At the state fair

Jessica and Namine went with my mom and sister to the state fair yesterday. My dad and I joined them after work.

Before I was able to join the girls, Jessica and Namine had tattoos done on their arms. Jessica had a flaming heart done, and Namine got a rainbow with her name under it. In keeping with the rainbow theme, Namine also got her hair colored like a rainbow.

I’ve always loved going to the fair. Being a creature of habit, I usually just get the same things every year — namely, a cheesy baked potato and a cream puff. It’s not that I’m opposed to trying new things, I’m just happy with what I know already works. Jessica, on the other hand, is not content to stick with the same foods every year.

Jessica and I have a saying: “I’ll try anything once.” We are not very social people by nature, being both introverts, but Namine is. So for all our sakes, we try to branch out. So when we walked past a place with a sign advertising kangaroo pot stickers, I thought, Why not? So I got in line and ended up getting a sampler plate, which consisted of a snake spring roll and four pot stickers, two of them being venison and two kangaroo.

In this particular instance, Jessica was not willing to “try anything once.” (The idea of eating snake especially grossed her out.) But Namine was thrilled that I offered to share, and we split everything down the middle. I thought the kangaroo pot stickers were especially delicious, while Namine preferred the venison. The spring roll tasted like chicken. (I have actually tried alligator before, and it too tastes like chicken, only a little tougher.)

Kangaroo pot stickers are delicious.

Namine had expressed interest in going on some rides. I knew that she could go on the carousel — which she did, several times — but I didn’t know if anything else would be okay for her. Her heart is finally stable after the third-stage Fontan surgery, that’s true enough, but she still cannot ride anything with a heart warning on it. (That in itself seems to me cruelly unfair, given how much she likes to go fast in her wheelchair.)

We did find a train ride that Namine could go on, but after walking through the rest of the amusement rides, we had to conclude that it was the only one she could go on. Namine was visibly upset, and didn’t understand why we wouldn’t let her go on other rides.

Instead of just telling her no, I thought that she could handle the truth. I knelt down next to her. “Why do you have a scar on your chest?”

“Because of my heart surgery.”

“Why did you have to have heart surgery?”

“Because my heart was sick. Dr. Mitchell fixed my heart so I could be healthy.”

“That’s right. And do you see the sign in front of that ride? Where all the pictures are?”


“See that heart picture?”


“That means that kids with sick hearts can’t go on it, so their hearts can stay healthy.”

Namine looked at me, then at the ride, then back at me. I could see the understanding in her eyes. At last she said to me, “I want my heart to stay healthy, so let’s go find something else I can ride.”

As it turned out, we never did find another ride she could go on. But Namine did me proud, and she didn’t complain. She didn’t like it, but she understood and accepted it. And there were plenty of games to play; they took the same tickets the rides did. Namine played a fishing game a couple times, a water gun game (which she and I did together), and a duck-picking game. At one game, the employee working there rigged it so that Namine could win a larger prize. She picked the Fruit Ninja banana.

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