You’ve seen The Husband and I babysit both of my nephews for an evening and you’ve seen me take on after school duty with K. My sister thought this was sufficient training to be “In Charge of K.” for an entire day last week during his Spring break. I accept the challenge as a favor to K. so that he can have a day at home instead of going to my sister’s day care center every day of his vacation.
I arrive at 8:15 AM. I haven’t had to be anywhere that early in six weeks, let alone battle morning traffic to get to the other side of the county. When I walk in, I am met with a barrage from D. – K.’s younger brother and a card carrying member of the local union of 5 year old boys.
I barely have my shoes untied and D. has already demonstrated his new remote controlled car, re-enacted how his marigold seeds germinate and grow, and dictated that we will be playing a round of Hungry Hippos before he leaves with Mommy. Even K. who has just rolled out of bed is befuddled by all this activity. I ask my sister if he is like this when he opens his eyes, but she is too busy packing her day bag, D.’s backpack and making K.’s breakfast to answer.
Once Hurricane D. has left the premises, K. and I settle in to our staycation. We watch an Easter movie (the jelly bean and bunny kind, not the JC and last supper kind) while trying to coax Cocoa the Chocolate Lab to sit near us. You would think a Lab would be ecstatic to sit near her people, but when one of them is the miniature kind that is prone to sudden movement and sound, that’s just not on her wish list.
In the weeks that I’ve been getting K. off of the school bus, we have worked on Cocoa (read as: worked on how K. interacts with Cocoa) with some success. She no longer bolts when K. looks in her direction and he moves more slowly and talks more softly around her. One less circus event.
K. gets dressed while I lie on D.’s bed (K.’s idea – thanks, kid), then we head downstairs for Wii gaming. I have learned that the Wii is not a mere video game. Video games, as I quaintly remember, involve a joystick or paddle with ONE button. Video games involve sitting cross-legged in one spot. After suffering the physical calamities of our games of catch several weeks ago, I had thought the Wii was safe. Wrong. I now sport an arm brace for tennis elbow courtesy of my athletic brother-in-law.
K. and I go on to play 18 holes of golf and three matches of 3-on-3 basketball, thereby dispatching the rest of the morning. I like this day so far!
The ride to return library books unravels into a debate about our lunch destination. I have a handy coupon book and thought he might enjoy an Asian-themed noodle place. I tell him of my lunch idea and he is instantly opposed. I cannot for the life of me figure out why he is wholly rejecting something as innocuous as noodles. Attempting to get him to say that he likes to try new things is somewhat successful, but K. isn’t stupid. Try new things – Yes. Today – No. He wants to go to a family bar-and-grill kind of place for which I do not have a coupon. Game on.
Now, I do not have children of my own which might make me inexperienced. And since I don’t try to gloss over my inexperience by invoking the infamous adult fall-back “Because I said so,” I end up having drawn out conversations/explanations/debates with K.
I do this because I don’t want an unhappy kid on my hands, but I also want him to feel like I treat him respectfully. The noodle place apparently represents some kind of hell. I think, that’s nonsense, just try it. But he is emphatic and I fear that if he doesn’t achieve a meltdown I might. So I finally ask him, what do you want to eat?
The answer comes quickly and decisively. Oh, he has a craving! Okay, I get that. We agree that I will thumb through my coupon book for a comparable place where he can get Caesar Salad. I even confirm the menu online from my iPhone. Match to the Aunt.
After lunch I take him to the Lamberton Conservatory at Highland Park, a modest Victorian greenhouse full of seasonal plants, a tropical room, and a desert room, including turtles, quail, tortoises and koi. I thought we might kill 15 minutes or an extravagant half hour.
Nearly two hours later we were closing down the place. He loved how it smelled full of blooming spring bulbs, how it felt in the balmy tropical room, and found wonder after wonder on every walk through. He actually said that he loved it there and wished he could have a place like that in his house. Yeah, me too.
K. is a genuinely nice kid with an easy going attitude – lucky me! A whole staycation day with him turns out to be quite a treat. I hope he remembers it that way, too.