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Ross Murray's Border Report
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Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 09.26.09
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

The bouncy thing

It's a great day in a parent's life when a child becomes too big to go on those inflatable bouncy games you find at fairs and carnivals. It's not that you want to deny your child the joys of jumping in a cushioned, germ-filled environment. It's just that if you want to do anything other than stand around as your child waits in line for her three-minute turn inside a pink, blow-up castle, you're in the wrong place.

So I died inside a little when I saw the inflatable things on the fairgrounds at Quebec’s Townshippers' Day. I knew, what with my wife working a booth for much of the afternoon and my two older children planning to ditch me as soon as possible, I was going spend a lot time watching my eight-year-old flopping about.

The good thing about standing in one spot at an event like TDay is that you get to visit with people -- mainly other parents keeping track of their children's shoes but also people on their way to other attractions, like musicians and dancers and federal government kiosks on the merits of milk quotas.

This is the beauty of Townshippers' Day -- six to eight hours of catching up and not having to apologize for speaking English. It's like living in Ontario for a day but without all the smugness.

As one person said to me Saturday, "I've never seen so many square-heads in my life." It's okay, he was English, he's allowed to say that.

It's just that this year my TDay experience had a heavy eight-year-old influence, not just Abby but the friend she met up with at, yes, the bouncy thing. When it's just your child, you can say, "No, it's my turn to do something, preferably something involving a sausage." When there are two children involved, you're pretty much chasing and herding. You essentially become a border collie.

On the other hand, with two sets of parents, you can become sidetracked but remain fairly certain that at least one parent will keep an eye on the children and carry all the giveaway bookmarks, balloons, stickers, posters, sun-catchers, jam, and pamphlets they pick up and quickly tire of.

Consequently, I visited with five former co-workers, got a hug from "Breakaway" host Jacquie Czernin (and you only got a CBC tote bag!), chatted with some Townshippers' Association folks, said hello to a former mayor, and told a mayor hopeful she was a glutton for punishment.

Back with the children, I rode the Music Fest wagon for no reason whatsoever. I spent way too long in the petting zoo, which was in one of the horse stalls, latched from the outside. I said to another parent, "Let's leave them in there and head to the beer tent. Oh wait, it's TDay; there is no beer tent."

And I had to practically drag Abby away from the Rainbow Country Cloggers. (Where do all these cloggers come from? You would think that with so many cloggers I would know someone who clogs. But I don't. I live a virtually clogger-free existence.) She was merrily (if awkwardly) dancing along with them in the sawdust, oblivious to all the people looking at her and smiling. I pretended not to know her.

Every now and then, between face-painting and demands for snacks, I could hear music coming from the grandstand. It sounded good. But, like I said, I had eight-year-olds; sitting and listening was totally not allowed.

All in all, I had a good time. It's good for the English community to get together for something besides school meetings and funerals. I noticed, though, there weren't a lot of young people. I know they're out there. Maybe TDay needs more bouncy things. Oh, and don't forget that beer tent for the parents.

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