Sunday, February 17, 2008

Mi Familia

When I hear the word "mom" shouted across a hallway, historically speaking, it has been my disposition to ignore it. Similarly, when someone suggests that "my daughter has been acting up," I can usually freely assume the accuser has me confused with my doppelganger of the breeder kind. Kids? Please. I can barely take care of my poor cats, let alone something that would require a level of nourishment beyond a bowl of dry food in the morning and an occasional brushing.

Henceforth, it may come as a surprise that I am a mom on the MV Explorer. M-O-M. And not just of two or three, which is the working definition of a nuclear family on this voyage, but of six. Girls. Yes, one more than Scott Wolfe and his orphaned siblings, and a close second to Coach Graham Lubbock's entourage. If you will remember, 6 of his gang were girls (and as a sidenote, Just the Ten of Us was a spin-off of Growing Pains).

A family of seven is no easy feat when it comes to planning. If we were on land and were going to dinner, we wouldn't all fit in my jeep, would most likely have to take a mini van, and a table at Doughboys on West Third would be out of the question. On the ship, our transportation limitations are not quite as severe as the furthest possible commute is a five minute walk, but it is admittedly challenging to reserve an eight top in the Aquamarine Lounge and to schedule a game night around class and work schedules.

My friend Deb Resling, who runs the lifelong learners program, also oversees an extended family program where students are anonymously paired up with faculty and staff members. Our fake families serve as an additional community builder, and an integral part of the experience. I was initially assigned three girls -- Caitlin, Lauren, and Robyn. Then, by popular demand, Jillian insisted that she be added to my family, then my two workstudy girls Jocilyn and Z wanted to join. Clocking us in as the largest, non-Mormon family this side of the Equator. And a bit scandalous on the ship as families of the assigned type don't normally expand.

Deb and I arranged a Family Feud last night at the request of my competitive daughters. It was war. My girls and I met in the piano bar, in matching attire that seemed fit for a sears portrait of the serious kind: white shirts, jeans, flip flops. Jillian covered our faces in brown war paint, then it was off to classroom 2 for a spar of "Taboo" (with Top Gun's "Danger Zone" orchestrating our entrance). I'm sad to report that we lost, in a big way, but next match is Scattergories. A game I actually know.

(From L to R: Lauren, Robyn, Jillian, Jocilyn; back row: me, Caitlin --- Z not shown)

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