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A Look Into the Life of a Troubled Kid

Updated on March 4, 2018


Left to Right, Brother Brennan 15, Sister Kilie 17, Myself 19, Brother Keegan, 13.
Left to Right, Brother Brennan 15, Sister Kilie 17, Myself 19, Brother Keegan, 13.

One Big Pond

As a child you think that nothing bad could ever happen to you. Every child growing up believes they are living in a perfect little glass house that could never shatter. In my case, my perfect little glass house shattered and I was left picking up all the pieces. A child does not ever think to themselves that their parents are going to split up, or that one of them is going to move to a different country, or even a continent! Nobody wants their perfect little family, or their perfect little house to fall apart. In fact, I had picked up each piece in attempt to glue them back together.

It all simply started with my mother wanting to go back to college. I was about ten years old at the time but can vividly remember the events. My father had been dropping subtle hints about him not wanting her to go back to school, but felt that he had to let her. Meanwhile, my mother had already enrolled and had been accepted to Marian University. Not even a few days later she decided she was going to study abroad in Europe.

We had found out that all of the professors’ kids were able to go along on the trip. My mother was furious. She asked if she was able to bring my sister and I along, and had found out that she could not. She fought it, and argued and eventually got the thumbs up to letting us come.

My mother was only going to bring my younger sister Kilie because she was technically only my mother’s child. You see my sister and I have different dads so it makes things a little difficult to work out at times. I had to sit through countless bake sales and watch newspapers interview my mom and my sister about going to England.

I was jealous, I was angry, and I wanted to be treated equally!

My dad did not want me to go along to England. It was almost impossible to make him say yes or agree to anything. After begging and bothering my dad finally agreed to let me go on the trip to mission “impossible” made possible. Now it was my turn to do bake sales, and be interviewed by the newspaper. Suddenly I was the star in my own show.

Daddy’s girl, that’s what I was indeed. Almost every sport I was in, he had insisted to become the coach or at least help out with whatever he could. He had made it a priority to be at every single sporting event I had been involved in. My dad was my number one fan, and was always there to cheer me on. He was my super dad, he was his very own super hero that I had admired. I wasn’t like most girls. I didn’t like to wear dresses or the cutesy little makeup stuff. That wasn’t me. I preferred to wear T-shirts and boys’ basketball shorts. I was the typical tomboy. I always did things with my dad; from taking me to badger’s hockey games to the Milwaukee Brewer’s games, we did it all together.

Today was the day, I had just gotten a brand new Game Boy advance SP, a huge bag of candy, and my luggage was packed. We had started on our way to the Chicago O’Hare airport. It was a long drive; swerving in and out of traffic was starting to make me a little queasy. I decided that I should just sleep it off, and before I knew it we had reached our destination.

We walked through the airport to the final security gates just before we were about to board the plane. This was it. I had to say goodbye to my dad. My dad was a tough guy; I had never seen him shed a tear ever in all of my life. I looked at my dad, my superhero, and he was crying. Not just crying, but sobbing. I couldn’t comprehend what was happening. I knew I had to say goodbye to my dad but, I didn’t think it was going to be this hard. I gave my dad a tight squeeze, and told him that it would all be okay. I also told him that I would email him every day and would call whenever I was able to. That was it, that was all the time I had to say my goodbyes. We had to get moving.

We reached the final gates. My mom, sister and I handed our tickets to the flight attendant and walked through a tunnel that felt as if we were walking in the middle of the sky. As we walked through the plane to find our seats I was trying to believe that this was really happening. Am I, Jade Vanburen really going to live in England, and go to school there for a whole year? I am. This is real. When we reached our seats I had to try to shove my backpack into a little cabinet above my head that was shared between myself and a few others.

Once the plane started to take off I immediately pulled out my Game Boy and my sister and I began to play. This was going to be a long plane ride, considering it was an overnight flight.

The flight attendants started handing out dinner trays. When I finally received mine I turned my head in disgust. I can’t quite recall what this foreign dish was but I’m pretty sure it was some sort of fish. I decided to myself that I was just going to eat candy and peanuts for dinner and then probably watch the movie that was kept on replay all night. I watched the movie and started to doze off into a deep sleep.

I woke up to my sister shaking me. “WAKE UP, WAKE UP!” We were in England. This was it. This was the moment my life had changed forever.

We had to take a taxi to Harlaxton Manor and when we finally arrived I couldn’t believe my eyes. We had to go through a separate gate just to get to the college. This wasn’t any ordinary college. It was a castle. Is this Hogwarts? Is this a dream? What are we even doing here? Did we go the wrong way? Give the wrong directions? What’s happening? All of these questions were flying through my mind.

