Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. Family
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First of all I never even heard of Farbrook. And second of all, I'm not usually left out of important family decisions. (1.3)
What exactly is going on in Margaret's family that such a big decision was made and executed while Margaret was away at summer camp? Margaret suspects it's to get her away from Grandma Sylvia, but based on how much she sees her grandma throughout the book, we're not convinced. We think this just might be a classic case of adults making a decision without their child's input. What do you think?
My mother and father didn't plan for me to be an only child, but that's the way it worked out, which is fine with me because this way I don't have anybody around to fight. (1.8)
But having someone around to fight is the best part of siblinghood, Margaret…
Now that's my point about my mother. I mean, if she understands so much about me then why couldn't she understand that I had to wear loafers without socks? I told her, "Nancy says nobody in the sixth grade wears socks on the first day of school!" (4.8)
As understanding as moms (and dads) can be, there are some things they won't ever get.
"Well, my mother's parents, who live in Ohio, told her they didn't want a Jewish son-in-law. If she wanted to ruin her life that was her business. But they would never accept my father for her husband." (5.66)
Margaret doesn't seem to lose much sleep over this, but we imagine it's got to be difficult to know that you have grandparents somewhere out there who have chosen not to know you because they don't approve of your dad. Do you think this impacts how Margaret feels about family in general?
"This little girl is traveling alone. Please keep an eye on her. It's her first trip."
"Don't worry, lady," the bus driver told my mother. Then my mother waved to me. I made a face at her and looked the other way. (8.8-9)
Margaret's only eleven going on twelve, remember. It's easy to forget Margaret's actual age because she's so focused on growing up, but here Margaret's mom helps us remember that Margaret is still really young and still needs her family, annoying though they may be sometimes.
I was glad my mother wasn't a chaperone. It's bad enough trying to act natural at a dance, but when your mother's there it's impossible. I know because Mrs. Wheeler was a chaperone and Nancy was a wreck. The chaperones were dressed funny, like farmers or something. I mean, Nancy's mother wore dungarees, a plaid shirt and a big straw hat. I didn't blame Nancy for pretending not to know her. (10.20)
There are plenty of times when Nancy makes us cringe, but in this moment, we cringe on Nancy's behalf. Nobody wants their mom hanging around at their school dance dressed up as a farmer.
This year I discovered something really strange. I discovered that my mother was sending a Christmas card to her parents in Ohio. I found out because I was looking through the pile of cards one day when I had a cold and stayed home from school. There it was—just like that. The envelope said Mr. and Mrs. Paul Hutchins, and that's them. My grandparents! I didn't mention anything about it to my mother. I had the feeling I wasn't supposed to know. (12.4)
This is a pretty big secret for Margaret's mom to keep, isn't it? But it's also probably a pretty scary move for her to make. What if her parents reject her all over again? Ugh.
My father hollered. "I can't believe you, Barbara! After fourteen years you sent them a Christmas card?"
"I was feeling sentimental. So I sent a card. I didn't write anything on it. Just our names." (20.4-5)
Religion has made a righteous mess in Margaret's family. Her mom's parents stopped speaking to her when she married Margaret's dad, all because he isn't the same religion as them. It makes sense that feelings run high when her dad finds out her mom wrote to them.
I ran out of the kitchen and stormed up the stairs to my room. I slammed the door. I hated it when they had a fight in front of me. Didn't they know how awful they sounded? I could still hear them, shouting and carrying on. (20.11)
Margaret's right—fighting is pretty awful. But sometimes people disagree. How could Margaret's parents have handled this differently, or are they being reasonable?
"I want to show them how well I've managed for fourteen years without their help. And I want them to see my wonderful family." (21.4)
We don't buy this explanation for a second. We think that no matter how old you are, sometimes you just really want to see your mom and dad. It's too bad Margaret's mom can't say as much, though.
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