Develop a Character: Chaddy

by Amelia Kanan

Chaddy was 7 when his mom decided she couldn’t handle being a mom. She gave him to her younger sister Kate, who was 23.

She told her, “Here. Wash him, feed him and love him because I know he deserves it but I just can’t do all those things for him.”

She was kind enough not to say this in front of her son. Still, Chaddy wasn’t dumb. But, since it was his mom – he couldn’t help but love her. Since he couldn’t be angry, he decided at 7-years-old that people loved in different ways. No more nor less than each other – just different. His mom loved from far away. His aunt-mom Kate loved up close. He would have to love his mom from far away and love Kate up close. This was hard because even though Kate was so much more fun than his mom and her breath smelled much better than hers too- he couldn’t help but want his mom right next to him – always.

He loved Kate. She never cried or if she did, she never did it in front of him. His mom had always cried in front of him. She would ask him to hug her or tell her a funny story. While these were the only times his mom seemed to like being around him, he hated it. It made him feel scared and guilty that he couldn’t do anything. She would say she was all alone. This confused him since she was never actually alone. Not only did she have him, she also had lots of friends who were always over. Chaddy would fall asleep to the sound of everyone laughing and wake up to people sleeping on the couch or on the floor in his room. Everyone always looked different when they were sleeping. They looked much smaller. He liked his mom’s friends – a lot. But, sometimes he would get mad at them. He wished he could make his mom as happy as they did.

Living with his Aunt Kate was cozy. He went to sleep at the same time every night and he always ate dinner in the same place. He liked that. He also liked Kate’s boyfriend Tim.

When he was 8 and a half, Kate married Tim. Chaddy got to be in the wedding. Since Kate’s dad was dead and Chaddy had been the most important man in her life, other than Tim, she had asked him to walk her down the aisle. Chaddy was so excited. He couldn’t wait to have his mom see him dressed up and doing something very important, very grown up. He wanted to make her feel like she was missing out on something really good. He wanted her to hurt enough to take him back.

The Monday before the wedding, Kate told him that his mom wasn’t coming to the wedding. She had called to tell her that she didn’t want to ruin such a special day. Eight months before, she had called to say that she couldn’t come to Chaddy’s birthday party because of the same reason. She always called Kate when Chaddy was at school. He was scared he forgot her voice. She was really good at loving from far away.

To ease the pain, Chaddy pretended that his mom was with him. At the wedding, he walked down the aisle tall and proud, imaging his mom was in her seat. He decided not to make pretend eye contact with her. #1: She didn’t deserve to be a part of this moment and #2: He didn’t want to see her cry. He felt handsome and strong on the outside which made it easier to ignore his weak insides.

Chaddy hated weekends – they seemed empty. School wasn’t easy nor was it always fun but there was something about it, that he really loved. When he wasn’t there, life just felt boring. His teacher was nice but he didn’t believe her. When she smiled at him, her eyes looked like they wanted to say something else. He didn’t like that. She didn’t look like that when she looked at everyone else. He had lots of friends despite feeling different from everyone else. They all had the same kind of families: mom and dad or divorced mom and dads with step-parents, or 2 moms or 2 dads. No one else had an aunt-mom and uncle-dad. It made him feel like he didn’t look like anyone else. Like his pants fit differently or his coat wasn’t the right color. He felt badly for the kids who didn’t have friends because in a way, they deserved it more or something.

Chaddy loved girls. It wasn’t like he wanted to be one or be like them or even play with them. He didn’t how to interact with them but he couldn’t help but be in awe of them. He didn’t understood why all his friends said girls were weird or play mean tricks on them. Girls were pretty and gentle. So considerate. You could see it in the way they turned the pages of their books or zipped their pencil cases. They were so careful, as if everything could feel their touch. He liked that.