It was not surprising that Meg, over weight and friendless in Hawaii, suffered from the most harmful cruelty of all: the cruelty from her peers. Immediately Meg’s grades began to plummet. When she applied herself, Meg’s grades were great; in Virginia, she was a member of the National Junior Honor Society. It must have been hard for Meg to concentrate in class with other students snickering behind her back.
To our horror, she failed math the first semester. Still trying to earn my degree in my forties, I said, “Meg, I went down the road your on and believe me you’re not going to like it. It’s no fun.”
Regretfully, in our family, I always felt like the prophet Cassandra in the Greek tragedy, Agamemnon. Cassandra always knew exactly what catastrophe would befall her fellow Trojans, but would they listen: no. Kae, in her senior year, accused me of being psychic, a lot of good it did me. But actually my intense awareness of my daughters developed out of necessity.
Because Joe’s military mission often took him away from us to fly in other parts of the world and because we had no roots in our new destination, no favorite aunt to confide in or cousins who accepted you without question, I became their taproot until they were settled in. But Meg seemed to be having a much harder time during this transition. Although she’d never admit it, she missed her sister terribly.
Now Joe and I both wanted Meg to have the same opportunities as Kae. So we took some drastic actions that she fought against mightily. First, we found a math tutor, a wonderful young man who eventually became a friend—thank God. Second, we required her to attend Saturday math help taught by a dedicated teacher who became a mentor. Third, she enrolled in a school program that required students to have all their assignments signed off by each teacher every Friday. If she didn’t, she didn’t go out that weekend. Slowly her grades improved, but she was still overweight.
Meg’s overweight condition was exacerbated by the only part-time job she could find: slinging hash at KFC.