The airport shuttle pulled up in front of the Penguino house after dropping off Edith and Falcon and Jeanie reluctantlygot out. She tried to just grab her suitcase and go in through the garage door in order to avoid seeing her mother, butCara was ready for this and gently but firmly directed Jeanie toward the front door.
Inside Jenny and Dorian were playing with Gloria in the nursery. Louisa had just dropped the toddler off and Jennyhad been pleasantly surprised to find the Gloria was very happy to see her mother."There’s still hope with you, isn’t there?" she said quietly.
When they heard the front door open Dorian stepped out of the nursery to greet his in-laws and daughter."Daddy!" Jeanie cried running to him for a hug."Hi, sweetheart!" Dorian replied with a smile.
Then Jenny nervously joined them."Hi, honey," she said hesitantly as Jeanie released Dorian. Jenny held out her arms slightly in the hopes of a hug, butJeanie pulled away."Did you have a good vacation?" Jenny asked, dropping her arms dejectedly."Yeah," Jeanie replied looking at the floor. Then suddenly she grabbed her suitcase and walked away, heading up thesteps to her room.
Jenny sighed, nothing had changed."Give her time," Dorian said. "After all, you were usually the hardest on her."Jenny nodded and walked back into the nursery where Gloria’s sunny smile helped cheer her up again.
Jeanie’s pattern of avoidance continued over the next few days with no sign of letting up. The incident that hurt Jennythe most occurred when Jeanie brought home her first A+ report card. She had run straight to Dorian to share thegood news.“Lookit Daddy!” Jeanie said, proudly displaying the report card.“That’s terrific, honey!” Dorian said clapping his hands.
Jenny, who had heard Dorian cheering from the other room, hurried in to add to the praise.“Hi honey! Did you have a good day at school?” she asked.
But Jeanie just shrugged, turned her back on her mother, and walked away to do her homework in her bedroom.
The fact that she couldn’t seem to get through to Jeanie and that Memphis wasn’t answering her phone calls wasreally starting to grate on Jenny so she distracted herself in the only way she knew how, by losing herself in dance.
Captain and Cara chose to escape the tension in the house through a different means, by visiting their newestgrandchildren frequently.“Captain you do know that she’s probably too little to learn how to fly right now,” Cara said.“Yes but her name is Luna! That means she’ll want to go to the moon someday and she’ll need to know how to fly todo it!” Captain replied as he lifted Luna even higher.“Yes, well Magellan said they just fed the babies so be careful or she’ll spit up on you.”
And soon a distraction for everyone presented itself in the form of a birthday party for Ferd and Mag’s two sets oftwins. Ferd and Mag were throwing a huge party to celebrate, inviting all of the extended family.
Although one nephew thought it might be best if he skipped the party to avoid his mother…“You sure you aren’t coming?” Viola asked as she and Robert stood at the door of the dorm. “You know our uncles willbe disappointed.”“Yeah, but it’s not the like kids will remember who all was at their toddler birthday when they grow up. I’ll go to theirnext one. It’s just too soon for me to be in the same room as my Mom,” Memphis replied.“Have it your way,” Robert said as he and Viola hurried out the door to catch a cab back to Antarctica.
The college crowd arrived a bit later than planned due to traffic so as soon as everyone was in the front door, Ferd andMag got the party underway. Emily and Ferd brought their twins to the cakes first.
“Yay! More cousins to play with!” Edith cried happily as Ferdinand helped Molly blow out her candles.
And in a poof of confetti Molly turned into a toddler.“She’s definitely going to be a handful,” Ferd said proudly as he looked at her mischievous face.(Molly is another neat, shy, active, serious, and very grouchy Penguino with a 10/1/9/4/1 Virgo personality.)
And soon there was another adorable toddler in the room.“You’re Mommy’s little sweetheart aren’t you darling?” Emily asked with a smile.(Ginny is a classic Penguino Pisces: 3/8/10/4/10 or rather sloppy, outgoing, very active, serious, and extremely nice.)
Emily took the two new toddlers off to change their clothes and fix their hair while Mag and Angelina brought their twinsto the cake.
Mag went first with Arthur as everyone cheered.
“Are you going to be a famous soccer player then?” Mag asked his grinning son once he had finished growing up.(Arthur is a Capricorn 10/3/1/10/8 or very neat, shy, lazy, playful, and nice.)
Finally it was Luna’s turn.“I can’t believe my babies are growing up,” Ang sighed as she rocked Luna one last time.
