The Fack Family
My family in August 2007

Noel and I said “yes” to Brian and Darcie.

For those of you who don’t know, my Dad and Mom have a company of manufacturers’ representatives. That company consists of my Dad, my Mom, my brother Brian, my sister-in-law Darcie and my brother Jeremy.

Now, today, they had a meeting with a woman named Brenda from one of the companies they represent. She flew in to show them different basic bits and pieces about lamps they sell.

So, Darcie and Brian asked Noel and me if we could watch Gavin, their 2-year-old-in-December son. Of course, we said yes, not thinking it’s been about 20 years since I’ve changed a diaper.

A few days prior, Noel and I went shopping with Grandma and Mom at Woodfield Mall and found some Duplo Legos, those big for-2-and-up Lego blocks. One was a fire truck with a flashing light and siren, the other a box of assorted Legos. So we bought those for him, and thank God we did, because that kept him busy for a few hours.

Unfortunately, children his age get tired. And crabby. Real fast. So I tried to put him to sleep with no avail. He cried and pouted and screamed and I thought that it would be best to let him stay up to tire himself out. Not the right thing to do!

He only got more crabby and more rambunctious and whatever either Noel or I tried to do to settle him down only distracted him for a few minutes.

In the end, Brian came out of the meeting to put Gavin into the crib. I felt totally awful that he had to do that because I was such a crap babysitter that I couldn’t plonk Gavin into the crib and walk away.

Gavin cried. He screamed. “Mama! Dada!” And he went on and on for about 15 minutes until a period of silence between crying and yelling ensued. Then another. And then the silence was more than the screaming and he fell asleep.

I, more than Noel, was relieved. And the nap lasted extremely long… about 2 hours, I think. Of course, I was worried — it is my brother’s child after all — and Noel was probably laughing at me about it. But… I’d rather be safe than sorry.

We got Gavin out of bed when he woke up — he kicks the wall when he wakes up — and Noel said, “I think you need to change his diaper”. There was pee on the back of his shorts, and when I got the diaper off, it weighed more than Gavin (Yes, I did check it before he went to bed. Yes, it was dry then). Lesson being never give a boy 2 juice boxes before he goes to take a nap.

The meeting ran over by about 2 hours. Noel and I were at a loss as what to do. I took Gavin out for a few minutes to find, to my delight, a construction crew working on a burst pipe at the intersection. We walked down there, his sticky hand (from his ring pop) grabbing mine. He was mesmerized. Digger trucks. Dump trucks. Construction workers.

I thought Noel might be getting worried so I tried to get Gavin back to the house so we could get Noel, but Gavin kept stopping to watch the construction. I thought, we have a winner here.

We got Noel quickly and got Gavin’s stroller and walked down to a shady part (as it was extremely hot) to watch the Village Public Works fix the pipe. And Gavin was enthralled. 45 minutes of the best free entertainment you could get.

In the end, we took a walk. He enjoyed that, and we enjoyed watching him. I think Gavin is more fond of Noel but I could be wrong. He is such a sweet kid!

Darcie asked me if babysitting Gavin has made me reconsider having children of our own after the disastrous Jamie fiasco. I’m absolutely stuffed, as I’m sure Noel is. Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know!

O Beautiful, for Spacious Skies

This is not the country I left.

I mean, I’m not a snob enough to believe that the entire world revolves around me and that, after being away from the United States on and off for the last 11 1/2 years, I wouldn’t expect it to change, but I felt it would change for the better.

The last few times we have journeyed here, less and less shops are open. The economic market has kept creeping down. People seem to be less optimistic, more in “survival mode”, struggling to get by day-to-day with overwhelming medical bills, litigation, legislation, and so on.

I had a professor at university, well-versed in Shakespeare and many other classics, who warned, “The US is demonstrating the same signs as the last days of the Roman Empire.” At the time, being young, full of hormones and anarchy and anger, I thought that was kinda exciting. I’ve always held that thought in the back of my head as time crept by, and, being a somewhat outside observer on a country I used to live in — growing older and more mature and less angry across the world’s largest ocean away — I sadly see the US sliding into that phrase. Infrastructure is failing. Large companies are polluting rivers, lakes, atmosphere, environment. Recycling is huge but the waste of power, water and other resources is astronomical as well. The Powers That Be are too busy bickering over how much to pay themselves and what pet projects to fund, not how to keep bridges from collapsing and other more important matters. The senators and governors and president and advisers all seem more interested in their own personal interests and bickering with one another than working together to find a way to make things work for the people they represent.

And isn’t that kinda what happened in Rome? Isn’t that what George Lucas warned a bit about in the latest Star Wars movies? That inaction and in-fighting can cause slow the political machine down enough to let one, or a group of, dangerous person, or people, take control?

And people here (as well as around the world) seem to be politically uninterested, unable to say to politicians, “you know, enough is enough. Stop regulating our lives to every breath we take and get on and work on the big issues.” Maybe being in fight-or-flight mode does that to you, burying your head in the sand, or maybe real life is more interesting, or maybe we’ve all become so apathetic towards politics and moreso politicians that we’d rather bitch and moan (when we can be bothered) and get on with our own lives and hope and pray the politicians make the right choices in the end, and the media (more and more sensationalist as each day creeps on to the point where we sometimes don’t know what the truth actually is), we hope, keep them honest. Maybe most people believe (somewhat like I do) that most politicians no longer represent the people and their voices (like they were meant to) but their own personal interests and the interests of those who support them financially than those they were elected to represent. And how sad is that?

I think America, like New Zealand, has such an opportunity to be great again. Where is the American Dream? The one I remembered when I was a child?

And why aren’t more people standing up and asking the hard questions of the people representing them?