I did two things when I woke up this morning after a very late night out. First, I sat up and assessed which muscles hurt the most. Second, I looked in the mirror to see whether my Hello Kitty hand stamp had transferred to my cheek or forehead. No, we weren’t the “old” people at a rave; we babysat my nephews last night.
My sister and brother-in-law are headed to a wedding and reception across town, so the Husband and I arrive early, at 4:30pm. I have ice cream and my baseball glove retrieved from the bottom of the closet, by special request from K. I am actually kind of excited about playing catch since it has been decades since I played town recreation softball as a young teen, and the Husband is not even remotely acquainted with a baseball mitt.
Mommy and Daddy get a nice send-off and both boys end up with pink lips from Mommy’s good bye kiss. K. gets rid of his quickly, but D. basks in the glamour. He declares, “I look pretty,” and “Coco likes it.” Coco, the chocolate lab, likes anything that is not flying at her like a missile, so that may be true. Of course, I say, “I love it” when he asks me if I like his lipstick. He looks so happy!
Outside, K. and I take up positions. At 6 and a half, he throws surprisingly far and accurate. Since I know he doubts my skill based on our backyard gaming earlier this year (and that he seems to subscribe to typical male perceptions of what “girls,” or Aunts, can do), I am determined to make this worth his while. I stretch and jump to make catches and throw pop flies and rockets, on his command, so that he can do the same fielding.
I have not had this kind of work out in years and am a little afraid of what I am going to feel like tomorrow. Throughout our game of catch, Coco keeps the ball slimy. The Uncle enjoys a beer on the deck (how does this always happen?) while D. shows him his box of tools, his explanation of uses somewhat dubious.
The next hour or so is a blur of D. learning that there is a strategy to Connect Four, pizza preparation, and brownie baking. These boys have clearly been lectured on “obeying adults” – and K. rattles off all the names of the adults they are supposed to obey, including me – so I am pleased that we quickly get the counter and table cleaned off by my eager little staff.
Then the eating commences, but I use “eat” in the academic sense only. They have food on their plates, faces and shirts, but ingesting seems to happen ONLY when they want to talk. How many times can one person say, “Please don’t talk with your mouth full” at one meal? I don’t know either; I lost count. Despite all of the simultaneous chewing and talking, it takes an eternity for K. and D. to consume most of one piece of pizza each. Uncle, meanwhile, has buried four pieces; it must be nerves.
The brownies cool while we take a short walk around the block in the gorgeous autumn dusk. K. on his scooter easily covers twice the ground I do with back-and-forth, while D. offers various complaints about his big wheel. They each find a white rock (D. will later inexplicably lick his), blow fuzzy “wishes” and marvel at mushrooms.
Since the brownies are not quite cooled when we return, we all head to the basement for a round of Wii bowling. Since I am just as good at Wii bowling as I am at regular bowling, the boys soundly beat me; perhaps next time I will wield the Wii controller like a Samurai as they do. It seems to work even if I had to duck for cover more than once.
Brownie sundaes are sort-of eaten, I text my sister for the location of their 1,000-count bottle of Ibuprofen, and now it’s pajama time.
The boys race up ahead of me and by the time I get up the stairs, D. is stark naked. And very proud. This is the same kid who is so into privacy during bathroom time that I have to stand with my back to the closed door. Where is his modesty now? And, “underpants” is apparently the funniest word they have ever heard. Ladies and Gentlemen, the match has begun.
After easily a dozen inquiries about who is in charge, D. still thinks he is. Luckily, before I resort to screaming threats, I figure out that K. is too good of an audience, so I calmly tell him to go into his room and sit on his bed to wait for me. D., instantly sobered and scrambling around for underpants and pajamas, barely notices when K. wanders back. I pointedly ask him, “Where are you supposed to be?” He about-faces and answers over his shoulder, “Sitting on my bed waiting for you.” Match goes to the Aunt.
We all retire to the living room for Nickelodeon-brand torture. At one point, I think I see a blue cartoon octopus wearing a bowler hat and playing the piano for a pink crab. What’s in that bottle of Ibuprofen?
The boys half-heartedly protest that if they share the couch their feet might touch, but they’re out cold before long. I get them both into bed; their devilish day-faces recede behind their soft, angelic sleep-faces. The Husband and I can’t figure out the TV remote without K., so we stare dazedly at the mercifully blank screen until my sister and brother-in-law get home. The haul tonight is a Hello Kitty hand stamp, a blue post-it, a sore throwing arm and K. reading a book to me, solo, for the first time ever. It’s a win.