This is not a new book, but it is new to us.
I’ve been on my own with the kids for 2 years now. At that time I tackled the issue the way I tackle any situation – with books. There are some helpful issues focussed books which aren’t really stories but an explanation of what happens when you live in two different places.
The ones I got are Living with mum and living with dad by Melanie Walsh and Two Homes by Claire Masurel (both Walker). Both were helpful in terms of getting the children to understand that while having two homes was new, having two parents wasn’t.
But I also wanted to make sure that they didn’t think that the situation was their fault. We got Two of Everything by the fantastic Babette Cole as you can always count on her to make any tricky issue funny. It’s about a brother and sister watching their parents bicker to the point of hating each other – so with their suggestion they end up having an unmarriage ceremony (complete with vicar and cake) and they then have two dream homes and the kids get too of everything.
It is light hearted and witty and the message – that the kids are not the problem – is buried under a layer of fun.
The issue of my separation is still, of course, present in the children’s minds. And because it was recently Valentine’s Day it seems to be in my daughter’s mind a lot. Why did we split up? Will I marry daddy again? Those sorts of questions have been asked. So I brought home Mum and Dad Glue.
Mum and Dad Glue is about a little boy who wants his parents back together and decides that he needs to find the right kind of glue to stick his parents back. When he is there he talks to Mavis, the shop owner, who gently explains that the glue won’t help – that is isn’t his fault and that families can live apart instead.
Mavis takes the boy’s concerns seriously and that’s how I feel about the book – that the issue is dealt with head on. It is brave in doing so.
The end page has the message all kids need to take away at the end:
But there’s one thing to remember, and this should mean a lot. My parents may be broken, but their love for me is not.
‘That’s like us isn’t it?’ said Jess. ‘OK.’
And of course the situation isn’t really OK – not for her. It’s OK for me and necessary for her. And the kids will always need a bit of reassurance about it – and not always at the time I may want to give it. So I’m glad that this will sit on the shelf, ready for that moment.