Family Life, My Style
Grace. Age 13. Edson, Alberta

Most parents are normal. They are normal, with normal jobs, normal clothes, normal cars, you get the idea. Normal parents are cool. They’re... well...normal.

But my parents are the complete opposite of normal. It’s like somebody took the word normal and twisted it and ruined it and made my parents. Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents to death. But they’re just so weird.

Instead of having a normal job, my parents own a big store in town called The Time Traveler. This store is basically an antique shop, but not quite. It doesn’t sell things a normal antique store would. It sells objects you would never imagine existed. Like a small talking rubber-ducky named Steve that can do backflips in your pool. Apparently, he was made in 1983 or something. Or an umbrella that changes colors when it rains. Many other things like that exist in Mom and Dad’s store.

Still don’t think my parents are that weird? Well, here’s some more evidence for you.

Mom and Dad dress like they’re in the 1800s. Literally. My dad wears trench coats, like Sherlock Holmes. And by what my Mom wears, you’d think she was Nancy Drew. It’s absurd.

Our car isn’t normal, either. It’s apparently 1980 antique car or whatever named Betsy. Betsy is a bright yellow. Our pet isn’t even normal. It’s a hamster named Dr. Spell Check. Dad claims Dr. Spell Check is fluent in Spanish and Japanese.

Okay. Enough about my strange parents, and more about my even stranger story. It started when I was helping Mom at the store.

Mom was beside the counter, where people pay for the weird things they buy here at this crazy store. I, as usual, was bored to death. In fact, I thought I was going insane. I wanted to go on my iPod so badly, but Mom and Dad have this strict “no technology” rule in the store, so I couldn’t do that. I was waiting for Mom to close the store, so we could go home and have dinner.

But I wasn’t waiting very patiently.

"Mom" I groaned. "I. Am. So. Bored"

"Don’t worry, Alice" Mom smiled, and pushed her huge, purple-rimmed glasses up her nose. Those glasses are antiques, too. They’re from 19-something. "Only half an hour until close"

"But Mo-m" I groaned louder. "Nobody’s coming. Can’t we just close early?"

"Nope" Mom shook her head firmly. "But hey. If you’re so bored, why don’t you go into the storage room?"

Mom said it like it was the best idea ever. But the storage room was just a bunch of taped cardboard boxes full of more crazy antiques. But anything was better than sitting in the corner of the front of the store, staring at the wall. So, I got up, and walked into the storage room.

Bored out of my mind, I looked at the closed cardboard boxes, hoping that cardboard could somehow entertain me.

It didn’t.

But in the very back of the room, a small cardboard box was open. I walked over and gently put my hand into the box, knowing how delicate antiques usually are.

It was completely bare, expect for a piece of old parchment. I picked it up and read it.

It was a drawing. A drawing of a family. A little girl with blonde pigtails holding hands with two little red-haired boys, a woman, and a man. Whoever drew this must have put a lot of effort into it, because you could see lots of detail. By the way it was drawn, though, it looked like a ten-year-old drew it. A very talented ten-year-old. Above the drawing of the family were two words drawn in red marker, with bubbly hearts surrounding the words. The words were:

FAMILY FOREVER.

Huh. I wonder who drew it.

Suddenly, the storage door burst open. I was so startled that I jumped back, bumping into a cardboard box.

Mom laughed. "Calm down, silly. It’s only me. I guess we’ll close down early after all. Nobody’s coming"

I nodded. I showed Mom the drawing. I was really curious about it. "Hey, Mom, who drew this?"

Mom gently took it from me and read the drawing. A grin spread across her face. She flipped it over, revealing a name drawn in blue crayon. CALLIE CORBROUGH.

"Who’s she?" I asked, eager.

"Oh, probably old Mrs. Corbrough from across the street. She donated a lot of things to the store last week. This was probably one of them" Mom told me.

"Cool" I said.

"Hey" Mom said, her blue eyes lighting up like a lamppost in the dark. "Why don’t you give this to Mrs. Corbrough when we get home? I think she might like it."

I agreed, and we went on our way home. When we reached there, I jumped out of our antique car, and instead of heading to our antique home—yes, our home is antique, too—I walked across the street to Mrs. Corbrough’s cozy little home.

I knocked on the door, and it swung open, revealing an old woman with a sunny smile and sharp, but gentle, green eyes.

"Hello" she said. "What can I help you with, Alice?"

"You drew this, right, Mrs. Corbrough?" I asked, giving her the drawing.

Once Mrs. Corbrough saw this picture, her face warmed up like a campfire. She stared at the drawing like she was in the middle of a very good dream.

"Oh, I drew this years and years ago. To celebrate my family." She was so happy tears were trickling down her kind old face. "Family Forever. When I was a kid, I learned to love my family, no matter how weird, annoying or strange they are."

"Yeah. You’re right," I said, and smiled, too. I thought of my weird family. And how ungrateful I was to them.

I headed back home, and as soon as I did, I gave my parents huge hugs. And realised something.

I love my weird and strange family, no matter what.

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