“And now it’s time for marathon toddler training isn’t it?” Ang asked as Luna landed back in her arms.“Yes they do get more precocious once they are toddlers. That’s for sure,” Jenny said quietly.(Luna is a Sagittarius and the most balance out of the group with a 5/3/10/7/6 personality or average neat, rather shy,very active, playful, and nice.)
While everyone grabbed slices of cake Emily returned with her two daughters to show off their toddler makeovers.
And Ang quickly followed suit with Arthur and Luna.
Now that they were cleaned up their parents let the toddlers down to go around and start to get to know their extendedfamily as everyone else socialized.Arthur crawled right over to Cara who gladly picked him up when he demanded her attention.“Well look at that, he’s certainly got your hair and eyes,” Captain said happily as he surveyed his youngest grandchild.“And your ears,” Cara said fondly.
In the kitchen Falcon had cornered his older brother and was demanding to know everything about college.“What are the dorms like? Are the girls hot? Have you been on any dates?”“Loud but fun. Very. And not yet,” Robert replied.“No dates? What’s the matter?”“Just settling into the school routine. I haven’t had any time for it yet,” Robert said. It wasn’t a complete lie. He wasbusy but the real reason was that even though most of the girls were good looking he hadn’t found any that could holdhis interest.
“Bummer,” Falcon said, taking his brother’s words at face value. “I can’t wait to join you guys in a semester! It seemslike it’ll be forever! And I had to leave all the hot girls behind on vacation…”“Oh? Sounds like a story I need to hear,” Robert said.Falcon glanced around to make sure their parents and grandparents were out of earshot before beginning, “So there’sthis local teen club on the island…”
Jeanie had been looking around the crowd throughout the party and she was getting frustrated. Finally she corneredher Dad. “Where’s Memphis?” she asked.“Ah…” Dorian had been worried about encountering this question. “He said he had too much work to make it tonight,honey.”“But everyone else came!” Jeanie cried. “It’s because Mom is here, isn’t it? Does that mean he won’t be at mybirthday or Gloria’s?”“I think he’ll make it to those parties,” Dorian said as he tried to calm her down.But Jeanie didn’t want to be comforted. “Mom ruins everything,” she grumbled and stomped away.
Jeanie found Edith helping Luna build with blocks on the brand new activity table. She sat down rather hard andstarted scribbling with a crayon.“Here Luna, try this block,” Edith said as she handed one over. Turning to Jeanie she asked, “What’s the matter?”“My brother didn’t come because Mom’s here,” Jeanie replied.“Oh,” was Edith’s response. “But he’ll be at Gloria’s party in a few days though right? So you can see him then.”“I don’t know,” Jeanie replied. “Maybe he won’t ever come back…”
From a corner of the living room Jenny tried not to let her daughter know that she had overheard. She felt terrible.“Why is fixing everything so hard?” she wondered.
While Ferd and Mag’s children had just become toddlers it was soon Gloria’s turn to leave her toddler years behind.
Dorian was a bit apprehensive about this particular birthday. Gloria’s toddler years had been very happy and Gloriahadn’t had to deal with Jenny’s early dancing lessons at all. Everything pointed to Jenny having learned her lesson buthe was still worried that Gloria becoming a child might lead to new confrontations. He was also a bit worried about theparty because, despite Jeanie’s fears, Memphis would be coming home. Dorian was concerned that Jenny mightcause a scene.
And he wasn’t the only one.“Well it’s my sister’s birthday so I have to go,” Memphis said to Viola as he paced around her room. “But I don’t reallywant to have to deal with my Mom yet either and I especially don’t want any fights at Gloria’s party because that justisn’t fair to her.”“We can always leave early if things start getting tense you know,” Viola replied. “And you know the whole extendedfamily will be there so it’ll be easy enough to keep away from your Mom if you want to.”“I really hope you’re right,” Memphis said.
As it turned out Jenny was still getting the cake ready when Memphis and the rest of the college crowd arrived so shewasn’t able to come and greet them. That didn’t mean there wasn’t a welcoming party, however.“MEMPHIS!!!”He heard a shout and was almost bowled over as Jeanie slammed into him for a hug.“Oof! Hey, kiddo!” he said as he ruffled her hair. Despite being nervous about being back in his family’s house hecouldn’t help but smile.
“You actually came!” Jeanie was grinning as she finally let go and Memphis instantly felt bad about missing the earlierparty.“Of course I came. I’d never miss either of my sister’s birthdays,” he said in an attempt to assure her that he’d be therefor her birthday later that year.“I thought Mom would keep you away,” Jeanie said, suddenly quiet.“Nah. Not today,” Memphis replied, trying to sound casual.
