Updated: Mar 8, 2020
I have two separate sets of God daughters.
One set, I've written about quite a bit. In the post before my last post I referred to their mother as "Megan". Those kids are 8 and 6 years old and are now trapped in the foster care system in Detroit.
My other God daughter is 16 years old. From 2009 to 2013 I was married to a marine and we lived at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. At that time I owned a successful Mixed Martial Arts school, which I built by myself from the ground up. Within my first 6 months or so of operation this woman came to me with her two grand daughters.
Every single kid I've ever taught was special, but there was something extra about these two girls. We'll call them Paisley and Hallie. They were 8 years old, and their birthdays were just a few days apart. They didn't look too much alike, but they were like sisters. My first impression of their grandma was that she was a character. She clearly LOVED her grand children. She was funny, and easy to talk to, but you could tell life had been hard on her. She was having health problems, had inadequate state medical insurance, and drove a very, very beat up old car. The girls started with me right at the beginning of the summer. I thoroughly enjoyed having them in class. Paisley was the most athletic, naturally gifted martial arts student I had ever had. Hallie was an absolute sweetheart. She had the type of infectious personality that absolutely NEEDED to be on camera. She was super funny and smart. I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed having the two of them in my class.
As the summer came to an end, their grandma came to me to tell me the money from her taxes had run out, and the girls wouldn't be able to attend martial arts lessons anymore. My immediate response was "Absolutely not. They need to keep coming, free of charge."
Time went on and I got to know their family more and more. Their grandma had two adult daughters. We'll call one Kathrine and the other Lillian. Katherine was Paisley's mother, Lillian was Hallie's mother. I'd met Lillian a couple of times. My initial impression of Lillian was that she was tough, but loved her daughter and her niece equally.
After months, I finally met Kathrine. She came to a martial arts lesson to watch her daughter. I could immediately sense that she did not like me. Paisley had begun to really, really look up to me, and there were several times that she and her cousin came to my house to play with the two kids I nannied.
Finally, the story started to unfold.
Katherine was a prostitute. Paisley was her oldest child, and she had three others. After Paisley there were two girls, each with different fathers, who both lived in Japan with one of their fathers (who was in the Marine Corps). There was a toddler, who we'll call Jimmy. Jimmy's father was also a marine, and lived in Utah. Katherine didn't have custody of any of her kids. The grandma had custody of Paisley and Jimmy.
Jimmy, who was still in diapers had been born addicted to drugs. He was the first baby I've ever met who was born addicted to drugs. The first day I met him, he was running around the martial arts school, and Paisley and Hallie were chasing after him. The second day I'd ever met Jimmy, I was taking care of all three of them, and decided I would take them to an indoor bounce house location. Within seconds of walking in, Jimmy had a complete melt down. I didn't understand what was happening, and didn't know how to calm him down. In his terror, he reached for his 8 year old sister, Paisley, and she scooped him up, ran outside, and calmed him. I ran after them, so confused. Paisley explained to me that because he was born addicted to drugs, he had sensory problems and couldn't handle being around the loud roar of the bounce houses. I ended up taking them back to my house. The thing that struck me the most was that Jimmy clearly perceived Paisley to be his "mother", and she did ALL the things. She changed his diapers, made his bottles, and dealt with Katherine when she was high. Paisley was EIGHT YEARS OLD, and behaved like a grown up.
More time had gone by, and I got closer and closer to the grandma, Paisley, Jimmy, and Hallie. At one point Jimmy's biological father came back into the picture, fought for custody of Jimmy, and won. In an absolutely crushing defeat, Jimmy was ripped away from his sister and the only family he'd ever known, and taken to Utah to live with his biological father. Paisley was completely crushed.
I was speaking with the grandma and she told me, "I'm in so much pain. The only reason I haven't killed myself yet is because of Paisley."
I encouraged her to seek mental health help. At one point she asked me if I would take Katherine under my wing and mentor her. I apologized and told her I could not do that. I explained that Katherine was the type of person who did not want help. I felt like I had already developed a strong bond with Paisley, and also felt like mentoring Katherine would be a conflict of interest, and for me, Paisley was my priority.
And so, more and more time went by. Many, many times I took Paisley out for dinner, or to the mall, or to the park. In the summer I took her to the beach, and to her first waterpark. She'd become my little sister. For the first time in her little life, she was being treated like a kid. At home, she was saddled with raising her baby brother, worrying about her little sisters, taking care of her mom's drug habit, taking care of her grandma's mental health. With me, she was strictly instructed to HAVE FUN. She could order what ever she wanted off the menu. We did the activities she wanted to do. When she was about 10 I took her to a deserted parking lot to drive my car. We had lots and lots of special experiences together.
And then the day happened. A day I'll never forget.
I took Paisley to a theme park, and we had a phenomenal time. On the two and a half hour drive back, we had a lot of time to talk.
Paisley told me that when she was little, 3 or 4 years old, her mom would take her to the barracks and Paisley would sit in silence in the corner while her mom got paid for sex.
Paisley is a child who's suffered unbelievable loss.
When people defend prostitution, I feel fucking nauseous, because I know the kids. I know the families who are destroyed. I've held the children while they cry. They don't understand why their siblings are thousands of miles away. They don't understand why their mom chooses drugs over them. They don't understand what they did to deserve this life.
On that drive, for some reason, the conversation shifted to money. Paisley grew up in trailer parks. She'd never been on a vacation. She had lots of hungry nights, until she met me. We talked about what we'd do with millions of dollars. My response was simple. I told her, "I'd go on a permanent vacation with you."
I needed gas.
I pulled over and went into the gas station to pay. While I was in there I thought "why not?". I bought a lottery ticket (which is something I rarely ever do). When I came out the the car I gave it to Paisley. She fell asleep clutching it to her chest, and I spent the rest of the drive praying to God that that would be the winning ticket. I felt like, if God could hear any prayer, he'd hear this one.
Obviously, a few days later we knew it wasn't a winning ticket.
I've thought about that drive a thousand times.
Did I say the right things? Will Paisley be okay? Why? Why do people do this to their children? How could you fail your children as badly as Katherine failed hers?
People will have responses to this. They'll say nice things like, "God answered Paisley's prayers by sending you." But that doesn't change that child's suffering. That doesn't pay for her college education. That doesn't get her fucking mother's shit together.
Yesterday the grandma died. She was the only constant thing Paisley had ever had. She raised Paisley.
Paisley will turn 17 in three weeks.
Throughout the years I've traveled to North Carolina many times to visit Paisley and Hallie, and maintain a strong connection with them. I wish I had more money. I wish I could be there more, but I can't. I do as much as I can do.
I'm kind of trapped on a trip right now. I visited my brother in PA, who is in prison, and my flight back to Florida is two days away. As soon as I get back, I'll strip for a couple nights in a row, then head to North Carolina for the grandma's funeral.
Paisley is a very, very special person, and she deserves every good thing in the world, and she is one of the things that drives me to keep pushing toward success. I love her as if she were my own child, and I am so proud to call her my God daughter. I genuinely believe God sent us to eachother, and I will always, always be there for her.
Paisley's grandma was a very special woman. Poverty had been hard on her, but she never gave up. She taught me a lot about the kind of mother and grand mother I want to be. I will miss her very, very much.
Loved and never forgotten