Owen came into our bedroom this morning, eager to talk. Maybe because he has been visiting with his baby cousin Welf lately, he had babies on the brain. He asked me,
“Are you trying hard to make me a baby brother or a baby sister?”
“We’ve been trying, sweetie. But to be honest, we’ve kind of given up. It’s just not working.”
“Don’t give up, Mummy. Have you been doing the half and half?”
Now, a while back, when Owen asked how babies were made, I said that a baby was made up of half the mummy and half the daddy, all mixed up together. Right? Owen has apparently decided that this was called the “half and half.”
So I said, “Yes, Owen, we’ve been doing the half and half”
“But have you been doing it all the time? In the morning and at night?”
At which point I just laughed.
“Have you been making the hands and Daddy makes the feet? You try, Mummy, because I want a family like yours, with brothers and sisters.”
We have just had a great weekend. My brother Adam has married the most wonderful woman imaginable (we love you, Val!). We were all together. My sister Erin was here from Germany with her husband and son, and for the whole weekend, we were a huge family, my three siblings, our partners, our kids, and my parents. Val comes from an even bigger family, with three sisters and a brother, plus her parents.
Owen and I talk sometimes about how we have a small family. Owen has named our family a “triangle family,” with the three of us connected together. Yesterday, we went for breakfast at a café together, and he asked me to draw him all the shapes I knew on a napkin. I obliged. I drew triangles of all sorts, a square, different kinds of rectangles, a parallelogram, an octagon… Then Owen asked for a decagon, which kind of floored me. (Apparently he learned the word from a video). He wanted more and more shapes, with more and more sides.
This weekend, our family blended with Val’s family, and yesterday, we were about twenty people around a brunch table. Two decagons. OK. I looked it up. A twenty-sided polygon is called an icosagon. (Thanks, Wikipedia!) What does this shape look like, more than anything else in the world?
At their wedding, not only did Adam and Val exchange vows with each other, but they asked their family and friends to take a vow to help them and sustain them. We will. In exchanging rings, they nestled a circle of family around themselves.
Sometimes, with Owen, we talk about his extended family. He likes this idea. He likes us to name all the people in his extended family – grandparents, aunts, cousins, great-grand-aunts, second cousins twice removed. Sometimes he asks how many cars it would take to fit all of his extended family inside. A couple of school buses, I say.
So, Owen, even though your immediate family is just a triangle, and even though your parents are struggling with the math of half and half, please know that you are surrounded, encircled, with a network of family that verges on infinity.