“Welcome home, son,” Dorian came in for a hug as well. “You are all just in time. Gloria is itching to get her fingersinto the icing on the cake.”“Better not keep her waiting then,” Memphis replied. If the party got underway quickly he might just avoid having totalk to his mother.
Since Gloria was the last toddler in the main house everyone decided that Captain should get to help her with her childbirthday and he happily brought her to the cake. Memphis took up a spot close by so that he could cheer Gloria on.
Gloria was all smiles as Captain helped her blow out the candles.
It was impossible for her not to be with so many people cheering for her.
“Alright. Now it’s all on you,” Captain said as he set Gloria down.
Gloria contemplated all of her guests for just a moment after Captain had put her on the floor.
Then suddenly there was a little girl standing where Gloria had been.“Wow! Cool!” Gloria said as she noticed how much taller she was now.“Happy Birthday Glory!” Jeanie cheered.
Since her clothes didn’t match Gloria quickly went upstairs to change before coming back down to her party. Jennyimmediately noticed that Gloria had not chosen to continue wearing green but this time she didn’t say anything.
Memphis was the first person Gloria sought out as soon as she was back downstairs.“Hi Memphis! You came to my party!” she said happily.“Of course I came,” Memphis said with a smile. “Big brothers aren’t allowed to miss parties just because they are atcollege.”“Is that why you aren’t around anymore?” Gloria asked. “You used to always play with me and then you were justgone.”“Yeah I left for college,” Memphis decided to skip over the messy details. “Sorry I couldn’t explain it to you better whenI left. You were too little.”“Will you still come visit though?” Gloria asked.
Memphis hesitated for only a fraction of a second before replying, “Yep! Or you can come visit me! And before youknow it you’ll be in college too!”“That sounds fun!” Gloria answered. “Hey want to play a game now?”“Of course,” Memphis laughed, relieved by the change in topic, as he put out his hands for a game of Red Hands.
When she had soundly beaten Memphis at Red Hands (partly because Memphis was making it easy for her to do so)Gloria decided to go around and meet the other people who had come to her party.“You look familiar. Who are you?” she asked.“I’m your cousin, Viola. I’m in college with your brother,” Viola replied.“That’s cool! Will I get to visit you too then?”“Of course,” Viola replied.
While everyone else was socializing, Jenny had retreated to the kitchen under the pretense of washing up used platesand cups. Dorian, as usual, quickly found her.“What’s the matter, Jenny?” he asked.“Nothing,” Jenny replied quickly, turning away from watching Memphis to look at Dorian.
Dorian just looked at her quietly until she relented.“He’s ignoring me,” she finally said and Dorian understood that she was talking about Memphis.“Well what did you expect?” Dorian asked. “I’m guessing he doesn’t want to make a scene and ruin Gloria’s party anymore than you want to do that.”“Yes but I thought he might at least say hi…”“He probably doesn’t know how to do that given the way he left. I know it’s hard but you should probably just give himhis space today. If he sees that you aren’t looking for a fight that might make it easier the next time you have to talk.”
Jenny sighed and hung her head, “You are probably right as usual.”“Come on, Jenny, it’s your daughter’s birthday. Try to have some fun at least,” Dorian suggested.“Okay,” Jenny said as she tried to put a smile back on her face.
Oblivious to the fact that her mother was upset, Gloria was completely enjoying getting to know her older cousinsbetter. Jade had started a smutsle in the living room, remembering that it was a family tradition, and Gloria grabbedthe first person she could find to help teach her how to do it.“Well first you have to learn how to find the beat,” Robert said with a smile. “Here. Let me help you with that.” And hedanced Gloria around the room much to her delight.
Around the dancers the party was really getting underway as everyone started visiting with each other.
“Having fun?” Memphis asked when he ran into Jeanie again.“Sorta. I was wondering if you’d play ‘Don’t Wake the Llama’ with me? I don’t really want to dance,” Jeanie replied.“Of course,” Memphis nodded. He understood completely.
Edith also joined in and it wasn’t long before Gloria had dropped into a chair to see what her siblings were doing.
“Okay so I’m supposed to put this stick on top of the pile, right?” Gloria asked.“Yep! And careful because it’s tricky to put it on without knocking the whole pile down,” Memphis replied.
With Memphis’ coaching Gloria got the hang of the game quickly.“Nice one Glory!” Edith cheered as Gloria successfully added her stick to the pile.
