Family Tree

I’ve just completed my third (and hopefully, final) elementary school, Family Tree project. This time, with Chloe, for her grade two class.

We went over names of relatives, where they are from and what brought them to Canada but every time we have walked through this assignment with one of the kids, some new detail has taken over.

For Chloe, she was entirely unable to remember anyone’s names from either side of our family.

I think when I worked on this project with her sisters I went to great lengths to practice, rehearse and memorize names over and over until they knew everyone intimately and the horses they rode in on.

This time around, I’m taking the, “Well, how would the class or teacher know?” approach when it comes to naming family members. Who is going to challenge my seven year old if she calls someone ‘Great Aunt Helen’ when her name is actually Yukiko?

For example, my Grandparents, Arthur and Phyllis Fisher have affectionately become, Arthur and Pusheen Fisherman. I’ve even gone so far as to swap the picture of my Grandma Phyllis to one of Pusheen-the-cat, a lovable, Garfield-esque character from Chloe’s favourite book, the driving force behind a lot of this confusion.

My parents, Edward and Valerie (Chloe’s Grandparents) will now forever be known as, Edward and Gloria. Close enough.

Chloe posted her favourite pictures of our family but struggled with a particular one of Greg and me. When I asked her what the problem was, she told me the reason for her anxiety was that the teachers wouldn’t like that Greg and I appear to be trying to give each other head lice. If my kids learn nothing else in elementary school it’s to keep their heads to themselves. Assignment complete–A++

But this next part is where our family comes up short. “What special/traditional clothing does your family wear during important celebrations?” While other more sophisticated, well traveled families with current hair-styles, discuss exotic silks, tapestries, gowns and scarves, we tend to go by the “No shirt, No shoes, No service” policy made famous by our beach combing ancestors, probably originating as far back as, I don’t know, the days of Pusheen-the-Fisherman.

My favourite part of this seventeen part project (and the favourite for the rest of the class) is the “Traditional Foods” presentation. This is what I call the “Food Bribe” portion of the family tree project. It’s when the kids from interesting, cultural backgrounds make fabulous treats for everyone in the class like dumplings and samosas, sweetbreads and grilled gizards and the kids that come from our family try to tell the teacher we are heirs to the Dempsters Dynasty and then bring in a bagged, loaf of day-old bread and hope nobody does any research.

If we’re being honest, our family’s traditional food (as started two years ago) is eating meals out of thermoses while driving to swim practice. I can’t send in 30 thermoses for every student to get a taste of what it’s like to be us because the expense alone would have us eating out of non-insulated containers in our vehicle and boy wouldn’t that be ironic, so I stuck to the bread plan.

The one picture of Chloe I was able to successfully crop everyone else out of because all of the cameras were broken when her two older sisters were born, is a pic of her sticking her tongue out at about 4 months old. That’ll do.

So, we have Pusheen “the cat” Fisherman, our traditional bread (I think the recipe we made is for a Jewish challah loaf and it’s my favourite). I’m not Jewish and neither is my bread maker but we’re crossing our fingers for an A on this assignment.

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