NEWSFLASH –An Unwashed Addition!

My family was always enormous. After five years of being together Roscoe prides himself on knowing eighty percent of my relative’s names. However a new member has been added! So Roscoe will be back down to a seventy five percent accuracy rate.

Jessica, Carter’s Mommy* had been pregnant for some time. Nine months in fact. And last Saturday she had the baby. Tragically none of my names for the newborn were chosen, even though Carter has two mommies and I’m one of them.

Not really, however people at the Winnipeg Folk Festival probably thought as much last summer. Like any self respecting festival of the arts, the place was packed with same sex families. Walking around, Jessica and I each holding one of Carter’s small hands we looked a lot like the happy gay couples wandering about with their children. Also I totally claimed the role of the fun parent, mostly because I was unwashed, covered head to toe in dirt and invariably about half of me would be sopping wet at any given time.

While Jessica ran around volunteering for the festival, Carter and I just ran around, at top speed. However unlike many of the fun Dad parents, I didn’t eject Carter from his stroller when we hit one of the inevitable tree roots embedded in the ground on our runs. Prior to these off roading sprints I would  securely strap Carter into his chariot.

Other children at the festival were not always privy to such precautions and as a result I witnessed a couple of child flings.

it's not the thing you fling, but the fling itself

Not unlike on Northern Exposure when they flung a piano, the children soared into the air. But instead of an art piece, it was more about comedy. Although what Chris In The Morning said still applied

 ” It’s not the thing you fling, but the fling itself.”                                              It didn’t really matter who was being flung, it was still hilarious.(Photo credit: tnarik)

 Dads moved across the festival fields, squiring gaggles of children about in buggies, then creating human catapults using said wagons and an obstinate rock.  Into the air and over the sides the children would tumble. Unless it was a front facing stroller, invariably it would take the Dads a second to realize that their load was lighter for a reason. The children would lie sprawled across the ground, dazed by the sun and their sudden flight. I of course would be the jerk who was splitting their side laughing. The Dads would then gather the kids up, placing them back into the stroller or wagon and continue on their way, buckles swaying devil-may-care next to small torsos and paying no attention to the various tree roots and potholes on the path. It was the best entertainment to be had at the festival, aside from the music of course.

Replica catapult at Château des Baux, France

Baby transportation device or instrument of siege? Sometimes it’s difficult to tell the two apart. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyway, back to the new addition to my family. So despite being mistaken for one of Carter’s two mommies both of my name choices were turned down. I offered up two reasonable options, one for a boy, one for a girl.

Mini Carter for a boy, because Carter is such a great name, so why not have two. Admittedly it would be confusing, however the amount of name yelling would be reduced by half at a crowded playground. Also the “Mini” could be used when you need to distinguish between the two.And for a girl I suggested Cartera. Also for simplicity’s sake. For whatever reason, Jessica and her husband vetoed both of these ideas.

Regardless, my happiness over the new arrival is boundless. I’m looking forward to flying out to meet the little bundle of joy and I shall promise forwards, backwards and upside down that I shall strap the new family member firmly into the stroller before running with it, no matter how amusing small human projectiles are.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of those who didn’t actually want to be mistaken for being in a couple with me. Seeing as Jessica is all for gay rights, gay marriage, gay adoption and gay children, I think the problem was me. Maybe it’s the height difference, or maybe it was the fact that I kept telling people I hadn’t showered in a week and a half. Whatever the reason, Jessica didn’t want to be falsely identified as my other unwashed half, so I can assume she doesn’t want her name on here either.

Also names have been changed to protect the innocent and under aged. But not the small, at the tender age of four, Carter may very well surpass me in height this year.

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An Uncommon Link

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Official ...

You should always tell these people the truth. Except for when your truth takes a half an hour to explain, or your voice sounds like a hysterical chipmunk when you get upset or flustered. Then you should probably condense the truth, or just say “vacation”. Also flop sweating in front of Homeland Security is unacceptable regardless of the purpose of your visit . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s always important to tell the truth. Except for when you shouldn’t, like when you’re standing at the customs booth wanting to get into a country and the stern customs agent asks “What is the purpose of your visit ma’am?”

Under no circumstance should you be truthful then. You absolutely should not tell the customs agent that you’re going to San Antonio to be a travel nanny for your great aunt’s daughter’s son because the Homeland security employee won’t understand, and even worse he might not let you into the country. Admittedly, it isn’t the customs agent’s fault. At first glance your great aunt’s daughter’s son doesn’t sound like an important person to visit. It sounds suspiciously like “I’m a petit, blonde drug mule hell bent on your country’s destruction.” Because great aunts couldn’t possibly be that important. And great aunt’s daughters couldn’t possibly be that important either, but the thing is, for me they are.

