"So did you finally decide what you're gonna do with the money?" I asked when she walked into my classroom.
It was the same question I'd asked her countless times in the last two years. The other teachers and I had had fun trying to guess what she'd decide to do with the $10,000 she'd be inheriting on her 18th birthday from her deceased father.
We'd made sure she had our input.
"College?" one of us had suggested.
"I know, a trust fund for Nikki! She's only two, by the time she's 18 interest will accrue and..."
We had all learned to expect her 16 (and then 17) year-old eye roll.
"Nope. A car! A month long cruise! Another car!" she'd counter.
Finally, her birthday was a few weeks away.
"Guess," she said.
"The Land Cruiser?"
"Nope, give up?" she asked. I said I did because it was obvious she wanted me to.
She drew in a long dramatic breath. "A boob job and a tummy tuck."
"Ha!" Typical of her sense of humor, I thought.
She seemed confused at my response.
She wasn't joking.
"But...you just had a baby. You're 18!!! I-I-It'll all bounce back!" I stuttered.
"Nope, nope. I've tried everything. Sit-ups, diets. I want to look like a normal teenager again. I'm sick of my belly ring jiggling way after the rest of me has stopped moving," she said with a set jaw.
"But you're not a normal teenager. You're the mom of beautiful Nikki..." I said with a sigh. Because of course, she wasn't listening. She had whipped out a stack of brochures and I found myself staring at a bunch of glossy before and after pictures of boob jobs and tummy tucks.
"See, these are the ones I'm getting: The Teardrop Shaped Ones," she said, as if we were chit-chatting about earrings. "Oh, and I'm getting double D's," she added.
I called her mom.
"Oh, yeah, so she told you, huh? Were you shocked?" she chuckled. "I think it's a smart decision. It's like an investment," her mom explained. "A car will eventually go out of style, with a trip all you have left is pictures...but I told her, 'if you look good, mija, you could get a man. A good one.' And then she and Nikki won't have to worry about nothing."
Soon after, the newly minted 18 year-old walked into the classroom with her tear-drops threatening to burst out of a stretchy tank top...one that stopped in the nick of time to show off the taut new navel. She had apparently had enough bling left over for a new belly ring...and a tan.
"Wow," I said.
"I know, huh? You can't even tell I had a baby," she beamed. "I think my dad would be proud."