A Strange Family

Shawn opened his lunch bag and took out a sandwich and an apple. “Thank goodness,” he said.

Mandy was sitting across from him. “Is there not a lot of food at your house?” she asked.

“No, my foster brother is a goat and sometimes I get his lunch,” Shawn said.   He bit into his sandwich and smiled.   “This is really good.”

Mandy stared, her spoon frozen in the air. The pudding fell off and back into the container. Mandy put her spoon down. “A goat? Where does he sleep? What does he eat?”

Shawn finished chewing. He was already halfway through his sandwich. “Yeah, a goat. He has a big pile of straw in the corner of his room. He likes hay. Mom sends him to his school with a big lunch bag full of hay. Except when he gets my lunch.”

“Does that happen often?” Mandy asked.

Shawn sighed. “At least twice a week. George doesn’t mind. He just eats my lunch. But I don’t have the right kind of stomach for hay.”

“How do they get mixed up?” Mandy asked. “You have your name on your bag.”

“I think it’s Arnold. He’s my other foster brother. He’s a monkey and he’s always doing stuff like that.” Shawn scowled, then took another bite of his sandwich. He smiled again.

“A monkey?”

“Yeah. He has a sleeping shelf and he makes a nest on it out of straw and leaves and stuff. He likes salads. They both like to destroy my homework.” Shawn finished his sandwich and started eating his apple.

Mandy started unpacking her lunch. “Why do they do that?”

Shawn shrugged. “I think George just likes to chew on things. The teacher wouldn’t believe my brother ate my homework until mom sent a note.   I still had to redo it. He chews on my clothes if I don’t hide my laundry basket. He got in my room once and chewed up my teddy bear.”

Mandy gasped. “That’s terrible!”

“I know. Mom said that it’s not easy when you get new brothers, but that I need to be understanding, because it’s hard for them, too.” Shawn finished his apple and opened his lunch bag again.

Mandy unwrapped her sandwich and took a bite. “What did the monkey do to your homework?”

“Arnold?” Shawn started unwrapping a granola bar. “He ripped it in shreds and put it in the toaster. It started on fire. He’s not so bad though. He likes to brush my hair. It’s really relaxing.”

“Hmmmm.” Mandy ate some more of her sandwich. “Where do they go to school?”

“They take classes at the zoo. They don’t get any homework. It must be nice.” Shawn was looking through his lunch bag again. He’d already finished the granola bar.

Mandy ate another bite of her sandwich and then put it down with a frown.   “Why don’t they live at the zoo?”

Shawn brushed the cookie crumbs off his shirt. “No room. It’s okay though. I always wanted brothers.”

Mandy picked up her sandwich again. “So how long will they stay with your family?”

“Probably two years, until the zoo finishes its expansion. Mom says that we can still visit when they go.” Shawn tipped his bag upside down, but it was empty.   He sighed and started stuffing his trash inside.

“Here, have my pudding. I won’t eat it,” Mandy said.

Shawn grinned and took the pudding and plastic spoon. “Really? That’s awesome. Maybe I should have wished for sisters. You don’t chew holes in things or throw food at people for fun, right?”

Mandy laughed. “No, of course not! Do you?”

Shawn scraped the inside of the pudding up with his spoon and then reluctantly set it aside. “Well, no, but mom says I eat too fast.”

Mandy ate another bite of her sandwich. “I suppose we all have our good points and bad points.”

Shawn smiled and put the pudding cup and spoon into his bag. He stood up. “You’re probably right. Thanks Mandy. I’ll see you in class!”