Tonight my grandfather looked at me and said,
"Where do you plan on being in four years?"
Usually, this question is simple to answer. The usual 'college' or what kind of job I would want to have, and I sat and thought about how I would respond. After a few moments of him staring at me, I said,
"I plan on taking care of myself for the first time."
He didn't really think that was funny, but what he didn't understand was that I wasn't joking. Ever since I was young, I have always had to take care of something or someone.
He waited for me to explain; he obviously didn't understand how that answered his question. I showed him examples from when I was young. Before my father got custody of me, I always helped my mom with whatever I could. Which wasn't a lot, because I was so young.
Between the ages of 8 - 11 are where I remember the most. This is when I was living with my father. He would fall asleep in the living room and I would wake up every night around 2:00 AM and I would check on him. He would be too drunk to wake up without getting sick, so I always tried to be quite. I would take the beer from his hand so I didn't have to clean up that mess the next morning. Then I would take his shoes and hat off, and I would turn off the TV. I'd always go back to his room to get his bed ready and then I would go back to turn all the lights off in the living room. There's no telling how many nights when I didn't get up and the doors were still wide open through the night. I would literally walk him back to his bed and lay him down, because he couldn't do by himself.
I was 8 years old.
A lot more has happen since then, and I still have to help him to bed sometimes. But now, I live with my grandparents and I have for years. They are getting to the point where I am helping them with everything.
Although my grandfather was surprised to hear my answer to his question, he listened to me for the first time and he understood.
I'm ready to take care of myself.