As children, some of us dreamt we would be sat down by our parents and told we were adopted. Of course we were, that is why we are so completely normal and the rest of our family is absolutely bonkers! But I can hardly imagine what terrible injustice must have happened for my sister, at 4 years old, to have prompted her to go to the lengths she did to distance herself from us!
I wasn’t there when my mother got the phone call from the school, but the legend of this day goes down in Lazenby-history as one of the few times my mother can be said to be speechless…not that my mother is mouthy, or a chattering know-it-all…I mean to comment on the fact that living in a family like the Lazenbys introduces so many unique experiences, that it is a rare occasion that something occurs that is truly that shocking.
A few things made this event unprecedented and completely unexpected. The first being that the school never called about anyone except my Brother Dan (see category Deconstructing Dan for the on-going Dan saga). The second piece of the puzzle is that my younger sister Crissi was rarely the focus of anyone’s negative attention. She was a teeny-tiny, brown-eyed beauty…more like an fairy-creature than the rest of us blond, viking-warriors. She was the apple of everyone’s eye, and she knew it.
The call came on day that was as ordinary as the call was extraordinary. I can just picture my mom, standing in the kitchen, twirling the cord of our beige rotary-dial phone, and watching the birds making nests in the cedar hedge in our back yard. – This is probably not how it happened, but I like the image. – We had just moved to Ontario and were renting a house in a great neighbourhood. Crissi was only 4 (and looked only 3) and had just started Junior Kindgergarten (she could barely stand with her backpack on, let alone the daunting task of trying to climb up the school bus steps!) But she made it, somehow, each day, accompanied by her large, fair-haired siblings, and came back with a smile.
The conversation was not a long one, with both women hanging up chuckling, but feeling rather foolish. It went something like this:
Naive Teacher: “Oh Mrs. Lazenby, I think it is just wonderful what you did for Crissi and I would like to know more about it all!”
Confused Mrs. Lazenby: “Thanks? What do you mean?”
Naive Teacher: “Crissi told our class today about how she was adopted from China, and I think it is just so interesting!”
Confused Mrs. Lazenby: “Oh for heaven’s sakes…she’s not adopted, and she’s not Chinese, either!”
* awkward silence *
I’ll give the teacher a bit of a break, since it could appear at first glance that my sister may have had a different father, considering her dark eyes, skin and hair, and miniature size did not match her blond, freckled, husky and more vertically-gifted siblings… however is a bit of a stretch to believe she was Chinese! My mother is French-Canadian and my father (and my sister’s father, too, lets just get that out of the way!) is from a long line of European caricatures (I’m not kidding, we think we were probably Vikings).
This story followed my sister for the rest of her elementary and high school career…and was brought up by us every few months, just to keep it fresh! It didn’t help either that as we grew up our personalities made us as different as our physical appearances…. almost like we could have grown up on 2 different sides of the world. I wonder if that little four year-old really didn’t sense something?