As everyone else was socializing Jenny hung back. Dorian had told her to try and enjoy herself but she was havingtrouble doing that.
Instead she kept her distance and watched her children play together thinking about how she should be sitting at theboard with them. “At least they seem fairly happy, even if they are avoiding me,” she thought.
Jenny’s observations did not go unnoticed, however, and while Memphis carefully avoided making eye contact with hismother he couldn’t help but feel guilty about it.
The feeling of guilt continued all through the taxi ride back to the university later that evening.“What is wrong?” Viola finally asked once they had arrived back at the dorm. “You didn’t get into a fight with yourmother at the party so what is bothering you now?”
“I just feel really guilty,” Memphis replied. “I guess I was hoping that everything would just be fine when I did finally goback but instead Jeanie is clearly unhappy, my mother is quiet, and Gloria wanted to know why I was never aroundanymore. And I can’t help but feel that it’s entirely my fault.”
“It is not your fault,” Viola said putting her hands on her hips and reminding Memphis of his aunt whenever she was ina debating mood. “Your mother is the one that pushed everyone into the contest and then was unreasonable when itturned out that her demands were unrealistic. You have nothing to feel bad about.”Memphis sighed, “I abandoned them and they still need me.”“Your sisters both need to learn to stand on their own,” Viola replied. “Actually, I take that back. Jeanie certainlyknows how to stand her ground and I got the impression that Gloria won’t have any problems with that either. Theymiss you, yes. But you didn’t abandon them.”“I guess,” Memphis replied, not looking convinced.
Viola sighed, “Look Memphis. It was time for all of us to come to college and finally have a little bit of independence.You especially, since your mother pretty much kept you under her thumb at all times. Now I know you’ve had somefun since we got here. Try and focus on that and give the thing with your mother time to work itself out.”“You’re right, as usual Vi,” Memphis replied. “How did you get so wise?”“Not wise. Just good at talking and giving pep speeches. It’s something you pick up when you are the daughter of apolitician.”
And Viola really was right. When Memphis wasn’t worried about what was going on at home he was truly enjoyingbeing a college student. He and his cousins had quickly discovered many of the more popular haunts on campus. Infact, their very first night in the dorms they had taken off to explore campus and ended up at the Llamarama, thecampus bar.
Everyone had had a great time that evening. Spacely and Pearl were excited to be able to spend time with theirsignificant others.
Or had a round of drinks to celebrate their new found freedom.
Viola had been the first to discover that there was a back game room as well and once she showed Memphis they hadspent the rest of the evening trying to best each other’s scores in pinball.
Then at the end of their first week in college Memphis had received a call from his Aunt Vicky.“So your Grandma tells me that you’ve finally move to college,” she said.“Yeah, we got here a little over a week ago,” Memphis replied.“Awesome! So are you settling in okay?”
“Yeah. I think I’ve finally figured out how to navigate campus.”“Good! Wouldn’t want you getting lost on your way to class! Anyway, I wanted to give you a call because Bella and Iwant to invite you and all the rest of our nieces and nephews over to the frat house this weekend to celebrate yourarrival at the Académie and the fact that Emperor and King just graduated. Think you can make it?”“Yeah! That sounds awesome!” Memphis replied.“Great! See you Saturday around 9 then!” Vicky said before hanging up the phone.
Bella was the first to greet them when the arrived at the Flying Penguinos Frat that Saturday.“Hi! I can’t believe you guys are actually here!”Memphis laughed, “Ready to be done place holding?”“Well Vicky and I will be here until the end of the year when you lot can all finally move in. But yes, it’ll be nice to finallygraduate.”Memphis nodded, “So what exactly are we going to have to do to join up then?“Oh you’ll see,” Bella said with a grin. “But don’t worry I promise it won’t be too painful. Mostly toga parties and writingmy final term paper. Speaking of, let’s get round one of initiation underway. King? Turn up the music!”
Everyone later looked back and said that it was an awesome first party. Bella had outfitted the house with everything apleasure sim (or her friends) could want.
So some guests got to let out their wild and crazy side for the first time.
One of the highlights of the party, however, was when Emperor dropped to his knees and asked his long time girlfriendSuzanne the cheerleader to marry him. Pearl especially got all choked up when she heard what had happened.
Once the news had spread, everyone got just a bit rowdier in celebration and soon a slap dance party was underway.
As the party wound down in the early hours of the morning, King and Emperor each made the phone call to head hometo Antarctica, amusingly both growing up in soccer outfits.