Aunty Betty. I can’t actually do justice in talking about Aunty Betty and the kind of person she is so I’m going to tell a story instead.

Once, when I was eight, my sister Diana, Granddad, Mom and I all piled into Granddad’s van and drove for three years. That’s an exaggeration but only slight, because for an eight and six year old, the drive from Ontario to Manitoba might as well have been three years long.

So we drove, and then we drove some more, and then we stopped to play koosh ball with mom. After that we got back into the car and drove for another month. And finally, finally we pulled up to what seemed to be a very nondescript house. It looked like any other house in that subdivision; medium sized, well maintained with a picturesque garden. But it wasn’t any other house on the block, although Diana and I didn’t know that yet.

So Granddad’s van pulled into the driveway and out tumbled Diana and I like clowns from a small car, so eager were we to be free of our seatbelts. And we knocked on the door and it opened, and out came Aunty Betty and her husband.

Some people hae auditory hallucinations of their cell phone ringing, after listening to a funny story I can hear Aunty Betty’s laugh ringing through my ears. My Great Aunt’s laugh is the sound of appreciation coming from her very core, she throws her head back and it’s powerful. The sound is glorious and I know that Diana loves it too because why else would she have plied our dear Great Aunt with so many blueberry coolers at Granddad’s seventieth fete?

And then Aunty Betty spoke. Her words overflowed with kindness, you longed to hear her address you as “Luvie” and most often your keen listening was rewarded. She showed children the same level of respect as grownups. Truth be told she shows everyone that same amount of respect. But I’ll touch on where I learned the value of offering basic human rights in another story. And best of all was what she talked about; vegetarians, music, Autism, mod, everything under the sun that Diana and I had never heard of but wanted to learn more about.

After that we sat down to dinner and met Carter’s Mommy, but she wasn’t Carter’s Mommy then. She wasn’t anyone’s mommy then, so she went by Jessica*. Diana and I would probably have spent the entire meal just fascinated with Jessica, listening to her melodious voice and her laugh which sounded a lot like Aunty Betty’s if it hadn’t been for George**.

George was Aunty Betty’s oldest son and as soon as he sat down at the dinner table my and Diana’s eyes were glued on him and stayed there the entire meal.

Erica nose piercings

George had a normal nose ring. I imagine Diana and my little heads would have exploded from shock if he showed up with a septum piercing.(Photo credit: nebarnix)

A nose ring. A. Nose. Ring. A nose ring! Without looking at the other sister’s face we read each other other’s minds as our eyes tried to digest the concept of this small piece of metal. He seemed so friendly but then he had gone and shoved a silver circle through one of his perfectly good nostrils! Piercing your ears before fourteen was verboten in our house, so our young brains could not have fathomed something so foreign or strange as a nose ring.

After the meal Jessica brought out her guitar and together she and George sang so Diana and I could dance our hearts out. The four of us stayed in Aunty Betty’s home with her family for a week before heading back to Ontario.

On our last night there my eight year old heart was broken. How could I leave a place where everyone was kind and there were so many people to sing and talk with? I cried for so long that my mother eventually carried me from the bed where Diana was trying to sleep into the living room where the adults were talking. Comforted by the flow of familiar voices over me I nodded off.

I probably wouldn’t have been so tearful had I known that we would return again and again to visit Aunty Betty and her mother, my Great Grandma Kay. Or that they in turn would fly to my province to visit me. And that I would spend a whole week of my adolescence traipsing about after Aunty Betty while she talked to me about the world.

Unfortunately those things are hard to explain and nearly impossible to convey in less than sixty seconds to border guards. Even more difficult to comprehend is that in my list of favourite places in the whole world that the Kanaapali beach in Maui falls behind sitting in my Great Aunt’s kitchen. So returning home from the states my arms noodle-y from carrying Carter back and forth from the pool, I replied with a succinct “Visiting family” in response being asked the purpose of my visit.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of both Jessica and her son Carter. It’s bad enough that I insist on sending oversized t shirts with monsters on them in the mail that Carter then wears around like a tiny muumuu.

**George is the only member of my family who hasn’t had my blog forced upon him like pasta at an Italian picnic so I don’t feel right putting his real name up on my site.