Prelude to Bill's Story

by Gabi Clayton

I decided to go through my old journals
and see a little of who this child of mine was
before "Bill's Story" began...


Bill comes home friendly and loving - we visit and chit-chat about nothing in particular.


I have not yet written about what is happening in this world, in this country, and in my life in Olympia as it spins around the crisis we are in. I am not sure why I have avoided the subject. The day after my last entry I went to a peace rally with Catherine, Noel and Bill at the State Capitol. Alec had to work. I think it was that night, at that rally, that it really hit me what it was possible that we are headed into.

The war has begun. I feel shaky and cold. I was home with Bill, who had just come home from a school walkout for peace. About 100 kids from his school went to the Capitol this afternoon. I got a call from a school counselor saying - to the answering machine - that Bill had left school without permission. A little later Catherine heard on KAOS radio that a large group of middle school kids met up with some high school kids at the Capitol. When Bill came home I told him I was proud of him - and I am.

Anyway, Bill and I were watching the news when the attack of Bagdad was announced. We just looked at each other, hugged, held hands and watched the news.


Yesterday was a good day too. Bill's birthday - the joy of Lego is still there. 13 - official teen.


Bill organized a school walkout today to protest the war, and I am proud of him for this. He took my note excusing him for a peace march to school and was asked to leave early so as not to disrupt school. The school called me and asked if that was OK with me. I said yes, so Bill is home now, working on his math. He plans to ride his bike downtown and meet his classmates at the Sylvester park vigil. I gave him a note to carry, saying he has been excused from school with parents permission - in case he gets stopped by the police as a truant.

The Olympia Public Schools 1991 calendar quotes Santayana - "A child educated only at school is an uneducated child." I believe Bill's peace activities are a very important part of his education. He is in the process of becoming a caring participant/citizen of this world and this nation. Thirteen years of age is not too young to be passionate about what one believes in.


Yesterday Bill found me a new rock. This one is small, grey, and egg-shaped. Perfect smooth/roughness. A wonderful gift - Bill knows how much this pleases me - he was proud of his find. I like to hold my rocks - their textures, their weight, colors , shapes - are meditative objects for me. Earth and time.


A dream (nightmare?) partially lost: It was raining really hard. I came home wet and got busy. Then I realized Bill wasn't home. I didn't know where he was. I worried all night and all the next day. Then I called the police. Everyone else thought I was making too big a deal. Then the police or someone said, "Well, he was on his bike and it was raining so hard that the bridges washed out." I started seeing him in my mind, riding his bike on a bridge that crumbles. Finally I was approaching Red Square at the college. Way across the square I thought I saw Bill, sitting quiet and tired and wet. Just sitting. I woke up. I've lost a lot of the details.


Oh, yesterday I got a warning from Bill's school - he was given a warning that said he had shown inappropriate affection at school. Meaning he has a girlfriend and was holding hands with her. The school says they were displaying overt physical attention - next time he/they could be suspended. So it begins. The teenage years have arrived with a bang and a letter from the vice-principal. I don't see that holding hands is such a big deal. We are all wondering if they are watching Bill extra close after last week when he was in-school suspended for punching his friend, and for "leading" or trying to lead the walkout during the war.


He's only 13! I don't think I have any problem with the idea of my kids being sexual, but he's awfully young... But I know that kids don't usually wait 'til mom says go ahead. All I can do is keep the communication open...

I did have a talk with Bill about sex yesterday - about how I hoped he wasn't in a big hurry and that I understand some of what he's going through and he can talk to me and ask questions. He said, "Well, you know that the last person a kid wants to talk to about this is his parents." I mentioned pregnancy and AIDS but I didn't make a huge deal about it. I hope I said enough. I hope I didn't say too much. Touchy subject / balancing act.


Yesterday was strange. I was excited about it being Christmas and woke up about 8:30. Sweet Bill had gotten up at 6:30 - made coffee and pancakes for us all.


Today is Bill's 14th birthday. My "babies" are growing up. It makes me feel good to see how wonderful they are. Bill is exceptional - so creative and sensitive. I'm especially happy that we have such good relationships in our family.

Emancipation is not that far off. I feel confident that Alec and I will be able to handle it with our boys without turning it into a major traumatic affair.

More about "Bill's Story" An index page with links to all my other pages that are directly related to Bill's story, and to related articles by other writers. Also here are links to the pages with hundreds of letters/responses and guestbook entries. There is a lot here, and this was the easiest way I could come up with to help you navigate these pages.

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1996 by Gabi Clayton

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