And the freshman headed out for a cup of coffee and an early breakfast (all the bubbles and juice had sure made themhungry!) before heading home to sleep away the rest of the day.
Over the next few months things settled into more of a routine for the seven cousins.
They learned how to deal with mascot fights and burned cafeteria food.
Pearl and Blaze and Spacely and Ginger were hardly seen outside of each others’ company.
Which meant that George and Jade spent a lot of time together while their siblings were otherwise occupied.“I don’t think I understand the family sim mentality,” Jade said as they sat in the common room one night. “I mean,there are so many other people to meet and be friends with here. And lots of things to see and do, but they just seemto stay in their own little worlds.”“Yeah,” George replied. “But they are just enjoying being away from our parents. Things will cool off eventually andthey’ll start meeting other people. For now we should probably just let them enjoy it.”“I’m sure your right,” Jade nodded. “Although if they get married and are anything like my Mom and Dad they willcontinue to be really focused on each other for the rest of their lives…”
When she wasn’t spending time with George, Jade made lots of new friends and was the first to complete all therequirements to join the Flying Penguinos Frat.
Viola and Jade also hung out a lot together and could frequently be found working out at the campus gym.
Robert, meanwhile, was all over the place and often drove a few of his dorm mates crazy with his pleasure sim ways.“Seriously do you have to do that first thing in the morning?” Memphis asked. “I can hear it through the ceiling in myroom downstairs.”“Oops! Sorry! I didn’t think about that…” Robert replied.
And Memphis enjoyed finally being able to do whatever he wanted to do, which meant spending a lot of his free timeplaying whatever game he felt like playing and NOT dancing.
Of course they were all studying hard as well. It was not uncommon for a group of them to meet up at the library whenthey needed someplace quieter to work (although Robert had yet to come along).
It was about midway through the semester, when Memphis, Viola, Jade, and George were leaving the library after aday of studying, that a notice board caught Memphis’ eye.“Think you are the master of SSX2? Have you beaten everyone in your circle of friends and family? If this sounds likeyou then you should join the SSX2 tournament competition at Games of Glory!!! Prizes will be given out for first,second, and third place. We are taking sign ups now for the tournament in March.” Memphis read aloud.
“Sounds like fun,” George said. “Too bad SSX2 isn’t my game.”“It’s yours though, Memphis,” Viola said as she looked over the flyer. “You should totally sign up. I bet you’d do well.”“I think I will,” Memphis said, reaching out and ripping off one of the info cards attached to the bottom of the flyer. “I’llgive them a call tomorrow to sign up.”
Makoto, the leader of Games of Glory, assured Memphis when he called that there were still spaces open in thetournament, although they were filling up fast.“It’s going to be a huge competition. The SSX2 tournament is always the biggest one we host every year. It’ll be niceto see another newcomer. Good luck with all the practicing!” Makoto said.“Thanks! I’m looking forward to it!” Memphis replied.
For the rest of the fall semester, Memphis spent most of his free time practicing with his cousins occasionally joininghim.
And in what seemed like no time at all, the semester had come to an end.“I can’t believe we all made the dean’s list!” Pearl exclaimed when they got together to celebrate at the Llamarama.
“Oh? I’m only surprised about Robert making it,” Viola replied. “Kidding, kidding,” she added as Robert punched heron the shoulder.“What? I studied! I just take more breaks while I’m working than the rest of you,” he said.“Or you took easier classes,” George teased.
“Or I’m just smarter,” Robert replied as he turned and sat down at the bar. “Now come on. I’ll get this round of drinkswith my new scholarship money. But someone else gets to buy the next!”“Deal,” Memphis replied as they all gathered around to order a drink for a toast.
While the semester had gone well for Memphis back at the main house tension was still in the air. Try as she might tobe civil and understanding with Jeanie it seemed to Jenny that her middle child was determined to either pick fights orpretend that she didn’t exist.
And it did not take Gloria much time beyond her child birthday to notice.“How come you and Mom are always either fighting or not talking to each other?” Gloria asked Jeanie one Saturdaymorning as they played with the doll house in Jeanie’s room.Jeanie hesitated, “It’s a long story.”“I want to know. Cause I don’t understand.”
