthday pencil she had gotten. But, when I turned around I saw that Billy’s head was not sticking out of my backpack like it normally would. I started to cry. I didn’t feel brave anymore and I wanted to go home find Billy and be with my mother. My teacher noticed that I was crying. She came over and asked why I was crying. I told her that I wanted to go home and be with my mother. My teacher told me that I would be home by the end of the day in I would be able to see her then. But I didn’t want to see her after school and I wanted to see her now. She said that I would just have to wait. But that made it worse. My crying and want to see my mother just got worse.
It got to the point that my teacher could not take it any longer. She got her Teacher’s Assistant to watch the rest of my class as we went back to our classroom to call my mother. When my mother picked up the phone, I could hear her croaky voice as she tried to sound cheerful. My teacher explained what had just happened and asked if my mother could give some advice on what to do. There was silence for a while as my mother told my teacher something. Then my teacher extended the phone to me.
“Your mother wants to talk to you,” she said.
I took the phone into both of my hands and placed it to my ear. “Hello,” I said.
“Honey are you ok,” my mother asked.
“No,” I answered.
“Do you have Billy with you,” she asked.
“No I can’t find him. He is not in my backpack,” I said.
“Will you please give the phone back to your teacher,” my mother asked. I did.
It turns out that Billy had fallen out of my backpack in that lady’s car. She came to school and brought it to me.
My mother eventually did get back to full health and I didn’t need to bring Billy to school anymore. Nevertheless, he would stay on my dresser and always be there if I got into a fight with my best friend or in any other case where I needed to be brave. He was there for me throughout my child hood and is still with me to this very day. When I eventually grow up and have children, I will give them tigers to help them stay brave just like my mother did to me.