When I was in 4th grade, a new phenomenon sprung up.  It seemed divorce was becoming very popular among my classmates’ parents, so the school sympathetically formed a group for children of the separated, divorced, remarried, and estranged parental units.  It was fittingly called Banana Splits, which I think is a very cute and attractive name for a depressing circumstance.  I know this now. 

In 4th grade, I just wanted to eat in the library.  So, with a stable home, and 2 very married parents, I trotted off to the library to each lunch with the children of rockier home lives.  I don’t think I really knew what it was about.  I don’t think they adequately described the group’s purpose or “membership” requirements.  I believe, if I can remember correctly, that they spoke in general terms, saying something about if someone in your family had died, or if you lived with grandparents, or if your parents had split up.  I latched onto the keywords “dead” and “grandparent” and decided I could join.  My grandfather, who had been dying from Parkinson’s since I met him, had passed away during my 3rd grade year.  I had never been aware of dying before, so, even though I wasn’t terribly broken up about Grandpa Oscar’s death, I milked it for all it was worth, even pleading out my grief and begging out of writing “Oscar” in cursive the week we were learning capital “O” in 3rd grade.  My teacher was sympathetic.  I wasn’t such a hard-hearted child; I just discovered death in my own way. 

When Banana Splits came along, I rushed to join the lunch crowd in the library.  One of my best friends, who also came from an intact, 2-parent birth family, tagged along.  Years later she confessed to me, “I only went because you went.  I didn’t have any idea what it was about, or why you went.”  To my knowledge, we never discussed the sadness and challenges I’m sure the rest of the group members faced. 

In retrospect, I’m grateful to my teachers for never embarrassing my youthful ignorance and zeal for special treatment.  Thank you Mrs. Howard, thank you, Mr. Eggleston.

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