Jeanie sighed and began to relate the whole story as she remembered it.When she was done Gloria was silent for a moment and then she said, “So that’s why Memphis doesn’t really come tovisit even though he said he’d try to?”“Yeah,” Jeanie said, a hint of bitterness in her voice. “He and Mom don’t talk much either anymore and they alwaysgot along better than me and Mom.”“But Mommy’s not like that now,” Gloria continued. “She’s never done any of that to me.”“Well that’s cause you are lucky and there isn’t another dance competition,” Jeanie replied.
“Oh,” Gloria said. “Do you think you and Mommy will forgive each other and get along soon?”Jeanie snorted, “Not likely.”
Gloria did not ask anymore questions after that but played silently for a bit. Suddenly she stopped, “I’m getting hungry,Jeanie. I’m going to go get some cereal, okay?”“Sure. I’ll come down later once I’m dressed and then we can play Don’t Wake the Llama or have a snowball fight orsomething.”Gloria smiled, “Sounds good!”
But when she got downstairs Gloria didn’t go to the kitchen. Instead she sought out her father. Dorian was in theliving room reading the newspaper and Gloria sat down next to him on the couch. She was silent for a bit, which wasrather unusual.“What is it, Pumpkin?” he asked as he closed his paper.“I asked Jeanie why she and Mommy are always mean to each other,” Jeanie said.“Oh,” Dorian’s mind went into overdrive. What had Jeanie said? Would it drive a wedge between Gloria and Jenny aswell? “And what did she say?” he asked.
Gloria related the story as she had heard it from Jeanie and Dorian found himself gradually relaxing. It was clear thatJeanie was angry and upset but that she was also blaming herself as much as she was blaming Jenny.“She says if she hadn’t run off the stage then Memphis wouldn’t have had to leave,” Gloria said, finishing her story.“But I think they are all being silly and I want them to be friends again. Cause Mommy’s always trying to be really niceand Jeanie shouldn’t always be mean back.”“Leave it to kids to see the whole situation more clearly than everyone else sometimes,” Dorian thought. Out loud hesaid, “Sweetie they just need time, okay? They hurt each other pretty bad and that makes it difficult sometimes to say‘I’m sorry.’ Things are getting better. I promise. Now Jeanie had a lot of the story right but I want to make sure youunderstand all of it, okay?” And he proceeded to fill in the information that Jeanie had missed.
“Now I know that wasn’t a very happy story but I hope you understand what happened better now,” Dorian said whenhe had finished relating the tale.“I do. I still think they are being stupid though,” Gloria replied.Dorian couldn’t help but laugh as he gave Gloria a hug, “I know. But I think they will come around in the end. Now,are you hungry? Because I think pancakes sound like a good idea for breakfast. What about you?”“Pancakes sound great! Will you make them with Mickey Mouse ears again?”“Of course!” Dorian replied as they headed toward the kitchen.
After that morning Gloria didn’t ask about the tension between Jenny and Jeanie again and Dorian thought that shehad accepted what he had said about giving her sister and mother time to work things out themselves. But after a fewdays he began to notice a pattern in what he had assumed at first were innocent coincidences.Jeanie and Gloria were fairly close, perhaps not a close as Memphis and Jeanie, but Jeanie was always willing to playwith her younger sister. Previously they had stuck to playing with the toys in the nursery or in Jeanie’s room butsuddenly Gloria was asking if Jeanie would play chess or Don’t Wake the Llama, toys that were in the middle of theliving room.
And whenever Jenny happened to walk past the room it was becoming more and more common for Gloria to ask ifJenny wanted to join them. Sometimes Jenny did and sometimes she didn’t. When she did, however, Jeanie wouldfrequently just play for another turn or two before coming up with some excuse to leave the room.
Inevitably Gloria would look disappointed as Jeanie walked away, but only for a moment before she hitched a smileback on her face and continued playing with Jenny.
Then there was the evening when Dorian was tucking Gloria in after reading her a bedtime story. Gloria was alreadyasleep and Dorian stooped to straighten up a pile of books on the floor before leaving the room. His eyes were drawnto the one book that seemed out of place and he had to smile to himself as he read its title: A Guide to Couple’sCounseling. Clearly Gloria was trying to help heal the rift between her sister and mother.Since Gloria’s efforts didn’t seem to be causing any harm Dorian decided not to say anything. After all, perhapscontinuing to force Jenny and Jeanie to be in each other’s presence would actually work.
Despite Gloria’s efforts, however, Jeanie and Jenny weren’t much closer to reconciling by the time Edith and Jeanie’steen birthdays rolled around.“I can’t believe today is your birthday,” Jeanie said to Edith as they played chess together. The birthday party wouldstart in a few hours when Edith’s father, Scott, returned from work but Jeanie had been allowed to come over early sothe two best friends could spend the day playing.“Me neither,” Edith replied. “It’ll be awesome to finally be a teen though.”
