This post springs from the Nov. 9 writing prompt: When was the first time you realized your home was not like other homes?

For this I go back to my childhood.

My parents separated when I was 3. When I was 4 my mother moved us to another house, and my father moved back into the one we’d been living in. It was a bit strange because my father’s house was literally around the corner, about five houses away.

Once my parents separated my maternal grandparents, who had always been around for us, became central figures in our childhood. Tutu and Gramps feature in most of my childhood memories.

When I was in Grade 2 and Halloween came around, I declared that I didn’t want to get dressed up that year, and I didn’t want to go out trick-or-treating. I declared that I wanted to stay at our house with Tutu and help her hand out candy. I don’t remember the reasons behind my decision, but that’s what I did.

At school the next day my teacher asked us all to draw a picture of what we did for Halloween, and I drew me with my Tutu at the door with a bowl of candy. I wrote Tutu above her head. My teacher told me I should change it, because people don’t have Tutus and the other kids would be confused.

Of course, I didn’t care if the other kids were confused, because she wasn’t my Grandma, she was Tutu. She was my second mother and my grandfather was my dad in all aspects of my life. It was Gramps, not my father, who taught me how to ride my bike, and how to hammer a nail, and helped me learn how to read. It was Tutu and Gramps who took care of my sister and me when Mom had to work.

When my teacher told me that my picture wouldn’t make sense to the other kids it became clear that my home and my family were different, but I didn’t care because it was clearly better.

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