Essay for English Comp: What is Family?

Alder Bough
English Composition
Ms. Wingfield. Room 242, Period 2
Unit 1: Section 2 – Definition/Personal Narrative
Essay Prompt: What is family?


Not bad! The tone is a tad informal for an academic essay, and the focus seemed to waffle a bit. Nevertheless, your passion comes through in an authentic voice to compensate for these shortcomings. — Ms. W.

p.s. Your aunt’s fruitcake sounds amazing!


Shared Space, Shared Dream

When you’re a teen, especially if you’re a loner and a guy, like me, then everybody assumes that you’re not interested in family.

What do they think you’re interested in? The guitar? Blues, jazz, and metal? Old worn out songs and tired cans of coke that have lost the fizz? Or strawberry fizz cupcakes and weird and wild songs that keep running through your head?

That’s so yesterday.


I am a teen. I’m a loner and a guy. And you know what I’m all about? Don’t tell me it’s corny–this, I know. Don’t tell me I’m outta touch with my generation, my gender, my stereotypes. I don’t give a plum. I care about what I care about regardless of the cool factor.

I’m here to write it out loud: I care about family.

And not just any family, my family. I wrote it: I care about my family.

What is it, anyway, family? It’s not just who I’m related to through blood. Why limit family to genes?

Family are those I share space with. My mom and dad–painters, both.


My sister, talking into mirrors all night through and into the morning so that when she talks to friends, she’ll know just where to put the emphasis to show she’s sincere.


My aunt onezero who forms a bridge between someplace else and here, always listening to voices of those we can’t see but who, because of her, become my family, too.


We might not be that close due to our individual natures. Our projects keep us pretty busy. And to tell the truth, we’re all a little nuts.

But does that matter?

What matters is the space we give each other to be who we are.


My dad’s a loner like me so he gets my need to cut out by myself sometimes. Loners give something unique to families–we know how to be in the same space without getting into each other’s face, you might say. Because of this, all of us here have learned that it’s not the hours of conversation or playing cards or playing chess or working out together that make us family. It’s home–it’s living our lives here, each of us, doing our own things, but doing them in proximity. Doing them at home, as part of this family. I’m not making sense to anybody but me.


Consider my great aunt Sugar: she shows this better than anybody. Sugar does her own thing, and she’s always doing something. Sometimes what she does is something that benefits all of us, like making this killer fruitcake that I can’t get enough of. (I know–you’re thinking “Fruitcake? Gross.” But you haven’t lived until you’ve tried this fruitcake. My great aunt adds real vanilla beans, Ceylon cinnamon, and a touch of rum. Once you eat a slice, you’ll want to live on it forever.)

Sometimes, what she does is just for her–like learning a new song on the guitar or playing games on the rig. Either way, whether it’s for the family or for herself, what she does becomes part of us–for she does it here, in this space we share.


Ask a sociobiologist what family is for, and she’ll say, “To continue the propagation of our genes.” (Maybe that’s why the women in my family go for narrow-shouldered men, and the men go for pot-bellied women.)

When I look at my sister and my dad together, I can see the sense of this theory: replications of genetic patterns side by side.


 And if you look at our family history, you see that we’ve been going for generations.

The genes aren’t that different down the line–Look at me, and you’ll see my great, great, great, granduncle Mesquite.


But gene propagation doesn’t explain it all. This same great granduncle, he never had kids. My uncle Doug never did, either. Chances are I won’t, and Sugar won’t, and Aunt onezero won’t–but does that make us not part of the family? Of course anything we do to keep this family going still supports the family genes, since our siblings pass on a good portion of our shared genetic makeup to their kids.

That’s the sociobiologist’s explanation for our acts of caring.

My own explanation is a bit different.


I see it like this: Say that our home, Cradle Rock, has its own genius loci–its spirit of place. Let’s just use that as a starting point for right now.

Then, take each of us that lives here or spends time here. We’re all part of that. It’s like a body: it’s made of cells, right? Maybe the cells don’t spend all that much time together, for they’ve all got their own things they’re doing, but they’re still part of the same system.

And it’s not about genes. My aunt onezero, who’s got a lot of genes that none of us well ever begin to comprehend, she’s part of this family. Our neighbors and long-time friends–we consider them family, too. They’re here everyday. They’re part of this system.


Maybe family to me is like a tribe–and this home, it’s our tribal land.

Everybody that spends time here is part of our tribe.

And each of us contributes to spirit of the whole.

My sister, the Friend of the World with her social network, sharing photos of us to all her online followers all over Simdom, she connects Cradle Rock with the larger community.


My aunt Sugar who’s maxed more skills and completed more aspirations than practically the whole family lineage all down the line, she’s adding to what is possible, which also means that it’s now possible to choose to not be a Super Sim, because that’s already been done. Suppose I want to be a slacker–I’m not saying that I will, I’m just saying suppose–it’s no big deal now, because my aunt has shown that our family has got what it takes to excel.


I guess, the short answer, what it’s taken me a thousand words to get around to saying, is that, for me, family means freedom.

In this family, because of the space and the dreams we share, I’ve got the freedom to be who I want and do what I want. And I can do this, and still belong. I don’t have to rebel to carve out my space and my niche: it’s given to me through this space we share at Cradle Rock. That’s family.