Growing up with a strict specification for family was tough. There was always the dad, the mom, the grandparents, and the kids. My family didn’t follow the natural order and it felt like I got the short end of the stick. I was too young and too smart for my own good. I grew detached, disconnected.
Soon, I became the outsider looking in. Family dinners and reunions were a blur. And no amount of toys or chocolates could satiate my hunger for escape. There were so many ‘whys’ in my head, too many ‘whys’ for a child.
I was 4; four and desperate for a rainbow; four and searching for pixie dust. I calculated the number of milk cans I needed to bring if I took my infant brother with me. And every night, I would hope and pray for Rainbow Brite or Peter Pan.
They never came.
I figured that both Rainbow Land and Neverland didn’t exist, and it was time for Plan B.
The easiest solution: grow up.
I grew up fast. I grew up angry. And I was dying to turn 7.
Seven, based on my research – before Google was available – was the age when you could pick where you would stay. My mind was set on my grandfather. I would request to be under his custody and I would take my little brother with me. I was formulating the arguments I would make, wondering if they would let a 7-year old make an appeal in court. Whatever it took, I was going to break free of the Frankenstein family tree I was in.
Before I could put my plans into action, I met this old, Scottish lady with sparkling blue eyes. She loved to dance with her vacuum and on occasion, would fish dentures out of her champagne. She too, had a family that was almost as absurd as mine – zoo animals and all.
With tatas on fire, she showed me that I didn’t get the short end of the stick, that I wasn’t alone. She explained that there were all sorts of different families; no one size fits all.
My seven-year old mind was blown. Run over. Flattened by a truck like a latex mask on cold concrete.
I was balling like a child with the emotional baggage of a thrice-divorced, 60-year old. It was like someone threw an orange at me, tree included. My mind was as messy as her apartment and yet, with her magic, my Plan B became mere scribbles on a chalkboard. My anger melted like a snow cone in Phoenix. With puffy eyes, for the first time, in a long time, I felt like a child; that I had every right to feel the way that I did. And that it wasn’t my fault.
Thank you, Mrs. Doubtfire. Thank you for showing me that as long as there’s love – and restaurants with delivery service – I will always have a family.
And yes, I did turn out all right.
#RIPRobinWilliams. You are awesome.
Funny Mrs Doubtfire memes on Buzzfeed.