Life, Love & Laughter at the Haiti Picnic

“Are we going to my Haiti?” asked a somewhat bewildered Island Boy.

“Yes, IB,” we reassured him.  “We are going to the Haiti picnic this weekend.”

“Now?”

“No.  Today is Tuesday.  We leave on Friday.  The picnic is on Saturday.”

And so it went every day last week.

When Friday finally arrived, we packed up the car and left as soon as possible Running Girl & The Fashionista got out of the Harry Potter movie.  Pennsylvania here we come.

We drove for four hours on Friday night and stayed overnight in Williamsport, PA — home of the Little League World Series.  Of course, at 10:30 p.m., I had trouble mustering enthusiasm for this event among the other passengers in the car as we drove past the darkened stadium.

Saturday began with an arm-eating chair.

Sometimes it’s not easy to dwell on the edge of five.  Things don’t go as they should.  This was one of those times.  Island Boy was playing with a seemingly harmless, pleather, reclining chair when he got his elbow wedged in the small space between the chair proper and where the footrest glides out.

A desperate 10 minutes was spent trying to free the lad’s upper extremity.  I was told by Running Girl that my non-stop laughter did absolutely nothing to help the situation.  This may be true.  But I couldn’t help it.

When she told me to get the soap, I complied.  However, when she announced her plan to call the Williamsport Fire Department, I stopped laughing and pushed on the chair’s headrest with all my might.  This created more space and voilà — IB’s arm popped out.  Extremely embarrassing encounter with emergency services averted.

However, all was not lost.  We now have years of family lore and witticisms from this event:

Remember that time that Island Boy almost lost an arm to a Laz-y-boy?

Hey, IB.  Give me a hand with this chair.

They call me “Righty.” Don’t ask.

Island Boy, if you don’t behave we will get in the car and drive straight to the furniture store to buy a recliner.

You get the idea.

The Mighty Susquehanna

Free of the chair, we rode off on the morning breeze southward down the Susquehanna valley.  This ride always lifts my spirits.  The mighty Susquehanna may be among our most gorgeous American rivers.  While riding along beside it, I expect to see Huck and Jim emerge on a raft from around one of its many islands.

The river starts right in downtown Cooperstown, NY and winds its way south for 444 miles before emptying itself gracefully into the Chesapeake Bay at Havre de Grace — the birthplace of Cal Ripken, Jr. and our own beloved Fashionista.

Speaking of The Fashionista, she didn’t want to come to this event.

“Subway Dude is staying home.  Why can’t I?” she moaned.

“SD is 17, and he has to work.”

Not at all satisfied with this response, TF continued to wheedle and beg.  Eventually, a compromise was reached.  Fashionista could bring a friend along for the weekend.

Fashionista’s No. 1 draft pick was a blond, blue-eyed 14-year old whom we will call Smiley Girl.  She is a great kid, and has been to our house several times.  However, we really didn’t know her parents very well, and we were apprehensive that they would permit her to go away with virtual strangers for the weekend.

After a few days of mulling it over, the parents allowed Smiley Girl to go.  It probably helped that we were 2010’s Beloved Media Family due to the overwhelming press and TV news coverage we received during RG and IB’s Haiti adventure and my attempts to bring them home safely.  I guess it showed that we are not totally evil people.

When Smiley’s mom showed up to drop her off, Running Girl dug her fingernails into my bicep to keep me from demanding from the mother a copy of Smiley Girl’s health insurance card and a general power of attorney for health care purposes.  I suppose not everyone thinks like a lawyer.

“It will be fine,” insisted RG.  And it was.

To our knowledge, Smiley Girl has grown up in an all-white family in a lily-white suburb.  It’s all green lawns, swimming pools, shopping malls, roller skating and good health care.  In other words, it’s the opposite of Haiti.

“This ought to be good,” I thought to myself, awaiting her reaction to what was to come at the picnic.

The Girls and their new "Haitian Hubbies"

It was good.  Really good.  In the best possible sense.

Smiley Girl opened her arms and her heart to the many wonderful children who have journeyed from their tropical birthplace to their forever homes in America.  She shared her warm smile with everyone, and the love was returned in abundance.

During dinner, it was apparent to me that this young lady was having the time of her life.  She was laughing and joking and embracing the special brand of mirth that only Haitians can bring to an event.  Although Smiley Girl did not necessarily get any taller, she grew significantly that weekend.

And she brought The Fashionista along with her.

I maintain that there is no greater delight on this planet than to see your child laughing hysterically and grasping at life with both hands.  Fashionista fell in love with the kids at the picnic.  This was fantastic for her.  Particularly in light of the fact that sometimes life with her younger adopted brother is not the non-stop, joyride experience that she anticipated beforehand.

I have a wonderful memory burned into the hard-drive of my brain→The Fashionista and Smiley Girl are sitting at a picnic table surrounded by children with beautiful, brown faces.  Pies are in front of all of them.  Someone yells “Go” and the girls and the other kids plunge their faces directly into the whipped cream-laden plates.  The look of sheer happiness on The Fashionista’s dessert-covered face made everything I have done in my life as a parent seem worthwhile.

Thank you, Fashionista and Smiley Girl, for allowing each other to be kids again.  You are forgiven for the 40 minutes you made us wait while you ironed your hair, did your nails and applied your makeup in the hotel room that morning.

Thank you, Island Boy, for finding your own bliss at various points during the picnic.  On the swings, in the pool, or in the dirt — you are a man for all seasons.

Thank you, Running Girl, for dragging me along on this whole adventure.  It has made me a better man.

And most of all, thank you, Mother Haiti, for sharing your children with the rest of the world.  I know this is not what you had planned for your timoun.  But, we and the other adoptive parents are trying very hard to do right by you.

— The Major

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Melania on July 20, 2011 at 9:06 am

    THANK YOU for the smiles as usual Kay Nou. It would not surprise me if Smiley Girl goes on to share this story millions of times over in her life! You are all blessed!

    Reply

  2. Loved this post. Read it through teary eyes. Thanks for writing it– it expresses so much that I too feel and think. Love, Heather

    Reply

  3. Posted by lisa on July 23, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Made me smile! Miss you all!

    Reply

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