Salix Bough, the first child of gen 6, hopped out of the bassinet wondering what would be the first thing to tackle. Everybody else was asleep, which meant the choice was totally, completely hers. Not bad for an active artistic prodigy wanna-be!
Her uncle Lamont aspires to be a master chef, so that means the fridge is always full of something yummy. Today, he made two batches of grilled cheese, and one big sandwich was calling Salix’s name.
After she finished her snack, Salix found her aunt Madrona out at the picnic table.
“Can you tell me all about our family?” Salix asked. She chose the right person, since Aunt Rona is something of a family historian.
“This is a great family, Sal. Your mom’s the heir–which means she keeps the legacy line going–and she’s always been my hero. Smart, strong, independent. Plus, she loves you like crazy.”
“Me and your aunt Poplar are the spares, which means that if anything would have happened to your mom, one of us would’ve stepped in to keep the family going. But now you’re here, we’re like side shoots. I’m still gonna have kids, I think, but Poplar told me she’s not sure. She might just want to be an aunt.”
“So am I the heir, then?” Salix asked.
“You might be!” Madrona explained. “See, we’re an exemplar family, and goofball is the family trait, which means that if there’s a goofball, the goofball becomes the heir. But here’s the silly part: there hasn’t been a goofball in the family since our way distant great-great-whatevers who no one even remembers! I think we should’ve had geek be the trait, since there are tons of geeks, including both your parents!”
“I’m active,” said Salix.
“You sure are! That’s a great trait! You’re great great something-or-other grandpa Kyler was active!”
“Does active make me heir?”
“Nope, but being first-born just might! If you don’t get any siblings with the goofball trait, then you’ll be the heir! And if you do ever roll goofball, you’re heir for sure, even if you’ve got goofball sibs! So! You’d better take good care of yourself, and we’d better take good care of you!”
“What’s grandma like?” Salix asked.
“Your grandma–my mom!–is totally awesome! Even though she’s super old by now, she’s so healthy that she’s still playing extreme video games! Isn’t that cool?”
“Your grandma’s just got a way about her. She’s good friends with everybody, like with your dad.”
“Is my grandma my dad’s mom, too?” Salix asked.
“No,” said Madrona, “Just the mom of us girls. But she’s like a mom to your dad now. Sort of a mom-good-friend kinda thing.”
“Are Dad and Uncle Lamont brothers?” Salix asked.
“They’re brothers-in-law. They’d be enemies right now if the law didn’t make them brothers!” Madrona laughed.
“Well,” Madrona explained, “It’s sort of complicated. See, me and Lamont just got married, and before we got married, he was wanting to marry your mom, and your dad, he was thinking maybe he would want to marry me, and I think your mom and me, we like all mailmen! See what I mean? Complicated! But don’t worry. We’re figuring it out. And your dad and uncle are both such great guys, that they’ll get it all straightened out, and before you know it, everybody will be friends around here!”
“For real, toot-sweet!”
“Your dad’s been going out of his way to be nice to Lamont,” Madrona said. “And Lamont’s a really good guy who really just wants everything to be happy and peaceful. Even though he’s still mad, he’ll come around.”
“I think I must be pretty lucky to have you for my aunt and Lamont for my uncle. Is that why you married him, Rona, ’cause he’s such a good uncle?”
“Well,” answered Madrona, “I married him for a lot of reasons. But lately I have been feeling lucky and that I made the right choice. For example, when you were still a baby, he took really good care of you!”
“And,” she continued, “even though it makes him nuts, he’s been doing all the dishes around the lot! Now that’s a sweet guy, don’t you think?”
“Plus,” said Madrona, “I think he’s dreamy.”
“Is it like a dream to look like a big brown bunny in a blue scarf?” asked Salix.
“I love having such a big family living here!” Salix said.
“Me, too,” said Madrona. “And it’s good for us to enjoy it now. Everything always changes, pipsqueak, so enjoy every moment of happiness you can. Your grandma’s got an appointment with Grim coming up, and she’s also been talking to Poplar about how she should maybe move into the mansion across the street to make room for more kids in the family. And who knows? That all might happen. But that’s in the future. Right now, we’ve got this big family right here, all around you. And no matter what changes come, you’ll always be right at the center, and we’ll always love you.”
“Do you love me because I’m the heir?” Salix asked.
“Nope,” said Madrona, “That’s because you’re you. Heir, spare, or ‘I-don’t-care,’ we’ll always love you because you’re you.”