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How I Had To Give Up on the Idea of a Perfect Family

“It’s not fair…” I’d mutter to myself as I watched. I was on a swing set oozing jealousy at the sight before me. A male with a thick beard showing signs of old age was guffawing at a petite brunette whose cheeks were tinged pink. She was running around taking pictures of their two daughters whose infectious laughters traveled in the air. Gazing at them with green eyes of envy, they were everything a family should be. They belonged on TV rather than a tiny suburb in Georgia. Six-year-old me began to wonder, “Why don’t mamá and papá act like that?”

I took a quick glance around the park looking for anything imperfect that remotely resembled my family. In the midst of my search, I was interrupted by my brother’s voice calling me to get ready to go home. As I arrived at the park’s exit, I mentally said goodbye to the perfect family.

Once I was fifteen, I was certain perfect families only existed on TV.  It was a Sunday morning, and I was basking in the peace and quiet until I heard someone shouting in Spanish. “Usted no me ayuda con nada! ¡Apenas puedes pagar las cuentas!” I stopped my music and listened attentively to my parents arguing. My mom was being uncharacteristically cruel to my dad.  As I sat in my bed I could envision her curly red hair moving back and forth as she swayed her head angrily back and forth like she always did when she was fighting with my dad. As I listened on, I prepared myself to hear my parents act like monsters.

It was a tired argument that I was sick of having to hear. My dad had been fired unexpectedly and was working in construction for the time being. However, it was no secret my dad was being paid extremely little in his new job. Although we were never even middle class to begin with, we always found a way to stay afloat but this had taken its toll on us especially my mother who would always pick a fight with my father much like she was doing at that moment. “Sabes que estoy haciendo todo lo que yo puedo,” I heard him say in a tone soaked in exhaustion. My heart dropped to my stomach as I heard how tired he was.

Hell, even I was tired. I was tired of having to drown them out with music or turn the TV on a little louder. I was so sick and tired of having to pretend like I didn’t have a broken family.

I went downstairs and confronted them with the same tired eyes. They spoke the instant they saw me ready to make their case. “Listen your father he…” “Don’t listen to your mother she…” I cut them off instantly. I didn’t want to hear who they were gonna blame, I was sick of having to take sides. “ Please don’t say anything. Let me speak,” and with that, I let out all the anger and confusion that has been with me since that moment spent at the park when I was eight. Perfect families were in fact made up in movies and unfortunately I wasn’t in one. And for the last time, I said goodbye to the perfect family.

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Jackie Maldonado
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Jaqueline's 16 years old from Atlanta, Georgia. .

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