The next generation - Shawn Loughlin editorial
One of the particularly fulfilling aspects of being the parent of a three-year-old is that she’s now become old enough to appreciate things on a new level. Really, what I’m talking about here is that she’s been able to experience and have fun at events that have been part of my life for the last 17 years.
Beginning with The Citizen in October of 2006, I was just 24 years old, I lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Goderich and had left behind just about everyone I knew. Starting over - to a certain degree - like that meant that I didn’t really know a lot of people, nor did I know much about the events I would be covering or the people I would be meeting.
Now, all these years later, I have a wife and two children and they’re coming with me to events like the Huron Pioneer Thresher and Hobby Association’s annual reunion, the Elementary School Fair, the Brussels Fall Fair and Santa Claus parades that I’ve spent the last 17 years covering. But, I’m seeing them through completely new eyes now as a parent.
Saturday at the Thresher Reunion was the latest example and it was just a great time to be a family man. I knew many people on the grounds and many of them knew me. Starting at the Blyth Firefighters Association breakfast and then moving through the grounds, I was seeing people who have known me since that fall of 2006 and now I’m walking around with children of my own and I could see on their faces how happy they were to see Tallulah and Cooper and to see not just how much they had grown in that time, but how much I had.
First, after a neighbour stamped our hands to get into the reunion, we went to the main stage for some music, but it wasn’t really doing it for Tallulah and so we went and saw the animals at the Huron Perth Junior Farmers’ tent. I had to explain to Tallulah the difference between animals you can pet and those you can’t.
From there, we moved on to the fiddle competition, which I knew she would like. The one thing that she did like when we first took her to the reunion last year was when she heard some fiddle music. She started dancing a bit in her stroller and then a bit more on her feet.
I had to drag her out of this year’s fiddle competition, but there was a natural break in the action, so we were able to move on (and I was able to take in some fresh air - those sheds can get pretty warm) and meet up with Cooper and Jess. From there, we headed to the main stage again and the Pierce Country Music band got her toes tapping and she was dancing near the main stage, much to the delight of many of the reunion attendees. However, things really took off when the band took a break to make way for the Teeswater Highlanders pipe band. We made our way over to the ball diamond and Tallulah went nuts for the band. She danced and ran like crazy, clapping and shouting when they finished each song, before asking me if I thought the band would play another song.
The Pierce band would then wrap things up in time for the parade to go ahead. Things went a little sideways with how loud some of the steam engines were, but it was nothing that a stuffed animal purchase and some quiet time in the arena couldn’t fix (sorry to those trying to catch up with us during that time).
Once the coast was clear of steam engines, Tallulah trusted me well enough to return to the parade for the tractors and antique cars.
As I have enjoyed events like these over the years, albeit as a reporter being paid to attend them, it is amazing to watch my daughter fall in love with them all on her own and it really encourages me to stop and reflect on how far I’ve come after all of these years.