The Family Next Door
Mandy Straussberg, discouraged after being let go from the school play, struggles to tell her busy mother, who seems to be always busy or sad. Unhappy when no letter comes from the Young Writers' Competition, Mandy walks next door and helps Ed and Elaine in the garden, she eats dinner with them. Their family conversation around the table makes Mandy very happy. She admires Marvin's first whisker and compliments Tamika on her verse memorization while inadvertently belittling her accomplishment. Before leaving she volunteers to help the Washington family organize their garage the next Saturday.
Mandy tells Elaine about being passed over for the school play and is comforted by Elaine's motherly reassurance. Her mother is told my Mrs. Nietchew on the phone about Mandy's dismissal and tries to encourage Mandy to tell her about it, but Mandy is reluctant to bother her mother.
When Mandy helps the Washingtons organize the garage she inadvertently makes Tamika feel overshadowed. After Mandy leaves, Tamika complains about how bossy she feels Mandy is and expresses gratitude that she has left. Later, Tamika tells her family that she has memorized her 100th Bible verse and her parents take them all to Whit's End to celebrate. While they are there, Mandy shows up. Elaine gives Mandy a letter addressed to her that was accidentally placed in their mailbox. Too nervous to open it, Mandy asks Ed to read it. She won the Young Writers' Competition! The Washingtons are elated at Mandy's success and Elaine offers Mandy the use of her cell phone to call her mother. Mandy declines, excusing her delay by the fact that her mother is working late, and the Washingtons invite her to celebrate with them by eating a carrot cake.
Meanwhile, Rachel receives a call at work informing her that Mandy has won the competition. Elated, and sure that Mandy doesn't yet know about her success, Rachel begs out of work and buys Mandy an ice cream cake to celebrate. Mandy, however, is still out with the Washingtons, bowling. Unsurprisingly, Mandy is an excellent bowler, outshining the family's usual winner: Tamika. Worried, Rachel calls Elaine, looking for Mandy. Elaine accidentally lets slip that Mandy won the writers' competition, apologizing for not letting Mandy tell Rachel herself. A discouraged Rachel tells Elaine to let Mandy know she's going to bed. As Elaine teases Ed about his dismal bowling score, Tamika tells Mandy that she has been "around an awful lot" and that sometimes her family just wants to have family time.
The next Sunday at church Ed and Elaine tell Marvin and Tamika that Mandy's parents are separating. They compliment their kids on welcoming Mandy into their home as she goes through this difficult time. Before Tamika can fully react, she is asked onto the platform to recite the 100th verse that she learned. As Tamika recites the text (Galatians 6:2) she realizes that she has not been living out the verses she committed to memory. As soon as church is over, Tamika catches up with Mandy and apologizes.
Back at home, as Mandy and her mother prepare lunch, Mandy finds the chocolate-fudge ice cream cake (her favorite) in the freezer. Rachel bemoans the distance between her and Mandy and brings up the play as well. She and Mandy laugh about Mandy bowling (which she hates) and eating carrot cake (which makes her gag). Mandy admits that her mother knows her better than anyone. Rachel apologizes for not being around as much due to their circumstances and agrees that their home is gloomy lately. After reminding Mandy that they are still a family, just different than they used to be, Rachel begs Mandy not to shut her and Mandy's dad out of her life. They agree to spend more time together. Tamika phones, inviting Mandy over. Rachel instead invites the Washingtons over their house to play Monopoly - a Straussberg favorite - and they all enjoy Mandy's ice cream cake together.
- There are no discussion questions listed for this episode. »
Heard in episode
Mentioned in episode
- This episode is the only one in the Straussberg Separation saga to feature Mandy's mother but not her father. The inverse would be true in #615: “Only By His Grace”.
- Ed references the Greek mortal Adonis in this episode.
- There are no quotes listed for this episode. ».