There I was again, driving to my sister’s house hours before dawn. It’s President’s Day and I have Aunt duty with nephews K. & D. My brother-in-law and I do the whispered baton-pass in the dark kitchen – he heading out to work, I heading straight to their living room recliner.
After fumbling with their TV remote for a few minutes, I give up trying to find my morning news program and settle in for as much extra winks as I could get before two little boys wake. I get in a solid hour before D., the younger, wanders in with DeDe and Snow Leopard tucked under his arm. [These ultra-soft buddies travel everywhere with him. I can relate – I still have a certain Mr. Bear who had seen the inside of many school bags before he retired a little over 3 decades ago.]
We give each other a sleepy-eyed nod as I hand him the TV remote. D. immediately asks, “What did you do to the TV?” Um, I don’t know. Really. I don’t.
“Did you press this button?” Probably. I pressed a lot of buttons looking for my program, to no avail.
“Well, don’t ever press this button. It’s bad. But I can fix it. ” Great. Now please lower the volume – it’s really too early for SpongeBob. At any decibel.
K. eventually wanders down and I eventually serve them cereal. The boys drag me downstairs to find a DVD movie that they urgently want me to watch – Bed Time Stories. Once again, I am astonished to see so many Hollywood actors and actresses acting so hammy in a “kid” movie. We all have bills to pay, I guess.
Then the inevitable happens. We get about 20 minutes from the end of the movie, and the boys have become bored and want me to take them downstairs to the playroom. Do you know what’s worse than having to watch a movie that doesn’t particularly interest you just because someone you love asks you to? Not getting to see it through to the bitter end.
Not this time, boys. You are old enough to go downstairs by yourselves, and do whatever you want down there – but I am seeing the end of this movie!
“We’ll tell you how it ends! He’s eating ice cream and gets stung by a bee and he talks all funny and –” Nope!
I calmly point out to them that this is not the first time they’ve cut off a movie before I get to see the end… and I. AM GOING. TO SEE. THE END!
So… we all sit down and watch it. The guy saves the school, gets the girl and gets his dream job. The end. It is not serious cinema, but I can tell you that the mood of the audience is very reflective.
We make crafts and the boys get dressed. We play Hawaii Five-O where my crime, the chase, and arrest are carefully choreographed in the upstairs hallway. “Jail” is a folding chair (at least I get to sit down), and my interrogation is very loud and confusing (and true to crime TV):
“Why did run?” …You told me to?
“Why did you kill this man?” [Shown picture of stick man.] … I didn’t?
“We know you did it! Don’t lie!” …Wait, what?
Just then, a poor decision is made involving a karate belt wielded like a whip. The poor-decision-maker is aghast that he has actually disarmed his police partner of his blue squirt gun. There are tears, regrets, recriminations and apologies. Interrogation over. Lunch. (Good timing. It’s been hours since my pre-dawn breakfast.)
Apparently, I make the best scrambled eggs. My microwave-bacon skills are pretty awesome, too. We clean up and begin the long, arduous task of trying to leave the house to meet my sister at the Conservatory for an afternoon among tropical plants. I text her that we’re getting ready to leave.
The boys select, de-select, and re-select jackets, hats, gloves and shoes. D. digs out a pair of soccer cleats and proceeds to show me how he can tie his shoes all by himself…the agonizingly meticulous shoe-tying of a five year old. In triple knots. Just as he finishes, K. glances over and says, “Mommy doesn’t let him wear those.” Hmmm.
I ask D. if this is true. The averted-gaze answer seems to be yes. I explain that I will let him wear the cleats, but since he knows the shoe rules, he has to be prepared for whatever Mommy says when she sees him. D. goes to get a pair of less-fun sneakers, and says over his shoulder that I can tie the laces for him because I will be faster.
D. and I hang our bird feeder craft on the front tree while K. knocks icicles off of my car bumper. Everybody is finally buckled in when my phone rings. My sister asks where we are and I say that I am just about to pull out of the driveway. She bursts out laughing.
Stay tuned! The schedule shows that our next installment of Adventures in Babysitting may feature an overnight…