The other night I was reading to the downstairs cousins and the lil’ monkey together. We live upstairs from the beloved’s brother and his family, and we each swap childcare an afternoon and a night a week. The nearby Granny and the GrandBaba take on an afternoon of kids themselves. Basically, it takes a village of family labor to give us all time for work and dates.
So there I am on our kid night, poised to read the book chosen by my nephew — eldest son, I might add, of a white, Christian (insofar as no one’s Jewish), currently able-bodied family of ample means. Did I mention he is blond, blue-eyed, tall, and smart? Well he is! And guess what book is his current favorite, for night-time all-cousin reading (since he reads his own baseball stories in bed)? Todd Parr’s The Family Book !
Many of you with kids know Todd Parr’s work; he’s done It’s Okay to be Different, another LGBT family favorite. For those who don’t already know it, The Family Book celebrates family diversity, illustrated in Parr’s Keith Haring-esque, primary colored, graphically bold style.
We’re all hunkered down together on the couch, cuddled up close. Page after page, the big thrill for one and all, led by Apple Pie Boy, let’s call him, is to quickly identify which ways our family — which to him is always already an extended family — fit the condition named on the page. It’s usually a disappointment in the rare cases where we don’t.
“Some families are big,” I read.
“That’s us!” they call out triumphantly, since they begin with both up and downstairs families plus the grannies, and then start counting.