By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
"They're handling it great," Charity says, "because nobody's like, 'Why we got to go to a hotel, why can't we have a house, why can't we be perfect?'"
To Charity, perfect would be a safe place for her family, maybe with some space to play out back. Back in December, she told her mother that God has said they'd have a house in April. She's still waiting.
Despite Charity's optimism, Lisa has noticed her daughter throwing more temper tantrums and getting more angry since the divorce was finalized in November. But given all that the nine-year-old has been through, Lisa knows that she could be acting out much worse.
"Charity is every bit of her name," Lisa says. "Her name means love, and she's a very lovable kid. I think she's mature for her age and sees what goes on and has her opinions about it. Just because we're going through this hasn't stopped her or deterred her. Kids need stability, and all this bouncing around and bouncing around, it's hard on the kids. That's why no matter where we lived, they stayed in the same school."
But not for long.
The social workers, teachers and principal at Hallett have all been supportive of the Norwoods. But there's another school in Park Hill that goes all the way through eighth grade, and Lisa wants to enroll her kids in a place where they can all be together. Also, that school has better test scores than Hallett, which has had four straight years of low scores and could be heading toward restructuring if this year's CSAPs come back low. Although the principal is fighting for her school, trying to bring in scientific and technological experts who could help Hallett live up to its name, the Norwoods won't be there to see it.
Charity is excited about changing schools. She likes Hallett and will miss some friends, but she's ready to get away from a few girls she can't get along with no matter how hard she tries, even when she uses all the tools she's learned from the school's anti-bullying classes.
"It's like that movie Mean Girls," she says. "They're so mean. People think that just 'cause your hair gets done good, if you have nice clothes, then you have money and then they're mean to you. They be crushin' on boys, and then when the boys say no to them, they put it on someone else. And some kids think they're the only ones with one parent, that they're the only ones in that situation, but they're not."
With her love of reading, Charity thinks she could be a librarian, and she's also floated the idea of becoming an astronaut. But her real dream is to live in a big house: the White House. She hopes to be the country's first female, African-American commander-in-chief.
She doesn't know much about the other men who've been president, but she does know that she doesn't like President George W. Bush. "He doesn't really do that many things that a president is supposed to," she says. "He gives a lot of speeches, but he doesn't really help people."
Right now, she thinks the country might be ready for a woman to be president, but not a black man. Particularly not Barack Obama, because he smokes, and "black men do crazy things, like drinking and driving." But black men aren't the only ones who need to behave better.
"When I'm president," Charity says, "I'm going to give everybody twenty warnings, and if you get to the twentieth warning, you'll go to jail. A lot of people mess up a lot of times and really don't mean it, but I think by the twentieth warning they should've learned not to do it again." (If their crimes are very violent, President Charity will cut them off long before they reach twenty.)
But the most important plank on her platform is her belief that every child needs two parents, a house, clothes and enough food to eat. "I want to help people out with their situations," she says. "And I don't want kids to go through what I went through."