“Yeah…” Jeanie said contemplating the board. “I just hope Mom doesn’t get weird again or anything as soon as I’molder. She hasn’t been pushy at all since the dance competition but I just don’t trust her.”Edith shrugged, “Even if she does it won’t be all that long before we’re off to college. And you can always hang outhere so you don’t have to be around her if you want.”“Yeah,” Jeanie nodded, brightening at the thought of both suggestions. “I’ll be bigger and more independent and I canalways leave just like Memphis did if Mom gets too crazy again.”“Exactly,” Edith replied.
The two girls finished up the game of chess and then played with some of the toys in Edith’s room for awhile until Scottgot home. When Edith heard the car door she ran outside to greet her father.“There’s my birthday princess!” Scott said as he dance Edith around the yard. “Ready to grow up?”“Yes!” Edith giggled. “Mom says everyone should be here soon!”“I’m sure they will be,” Scott replied.
Marla was right and soon the extended Penguino clan was gathered in the dinning room waiting for Edith to blow outher candles. Edith grinned at all her guests and then made her wish.
A few seconds later and she was a gangly teenager instead of a little girl.“Sweet!” Edith said surveying her new form as soon as she had grown. “Although the colors on this aren’t quite right.”Behind her Robert noted how short the skirt was on her outfit and flinched. “I’m going to have to start threatening tobeat boys up now aren’t I?” he wondered.(Edith rolled family with the LTW to reach her Golden Anniversary.)
Just to his right Scott grimaced, suddenly feeling very old. “I am so not ready for my baby girl to be a teenager,” hethought.
Edith took the first opportunity to change and came back downstairs dressed again in her favorite color. She was alsowearing jeans instead of a skirt, much to the relief of her father and oldest brother.
The first person she sought out once she had rejoined the party was Jeanie.“So how do I look?” she asked.“Lots taller and really pretty,” Jeanie replied. “This is so weird though. I wish we could have had a joint birthday party!”
“I know! Me too!” Edith replied bending over to give Jeanie a hug. “But you’ll be a teen tomorrow and then we canreally have some fun!”“Yeah,” Jeanie said.Jeanie still found the rest of the party awkward though. It was strange to be so much shorter and younger than herbest friend and she didn’t like it at all.
Memphis, being one of the youngest of the college aged crowd understood and did his best to distract Jeanie duringthe party. She was certainly happy to see him and they even had a good time “dancing” as Jeanie road around onMemphis’ feet.“Since I’ll be too big to do this tomorrow,” Jeanie had said when she asked, trying to justify the fact that she actuallywanted to do something related to dancing.
Edith was enjoying being the center of attention, although this had its disadvantages as well.“Welcome to the teenage years, sis!” Falcon said as he gave Edith a noogie.“Come on, knock it off!” Edith cried. “It’s my birthday!”“Okay, okay,” Falcon replied. “But tomorrow all bets are off!”“Maybe I’ll just get you first,” Edith answered.“I’d like to see you try.”
In all it was a good party and everyone stayed fairly late into the night.
Despite the late evening, Jeanie woke up bright and early the next morning, excited about finally growing up. The firstthing she did was go wake up Gloria.“Happy Birthday!” Gloria said as she got out of bed. “What’s up?”“Since it’s my last day as a kid I wanted to get in as much play as possible. So…snow ball fight?” she asked.“You’re on!” Gloria said, hurrying to get dressed before running outside.
While Jeanie was enjoying her last moments as a child Jenny was out on a mission. It was high time that she tookcare of one of the heiress duties she had been neglecting and find a mate for Tilapia the cat.“It’ll be a great birthday present too,” she said to herself as she headed into the pet store.
There were numerous pets to choose from and Jenny had a difficult time deciding. The clerk happily showed herkittens, adults, and elders.
Until finally Jenny found the perfect cat.“Oh you’re gorgeous!” she said as she cuddled the spotted male. “Does he have a name?”“Yes, we’ve been calling him Koko,” the clerk replied. “He’s quite sweet.”“I’ll take him,” Jenny replied.
“Jeanie? Gloria?” Jenny called once she was home. “I have a surprise for you!”
Gloria as usual was the first to arrive on the scene. Jeanie followed reluctantly, wondering if she was going to bereceiving another itchy green wool dress as an early birthday present.
