By Ardain Jr. IsmaSpecial to CSMS MagazineMy father‘s car, which is a 2000 black Nissan Xterra has been of good use to my family for years. It is long and black and very stern. It always makes a little noise when you start it up. On the back of the car there are two white bumper stickers, which were given to me when I was in elementary school. The first bumper sticker reads “Stay off of drugs and live free.” I got it when I was in first grade. The other one reads “I’m a proud parent of an A student.” The latter sticker was given to me when I was in fifth grade. Each time I received an award from school, I gave it to my dad so he could display it on his car. They now look pale out and dry. Nowadays, it still feels nice to know that after all these years my father still keeps them on the back of his car. I guess he is still proud of me. On the inside of my father’s car, near the steering wheel inside the glove compartment, my dad has tons of audio cassettes. When you open up the compartment, all you see is a big mountain of audio cassettes just stacked up ready for you to play them. When I was young, whenever I would go somewhere with my dad, he would always play the cassettes to keep us going and happy instead of being bored on our way to our destination. The songs on those tapes would go to be the soundtrack to my life. They were and still are filled with beautiful songs from my parent’s homeland of Haiti. The sound system was crystal clear, as my dad used filtered speakers. The music would sound like water coming down a stream. On the exterior of my father’s car, the nice rich black paint on my dad’s car never had any dents on it. To this day, nine years after my father bought his car, it still remains clean and sharp. The texture of the paint looks like a rich black sea covering a cliff at a mountaintop. It never ceases to amaze me that the paint still looks the way it did when my father bought it nine years earlier. When you touch the car, it feels smooth like a fresh leather jacket that you would buy at the Sax-Fifth- Avenue store at the mall. Sometimes I wonder why time has gone so fast. I wish I were younger, for I miss the caring, the loving, the teaching—those beautiful Creole words that I come to learn, admire and love until the day I die. I miss the early morning French lessons, the summer jogging down the park while we learned how to count in French and in Creole, the bed-time stories that crippled my little soul but I loved every bit of them, the tales from distant Caribbean lands that have come to shape my character, and the delicious Sunday afternoon carrot cakes that my mother would not go without. As I’m getting older and ready to face my final journey in high school, other things now preoccupy my life: the quest to score high in my college entrance exam, the peer pressure, and the uncertainty that lies ahead. So busy that I don’t get to enjoy going out with my mom and dad as much as I used, and that is enough to envelop my heart with an everlasting nostalgia for the old time. I don’t dare telling them that, but my sister and I never stop talking about it on our way to school.I guess life is simply unfair and sometimes can be cruel to some other children who were brought up to this world but left to be raised in institutions without the irreplaceable bond that every child seeks from his/her parents. Although I’m getting older and soon I’ll enter manhood, the traditions I learned from my parents will forever mark me. Living up to my parents’ standards is a challenge; they are well educated and strongly believe in education. They are my number one teachers, I’m grateful for that. How can I ever forget my difficult science projects that my dad would spend all night with me to configure, and I would show up at school the next morning being the Great Pretender, showing off my sophisticated, self-standing poster as I walked down the isle on the way to my seat. I don’t want to wait for when my parents pass on to publicly express my infinite love and gratitude. They are my biggest prize possession. As far as my dad’s car is concerned, it’s still going strong and shiny, and it will be a classic that I will keep in my garage when I get married. My father has already promised. Also see Coping with holiday stress Best tips for emerging writersNote: Ardain Jr. is sophomore at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, Florida. He wrote this essay exclusively for CSMS Magazine.