Tammy is a rotten child. She’s all trick and no treat. She’s all spice and no sugar or things nice. She’s the kid who gives you the middle finger just because she has a middle finger to show you. When you cry, she laughs. When you are feeling down, she tells you why. And if there’s bad behavior to be found, she is behind it.
Tammy isn’t actually real. She’s a fable, an archetype, a legend, and a myth.
But Tammy is a part of our family. In that sense she is very real.
She comes up in conversation all the time. Paul will say, “I don’t want to eat breakfast– I just want to eat candy all the time.” And I’ll respond, “Well, we tried that with Tammy. You know how that turned out.” Or, when talking about behavior at school, we’ll talk about what kind of student Tammy was before she dropped out and took up a life of crime.
Sometimes we imagine what it’d be like if we were driving down the freeway and we saw her, picked her up, and brought her back into the family.
And Kristen and I have joked about how awesome it’d be to actually hire an actress to play Tammy, see her on the side of the road, and pick her up. Instantly, all of our kids would need therapy.
Fables are Powerful
I’m a little shy about saying that you need a Tammy in your house. I don’t know if your kids need an archetype of all things bad kid. She just kind of appeared one day as I was driving down the road and frustrated with some bratty car behavior.
But I do know that a good family fable is both powerful and functional. Tammy is part of what makes us McLane’s. She’s our inside joke and a full-fledged family member. At the same time the legend of Tammy is a great way to have an example of a bad kid in the house without it being an actual bad kid that you have to label.
Sure, she’ll come up in therapy later in life. Tammy will likely cost me tens of thousands of dollars in that regard. But, if that’s the worst thing about our parenting… I’ll take it.