By Alexa Toscano Posted December 16, 2022
As children grow up watching movies and cartoons, they see how well families function. They get the illusion in their head that this is what a perfect family looks like. Having game night, movie night, road trips where you’d all sing along to your favorite songs, and seating at the dinner table talking about how everyone’s day went. Unfortunately, once you outgrow that phase of your life you start realizing how different your family is from those on screens.
All of a sudden game nights no longer exist because mom and dad are busy. Movie nights end with you watching them by yourself in your room because your parents wanted to watch their own shows and your siblings have different tastes. You can never pick a show or movie without ending up in an argument. Road trips stop being a form of relaxation because your parents are too busy arguing about which direction to go. The only form of a “road trip” is having to go out of town for an appointment.
Family dinners become a metaphor when in reality the dinner table is starting to collect dust because everyone decided to eat in separate rooms. While the rest of the world is eager for the holidays because it means family vacations with matching pj’s. There’s a child who’s dreading break because they’ll be surrounded by screams, fights, threats, and being forced to pick a side. They don’t have anywhere to escape, they’re stuck in the four walls of their bedroom watching as the clock goes by; they slowly feel the walls close in on them, stuck in a trance thinking about where everything went wrong. When suddenly they hear their youngest sibling open the door racing to them to protect them from the family strangers see as “perfect”.
They lay down at night wishing for just an ounce of sleep, but their brain starts spiraling as every single inconvenience and every problem they can’t resolve comes to mind. They start remembering how they walked in on their parents fighting for custody. How overhearing their father say there’s no way the children are his because he let rumors about his wife cheating get to his head, especially on nights when he sits on the recliner sipping from his favorite drink that clouds his thoughts. He orders the oldest child, taking his problems out on them.
All they want to do is disappear from this world wishing they could be someone else’s child thinking of ways to escape when the happy pills the doctor prescribed don’t work. However, the thought of abandoning the youngest stops them; they know he won’t survive without them. When the separation becomes official it’s one week with mom and one with dad having to be interrogated by both because each parent doesn’t trust the other. They grew up with their mom telling them not to fall in love, and that each relationship ends in tragedy. Having to read books in school where even the love interests don’t end with a happy ending. When graduation comes around they’re out the door even if it breaks every piece of their heart being forced to leave their sibling, but knowing they need to be stable enough to support them because they’ll do anything for them to have the happily ever after they never did.