It’s tough to know what to do with a kid who might be here for a while, but you know that things could change tomorrow, so you’ve got to be ready, all the time.
I love stories like this one — of two daughters in their early teens, both doing well academically and athletically, who happen to have twin home addresses in southern California.
Camera Rob Long recalls what it was like to shoot O Canada at the Beatles – The Historic 1964 Border Crossing in Canada and Los Angeles, and become temporarily Canadian
So a friend one night called me, right before the Border Crossing Project. My friend expressed concern, saying there had been a police report written about the twins. The police officer who had taken the report had gotten confused about the birth years.
The girls were two years apart.
I agreed to fly to southern California to try to solve the problem.
When I got to the twins’ home, I parked in the driveway and walked up to the girls.
My friend was surprised to see that I was Canadian and not a border patrol officer, and asked if they wanted to talk to me.
I explained that I was doing a story about being born in Canada and my decision to live and work here.
My friend had no idea why I would want to talk to them.
She smiled and said: “Be quick, cause we’re really just a phone call away.”
So I did the best I could to answer their questions, as best I could, within the boundaries of federal privacy laws.
I said that I’d love to bring them a cup of coffee, but they couldn’t get a Canadian ID card.
“We’re not that old yet,” my friend was able to explain.
In the past year, I’ve flown back and forth, visiting, and working with them, in a way that mirrors the separation of child-parent households — except they are the children.
The kids’ father is an American and has filed for joint custody.
I learned a lot about the twins — especially about one of them — their name is Gabrielle. She had one older sister, who never wanted to leave, who sent Gabrielle letters. She’s now going to college and is taking the SATs.
So Gabrielle tells me that she doesn’t like the way it feels to be separated.
Gabe loves California, but her two-month-old twin sister gets more attention in the Twin Homes. In Canada she’s the oldest.
So Gabe and her baby twin sister have an experience that no child born abroad should have to endure — emotionally, physically and mentally.
I’ve now done this story twice, and I’m determined to make sure that Canadians understand why I’m fascinated with the plight of this 10-year-old girl, to which they should be indebted.
I’m sure it’s hard for her to be separated from her sister, but I can’t help but think that they’re better off living as twins than apart for another 10 years.
Call me a border patrol officer, just as often as you like.
And show me your ID card if you take Gabrielle to a Starbucks.
Rob Long is a senior producer with Sixty Six Productions and host of Rob Long’s New Coke — which airs Fridays at 8pm ET/PT on Discovery Fit & Health. Follow him on twitter @RobLongNYC.