““Hi, my name is Giardia, and I am a special disease that can make you very sick.””

Giardia poses for a portrait on our couch. Photo Credit: Dylan Skinner

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This is how the video begins. Perched in front of the camera is a blue, stuffed “Giardia” a friend sent me last year. It has become a part of Dylan’’s stuffy collection, interacting regularly with Sushi, the squirrel monkey, and Sweet Pea, the panda. Later in the video, Giardia invites Sweat Pea on camera to introduce herself. All she says is, “”I eat Bamboo. Bye.””

In the next video, Giardia (the “Kung Fu Master”) and Sushi play fight club. The frames are a blur of lashing flagella and a helicoptering prehensile tail. Sushi emerges victorious, but both agree the match was “awesome.”

I agree. Flagella make for excellent fight scenes, and Dylan’’s version of life with Giardia (aka Beaver Fever) is a lot more fun than the real thing (and the ten days of diarrhea that come with it). Sometimes I find these random videos and photos on my iPhone, and it’’s a million times better than finding a forgotten $50 in your dress pants.

Giardia, Sweet Pea and Sushi race cars. Photo Credit: Dylan Skinner

Geoff and I heave with laughter and experience a weird sort of pride when secretly viewing the videos in our bedroom. It’’s a privileged glimpse into Dylan’’s imagination – a place where parasites that practice martial arts hang out with panda bears who drive remote control cars. A place we don’’t often see when he’’s conscious of other people watching. The influences of Pixar, school, friends and our parenting intermingle in delightfully unpredictable ways.

In the final scenes, Dylan’’s forefinger and thumb appear to help Sushi curl her white fuzzy fingers into a goodbye wave. Then she’’s off to a photo shoot with Giardia and Sweet Pea, consuming several megabytes of camera memory, while posing for Dylan on our couch. I can’’t bring myself to get rid of the pictures. It would feel like I was deleting some part of Dylan that I might never have the joy of encountering again.

Clearly, I am going to need a much, much bigger hard drive.

What were your most loved stuffed animals growing up? Any exotic names?
Niki Wilson

Niki Wilson

Niki Wilson is a contributing editor and writer for Highline Magazine. A writer, journalist and science communicator, she makes her home in Jasper, AB. Other publications include: Canadian Wildlife Magazine, BioScience, Natural History Magazine and the Science Media Centre of Canada, Earth Touch News Network, the Fitzhugh, and Experimental Popular Science. Find more at nikiwilson.com, or on twitter @niki_wilson.


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