eg*'t °4 Zachary's Divorce: Child's View of Marital Breakup
By LINDA SITEA
On this particular Saturday
morning Zachary's toes woke up
first. They wiggled and wiggled and
wiggled in the warm sunlight
streaming through the windows.
Zachary could feel them wiggling
but he couldn't see them because
his eyes were still asleep. Next, his
arms and mouth woke up and
together gave a gigantic stretch and
yawn. The yawn sounded something
like this: "Aaarrr." Then his whole
body woke up and turned over and
over, quickly, and before the last
turn was done his eyes opened and
Zachary was all awake.
Slowly he climbed out of bed
and tiptoed across the rug. He
moved carefully, so he wouldn't step
on the blue and green flowers, only
the purple ones, because purple
was his favorite color.
He went straight to Mommy's
and Daddy's room. He looked at
Mommy sleeping in Mommy's and
Daddy's bed. He looked at the wood
sculptures he had made in school
that were nailed into the wall. He
looked at the leafy avocado plant
that was almost to the ceiling, just
the right size for pretending you
were an explorer lost in the jungle.
Zachary looked at the bookshelves
and the easel and Mommy's
paintings. He even looked in the
closets and under the bed. Daddy
was not there.
Next he went into the bathroom.
And while he was there he sang a
La la pee dee
La la pee vee
La is pee gee
Daddy was not in the bathroom.
Zachary slid down the stairs on
his stomach, bump, bump, bump.
He walked back and forth from
the living room to the dining room
four times and tried to practice his
whistling. But no whistle came out,
only a puff of wind.
Zachary looked at the
bookshelves and his favorite plant
that was all purple.
Daddy wasn't in the living room
Next Zachary went into the
kitchen and there on the wall was
his best invention. He turned the
handle and the pulley went around
and the rope pulled the refrigerator
door open. Daddy had helped him
build it but it was all his own idea.
Daddy and Mommy had said it was
a really great idea because you
could open the refrigerator door
without walking all the way over to
it. Zachary closed the door now. He
didn't feel like any orange juice this
morning. No Daddy in the kitchen.
Zachary went back into the
living room and sat on the big chair.
He pulled Mommy's patchwork quilt
over him and settled in. It was
usually a very happy patchwork quilt
with every color you could think of
in it. But it didn't seem so happy
The morning is a very sad time
if you have a divorce, Zachary
thought. Having a divorce meant
that you woke up in the morning
and your Daddy was not there
because now Daddy lived in another
house. Then Zachary thought of
Amy who was in school with him.
And he remembered how Amy's
divorce meant that she woke up in
the morning and her Daddy was
there but not her Mommy. He
wondered how grown-ups decided
which kind of divorce to give you,
the Mommy kind or the Daddy kind.
Then he tried to figure out, if he
could choose, which he would
rather have, the Mommy kind or the
Daddy kind. But it gave him a
headache just to think about it.
Zachary stared out the window.
"The morning is a very sad time
when you have a divorce," Zachary
said out loud.
"I know how you feel.
Sometimes the morning is very sad
for me too," said Mommy, standing
on the bottom step. Mommy was
wearing her blue T-shirt and the
dungarees Zachary liked best of all
— the ones with the bright purple
paint on them.
Mommy came and cuddled into
the big chair with Zachary and
pulled the patchwork quilt over her
Zachary whispered, "Mommy
tell me the story again about why I
got a divorce."
Mommy hugged Zachary very
hard and then said: It's not your
divorce Zachary, it's Daddy's and
mine. We decided we would be
happier if we lived apart from each
other. You mustn't think it's because
of anything you did wrong, because
it isn't. Daddy and I have always
loved you very much and always
will. And remember, you see Daddy
a lot and sleep over at his house a
Zachary snuggled closer to
"Do you think Daddy is
sometimes sad in the morning too?"
"Yes, I think he is," said
Mommy. "It's okay to be sad. This
is a very new thing that has
happened to us. But really, as time
passes, we'll all get used to the
divorce and we'll be less and less
and less sad."
"Let's go get some orange
juice," Zachary shouted and ran into
As he turned the pulley handle
to open the refrigerator, Zachary
pretended time was passing with
each turn. And with each turn, he
told himself that soon he would feel
less and less sad.
Reprinted by permission from Free
to Be ... You and Me, edited by
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS