I am not a photographer. These are not good pictures. One of them isn’t even my picture. But these pictures accurately tell the story of the 2016 Carnival for the Crawford-Peyton family.
We went to Muses. It was cold. It was crowded. It was amazing. And Ruby, thank God, caught a shoe – after it bounced off of her face. You can still see tear smears on her face here, but you can also see her beaming proudly. She didn’t even hesitate before declaring: “A shoe from the last rider on the last float? Totally worth it!”
Georgia learned all about Carnival at school, from the meaning behind the colors (Errol Laborde may disagree) to the significance of the baby in the King Cake. She and her classmates made masks and beads and attended the pre-K/kindergarten parade, and I was happy all over again to be raising my kids in the city where I grew up.
OK, so this is a stock photo. But Ruby attended a crawfish boil with her dad on Endymion Saturday, and other than the Muses shoe, I think it was the highlight of her Mardi Gras season.
“So I ate like 100 crawfish,” she told me excitedly the next day. “And then someone said, ‘Um, kid, you should probably slow down on the crawfish.’ And I said, ‘Listen, this is my first crawfish boil of the season. I’m going to eat crawfish until I don’t feel like eating crawfish anymore.’ And then I ate like 200 more crawfish.”
“Do you peel them yourself?” I asked her.
“Um, of course I peel them myself,” she said disdainfully. “I learned how to do that three years ago. I don’t count on other people to peel crawfish fast enough for me.”
And I was struck with wonder at how many parts of your very own child can exist and thrive without your input or even really your awareness.
I don’t know how people managed Carnival season before social media and cell phones. I sent and received about a dozen of these types of messages over the season, all in the particular language of Carnival: which float, which side, which position. It’s fun no matter what, but Ruby especially gets a kick out of spotting people she knows when they’re masked and handing her huge bags of Mardi Gras loot.
And then this was my Fat Tuesday. While Ruby braved the cold with her dad, I stayed in with a sick Georgia, who spiked a 102 fever and spent most of the day sleeping on me and occasionally saying, in her most pathetic voice, “I don’t want to feel like this anymore, Mommy.”
All in all, it was a good time. I’ve had better; I’ve had worse.
But for now, I’m happy it’s behind us – and I can’t wait to do it all over again next year.