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MORE THAN ONE KIND OF FAMILY

Last month at Mishmash Meadow someone finally moved into the old house at the end of Willow Street, the one that has been vacant for years.


Naturally, because I am very curious, I came over one day to greet the new neighbors and tell them all about Mrs. Lana Otter’s new ice cream shop! But a gloomy face opened the door for me.


“Hi,” I said, and I stretched my pink arm, the one that has four fingers “My name is Mistake” I said enthusiastically “Welcome to Mishmash Meadow!”


“Hi,” said the gloomy face, “My name is Tammy, and I really don’t like this place”


I was appalled to hear what Tammy said. She didn’t like my town? She hasn’t even tried Lana’s pistachio ice cream! There was something odd and I needed to know.


“And why don’t you like this place?” I asked, trying to keep cool


“Because I am here only with my mom. My dad stayed in my old house. Everything in my life is changing and I hate it” Tammy closed the door, and I was so confused. I had so many questions, but I didn’t want to be pushy, so I went back home.


The next day I went back to Tammy’s house and knocked on her door again. She opened the door with a long face, again. But this time I offered her to join me for some ice cream.


On the way there I noticed some tears rolling down her cheeks. “Whatever it is,” I told her “Some ice cream will make it better.” She showed an almost invisible smile.


We had our ice cream and I told her a few useful things about our town. Like where the fireflies gather at dusk, where is the best place to roller skate and who is the fastest runner in town.


I asked her about the day before, when she told me that everything in her life is changing. She looked to the ground and sighed. Looking at her fingers she told me that they moved to Mishmash Meadow because her parents were no longer together, so she and her mom and her moved over here, but she left everyone she cared about back in her old town.


I said that I was sorry to hear that, because it was obvious that it made her really sad. “What do you mean they are no longer together?” I asked. She looked up to me and said “they are getting a divorce” she paused. “They are, like, un-marrying. It’s like getting married, only backwards and there is no cake”she said, trying to smile.


“I can see that it makes you sad” I said “and I remember you said you don’t like this place…” I said, hoping she didn’t mean it.


“Yes, I said that.” she sighed “Because I am in a strange place, my friends and my dad are in another town, and I feel like this is all my fault.”, tears again rolling down her green cheeks (did I mention Tammy is a turtle?). I felt like I had to do or say something to comfort her, so I asked, “why do you feel this is all your fault?” She wiped her tears and said “I don’t know… I just feel like, now I don’t have a family anymore, I must have done something wrong.”


I took a deep breath, then I remember how my aunt and uncle had a divorce a few years ago and how my cousins felt so sad but eventually, they found a new harmony, so I said to Tammy:


“You know, there is more than one kind of family.” her eyes opened wide “Yes, some have one mom, one dad and their kids, some have just one mom or just one dad, but that doesn’t mean they are not a family”


“Sometimes parents don’t get along anymore, and they decide to be away from each other so they can be a better parent for you” I continued.


“People make choices, and they affect us in different ways. But you have to know that this is not your fault, and this new chapter in your life can be a great one” I said with a smile “I know it will be hard, but I am here for you. You can’t control what grown-ups do, but you can decide to find ways to be happy” I said, and I gave her a shiny yellow wildflower.


Tammy smiled and hugged me. I know her journey just started, but I hope I can be a good friend to her.


In all the uncertainty that she will be going through, I hope I can be a pair of ears that will listen to her and a friend that can remind her that she can still be happy, even if the life as she knows it changes a million times.


Talking Points:
  • Mistake didn’t push Tammy to speak when she wasn’t ready

  • Mistake was friendly and offered support

  • Mistake asked questions about how Tammy felt

  • Mistake offered some positive thoughts

  • Tammy opened up and shared how she felt


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