“They work to keep us food and a roof over our head. I’m happy with what I’ve got. I’m happy with all the toys I’ve got. Most kids don’t even have what I got, so I should be thankful for what I get, not ungrateful.”
Shannell Carroll, Age 8; Harlan, Kentucky:
“I was a little tricky kid. I used to pull pranks on my mom. I put gumballs on the floor, and she would trip. I also put spaghetti all in the house, made her slip and slide. Also, I played a prank on my pawpaw. I let him hold the baby and then I went in there to my granny and I said, ‘Granny, Pawpaw hit me,’ when I really hit him. His nose was bleeding and all that when I said he hit me. He was just holding the baby, taking care of it. I learned my lesson from that. I got grounded. I got spankings. I got in big trouble. I was a bad kid. I was also funny.
I got a new stepdad now. He’s nice. He’s so nice. He takes care of the baby. Mom just had a baby. He takes care of the baby and normally mom would go to sleep and in the mornings we wake up and Ruthie, she’s in there and she’s only in 7th grade, she walks us to school. She lives a few apartments up from us. He would wake up with us and if it was too cold and if it was raining, he would drive us. He gets up at 7 ’clock to cook us breakfast because we wake up at 8 o’clock. It takes about 30 or 40 minutes to cook breakfast. So he goes ahead and starts to make it.
He has a job at BP and the Game Stop. Mom has a job at the Shirt Shack and Hardees. They both work for us and we got a baby sitter, our grandmother, Mama Cat. She loves to cook and clean. She’ll clean up our house for us. She brings a baby named Leila to our apartment. We adopted her. Well, we didn’t actually adopt her, but she’s mostly with us.
They work to keep us food and a roof over our head. I’m happy with what I’ve got. I’m happy with all the toys I’ve got. Most kids don’t even have what I got, so I should be thankful for what I get, not ungrateful.
I’m supposed to have four brothers, but Jackson died, so I’ve got three right now. Jackson was just only 15 days old and he died. He is supposed to be nine right now if he was alive, nine years old. I didn’t even get to see him. CJ, my big brother who is out there, he’s 10, he was the first one to see him. He was only two. One day, he just quit breathing and his heart stopped pumping and he just passed out.
I got a stepsister, which she really acts like a dude and I barely get to see her. So I’m just the only girl. And I have a little cousin, Macai. He acts like a brother. He is always at my house. I really like my new house and my family and I am thankful for what I’ve got.
My brothers, they’re mean. CJ pooped on my dead fish. He pushed me out of the way when I was trying to dump them in the toilet. The toilet was clean and my stepdad told me to. Oh my gosh, he pulled his pants down and pooped. I ran out and shut the door. I told my step dad. Boy, he got in trouble. I like to get my brothers in trouble. I’m the sneaky one. But I do not lie. I shouldn’t because I read the Bible. The Ten Commandments say, ‘Thou shalt not lie.’ So I think I should not lie as much. Also, my stepdad if I lie and if I’m already in trouble, he spanks me, he’ll give me an extra lick.
My dad doesn’t live with me any more. He doesn’t have custody of me any more because he went to jail. I didn’t see him for a few years.
It has been hard without my daddy I don’t really need my real dad. He doesn’t come see to me anymore, so I need my step dad and my mom; mostly my mom because she’s been with me all my life. Ever since [my mom and stepdad] met, I thought mom was loving him more than me, but no, she didn’t. We went to Zumba that day. I talked to her, told her how I felt and she was like, ‘No, because I’ve known you longer, I gave birth to you and you don’t really need your dad.’ I was like, ‘I want my dad, though.’
She said, ‘you don’t need him. Who’s watched you all your life?’ And I said, ‘you.’ And she said, ‘who’s bought you clothes? Who bought you the first outfit?’ I was like, ‘you.’ And she was like, ‘you don’t really need your dad.’ So, he’s been gone. I haven’t got to see him because his car broke down and he lived all the way in Cawood.
He has an Indian graveyard at his Cawood house. He’d normally go and see them. Go down there and do that and play with the graves. He’d step on them. I don’t know why. I told him he might get a curse on him, and he told me, ‘Yeah, sure.’ He one day did get a curse on him. His mom almost died. She almost had a heart attack so I thought that was the curse. So I don’t know….
(What’s been sad in your life?) Well, my brother dying and I didn’t get to see him and mostly when my step dad’s gone. I need him. And I don’t really get to see most of my cousins. They live all the way over in Lexington and [mom] can’t pay for the gas money to go. She only has a little gas in her car.
I don’t skip school. Only unless I’m sick so I don’t spread it. It’s better missing one day than a whole week. I’m bad at science, but I am good Reading and Math and Language Arts. I’m ‘Distinguished’ in Math, ‘Proficient’ in Reading, and ‘Distinguished’ in Language Arts.
Science, I suck. I get a D because I don’t know how to do all the stuff like the other kids do. I don’t know about the human body and the butterfly’s body. I know some of the human body and the butterfly body, but I don’t know the rest. I know about mammals, amphibians, predators, and prey. A predator is something that is being hunted. Is that right? No, hunting it. And the amphibian is like the frog. A frog is an amphibian. The prey is the thing [predator] is trying to eat it. And the mammals. We are mammals. They got hair. They milk. They have two legs and two arms. Well not that, but they don’t lay eggs. They don’t lay eggs.
I actually want to be a fashion designer and an actor. Well, mostly a singer because I’m good at singing. My brother, CJ, and me we always make songs. So it’s like, it’s fun. It’s fun making songs. We got the hang of it so it is easy for us to make songs. We’re going to the studio. Our aunt is going to make us a CD to give to everybody. It’ll be a dollar.
Do you know Gilly, Gilly?
Gilly, gilly , gilly, good morning, good morning, good morningGilly, gilly, gilly, good morning, good morning to you
minnie mac, minnie mac, minnie minnie minnie macminnie mac, minnie mac, minnie moe
minnie mac, minnie mac, minnie minnie minnie macminnie mac, minnnie mac, minnie moe
Gilly, gilly, gilly, good morning, good morning, good morning
Gilly, gilly, gilly, good morning, good morning to you!”
I go to the Harlan Christian Church. I know one song there. It is called, ‘The Great I Am.’ That song’s my favorite song. I love that church because they provide for us. They give us food. We normally have big dinners, and they teach us a lot about the Bible. I know the shortest bible verse, ‘Jesus wept.’ Wept means cried. The men were counting money in the temple and He wept. He starting weeping.”