In the flashbacks, Noelle is seen with short, wavy brown hair that reaches above her shoulders. She's slender with a figure, noted from her bartending job as men tended to grab her 'rear' and stare at her chest.
Noelle often just gives her son snacks and fast food for lunch and arrives very late in school to pick him up. One day, Ryan's teacher Lydia Clements invites Noelle and Ryan over to her house, where they enjoy Lydia's famous chilli for dinner instead of going to McDonald's. Lydia tries to sympathize with Noelle, though seeming concerned about her use of profanity around Ryan.
Lydia establishes a close relationship with Ryan and Noelle, inviting them around for Christmas. She gives Ryan a book as a present, and receives a make-up case from the family. Noelle helps her to apply make-up for a night out, and speaks to Lydia about her dating life, revealing she's pursuing a married man with two children.
Lydia decides to report Noelle to the authorities, citing Ryan's unhealthy diet and his unwashed clothes. She also voices her disapproval over Noelle's dating life, and the fact that she is not religious. It is decided that Ryan is to be taken to foster care, and Lydia is confronted by an enraged Noelle who has to be escorted off school property by security.