We slept in rooms that were like dorm rooms. Except in ours there was an extra bed. My sister and I slept in a bunk bed and my mom had a separate bed in the middle of the room.

After a few days of settling in and touring “Hogwarts” I felt a little better about my new surroundings. Except tomorrow we were going to start school, wearing UNIFORMS!

Ziggy was the man. He drove the bus that brought us to Harlaxton Primary school. I was in Year 5, which was equivalent to fourth grade in America. School was similar to America yet had clear differences. There were five other Jades in my class, so at times it got a bit confusing. I had to stand up in front of the class and introduce myself. Everyone wanted to be my friend, but only because I was an American.

One thing I will never forget, that has left a mark upon me, is when we had a spelling test in England. One word I will never forget, the word color. I spelled it like any other American would- color. But in England they add pointless letters mixed within words. They spell color with a u.

Another different thing they did in England that has also scarred me for life is gym time. Gym time, is just like gym class except here in elementary school you don’t change your clothes. In England, they do. In fact, they strip right down in the middle of classroom. Yes, both boys and girls are all changing in the same room. Can you say weird and awkward? It’s a good thing my teacher noticed I was feeling a bit out of place, and had let me change in the bathroom.

After a few months of living in England I had started to feel a bit uneasy about it. I had come down with what seemed to be a terminal illness known as home sick. Our headmaster which was the equivalent to a principal had let me email my dad almost daily during school hours. I told my dad numerous times that I had wanted to come home, to be with him again. I also told my mom. That’s when they had asked me if I actually did want to go home, and I said yes. They had both arranged for me to fly home on my own. I was young so there was going to be an arrangement for me to have my very own babysitter, well a flight attendant.

Yet again, I had packed all of my luggage and had to say goodbye once more. I wasn’t as sad the second time around because I was going to see my dad again!

Finally, I had felt like everything was going to be alright. I was on the plane and on my way home. Whenever I needed something all I had to do was press a button and my very own flight attendant was there at the tip of my fingertips.

I was almost home, almost to my dad.


I’ve never been happier to be yelled at to put on my seat belt. I could almost hear my dad laughing at me. I started on my journey with my “babysitter” to grab my luggage. I found my bags almost instantly. Then I looked around the corner and there he was, there was my dad with a huge smile on his face.

He asked me so many questions that I, myself barely knew the answers to. One question I did know the answer to was ‘where do you want to go to eat’. I knew I wanted to eat at Taco Bell. So, of course we ate Taco Bell and laughed and joked.

I felt happy to be back at home and in my own bed but, was saddened to know that my sister was still across the big pond. I still had to wait six months for her to come back, along with my mother.

Six months later, I had found myself back at the Chicago O’Hare airport. This time we were waiting for my mom and my sister to return.

I saw them rounding the corner only to realize that something was off. My mom didn’t seem too enthused to be back in the states. I didn’t focus on that though, I was just excited to have my best friend back into my life, and so we went home.

My mom and my dad seemed to be arguing a lot. Not even a few weeks later had my mom decided that she was going back to England. Why? I overheard her talking to my dad about how she had met another guy there and had wanted to go to be with him. What I didn’t understand was why she had to take Kilie with her. Oh yeah, because we don’t have the same dads so technically she could do whatever she wanted with her because Kilie’s dad didn’t care. Whereas, my dad did.

My mom and my sister left, just like that. In a blink of an eye, they were gone.

I was in fifth grade at the time, when my mom had left. My parents were going through a nasty divorce. My sister was gone. My dad was a wreck. There I was left picking up the pieces of my glass house that my mom had smacked to the ground. I had to grow up faster than any kid would ever want to. I had to help take care of my brothers and make sure they were ready for school. Everyone looked to me. I had to be responsible. I had to take on responsibilities that no fifth grader should have to.

To this day, as a freshman in college my mother has missed out on countless holidays, birthdays, my junior prom and even my graduation. On the plus side my sister lives with my dad, my brothers, and I. He fought to gain legal custody of my sister through the court systems and succeeded. My dad is my hero. He was my sole caretaker. He was my super mom and my super dad.

Even though my mom hasn’t been around for almost anything, I still talk to her. I mean even though she has let me down a lot, at the end of the day she is still my mom and I yearn for that mother daughter relationship with her. I still haven’t forgiven her for everything she has put me through but, I had also found the positive through it all. Without this whole experience I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I am strong, emotionally I can handle almost anything thrown my way. Yes, I have the negative effect as well, I do have trust issues but with time there is no problem. I have a tattoo on my side that I never would have thought of without going through this whole experience. It says “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only option.”

I am strong. I am changed. Most of all, I am forgiving and loved.


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