“I want you to meet our new family member,” Jenny said as soon as both girls had arrived.“Oh wow! Cool!” Gloria squealed as she hurried to pet the new cat.“I thought he would make a nice birthday surprise,” Jenny said with a small smile.
Jeanie was silent for a moment, surprised by the gesture. Then she moved forward to join Gloria in petting the newcat. “Does he have a name?” she asked.“The clerk said his name was Koko but you’re welcome to change it if you want,” Jenny replied.“No Koko is perfect,” Jeanie said with a smile. She hesitated for a moment before adding, “Thanks Mom.”
Although Jeanie hadn’t made eye contact when she said it, Jenny suddenly felt more elated than she had in a longtime.
Jenny still had plenty to be nervous about as the day progressed since Memphis would be visiting again for the firsttime since Gloria’s birthday party. She dreaded the thought of him ignoring her for another evening, so when it wasabout time for him to arrive Jenny hurried to busy herself in the kitchen, giving herself an excuse not to go and greetMemphis.
But she was thwarted.“Mommy! Memphis is here!” Gloria raced into the kitchen from the living room where she had been watching out thewindow for the college kids to arrive.Jenny smiled, “Thanks Glory.” She was about to offer an excuse about why she couldn’t come greet her son whenGloria grabbed her hand and pulled her out of the kitchen.“Come on! Let’s go say hi!”
Dorian was greeting Memphis when Jenny and Gloria arrived, “Welcome back! One semester gone already! That’s sohard to believe! Congrats on the 4.0, by the way. We’re very proud of you.”“Yes, we are,” Jenny said quietly.
Both Dorian and Memphis turned to look at Jenny while Gloria tried to slip inconspicuously into the background.Memphis and Jenny stared at each other for a moment before he quietly said, “Thanks.”
Tentatively, remembering how Jeanie had pulled away so many months ago, Jenny opened her arms for a hug.Memphis hesitated for a moment, he couldn’t really remember his mother ever offering to hug him.
But then he stepped toward Jenny and gave her a quick hug. As he pulled away he realized that suddenly thingsseemed a little less awkward between them.
Behind them Dorian looked down at Gloria who beamed up at him trying her best to look innocent. He returned hersmile, trying hard not to laugh. “I can’t believe she actually got them to interact after all this time,” he thought.
The moment quickly passed as Jeanie arrived at the front door as well and gave Memphis a tight but quick hug.Stepping back she said, “Okay everyone is here! I’m ready to blow out my candles!”Memphis laughed, “In a bit of a hurry, Jeanie?”“Yes!” she cried before grabbing his hand and starting to pull him toward the kitchen.
Soon everyone had gathered and Jeanie looked around at the crowd with satisfaction. Being younger than Edith foronly one day had seemed unbearable and she couldn’t wait to be as tall or as independent as her best friend hadseemed the night before.
As she stepped up to the cake Jenny cheered from the corner of the kitchen, “Happy Birthday, Jeanie!”
Jeanie pretended to ignore her but couldn’t help but smile as she made a wish.
Once the candles were out she spun around, feeling the sparkles overtake her.
And suddenly she was much taller. “Aww, sweet! Check out this body!” she said with excitement.(Jeanie rolled romance with the LTW to be a Professional Party Guest.)
Like Scott the night before Dorian tried not to shudder. “I am going to have to get a baseball bat aren’t I?” hepondered.“Daddy? Will you dance with me?” Gloria asked interrupting his thoughts.“Of course, honey,” Dorian replied. “At least she’s going to be little for awhile yet,” he thought.
While her transition outfit hadn’t been bad, Jeanie just didn’t really care for pants and so as soon as she had finishedher cake she hurried upstairs to change. Dorian, in a wise attempt to avoid a repeat scene from Jeanie’s last birthdayhad taken her shopping a few weeks prior to pick out an outfit and while he wasn’t thrilled with the skirt he had at leastmanaged to convince her to buy something that was a decent length.
As soon as she was changed Jeanie made a bee-line for Edith.“So how do I look?” Jeanie asked.“Gorgeous as always,” Edith replied. “Pink is a good color on you and I like how you did your make-up.”“Thanks!” Jeanie said with a grin. There was a pause and then, “So I was thinking…” she gestured for Edith to lean incloser.
“We should totally go out soon to celebrate being teens! And if we aren’t allowed I say we sneak out!”Edith grinned, “Sounds good to me!”
Jeanie had a big smile on her face as she moved away to socialize with the rest of her guests. Yes, being a teen wasgoing to be awesome!