I am babysitting for my niece (6) and nephew (8). Today is day three of our big adventure and already, the novelty of Aunt Denise staying overnight has worn off. “When is Mommy coming home?” Grace demands, drizzling coconut milk over a bowl of organic, non-GMO cornflakes. “I’m going to stay up all night and wait for her to come home!” Translation, “It’s been real, Aunt Denise. Beat it.” Cooper, on the other hand, continues to negotiate. “I will settle for 10 minutes of iPad before school today, Aunt Denise!” The first day we started at 20 minutes. “No iPad, buddy,” I respond. “I want to hear about how you think your day is going to go.” “Ugg, not again Aunt Denise,” he says, burying his head in his hands. “And Grace? Mommy said you have to wear your hair in a pony tail because there is an outbreak of lice at school and she doesn’t want you to get it. Oh, and no hugging!” “What? “Grace blurts out, holding her spoon like a weapon. “No HUGGING!” I try not to laugh. “That’s right. Mommy said no long hair and no hugging.” “What does Daddy say?” Cooper interrupts. “What Mommy says,” I retort. He smirks. “Did you finish the sausage?” I ask him. “Yes!” he responds unusually fast. “Really? You finished it all?” I inquire, walking toward him. “Show me your hands,” I ask. “Seriously?” he quips. “Yes, seriously,” I hammer back. “Honestly, Aunt Denise. I finished it. I ate the whole thing.” Cooper has a habit of stretching the truth so I press him. “I ATE the sausage. Look at the evidence?” He points over my shoulder. “What evidence?” I ask. “Over there, on the counter. See? Evidence that I in fact ate the sausage.” He is determined. “You mean this wad of paper towel here?” I question, picking up the ball of white tissue. “Yes! That’s the paper towel you wrapped the sausage in and it’s CLEARLY not in there!” Rather than argue I decide this could be fun. Suddenly, I turn to Grace. “Your Honor. Allow me to introduce Exhibit A, a wadded up paper towel.” Grace giggles. I pretend to wipe a cloth over the palms of Cooper’s hands. He laughs. I take the invisible, soiled towel and walk to the refrigerator. “Your Honor, you will see that when I put this cloth under the super sonic sausage light (holding it under the water dispenser in the door of the refrigerator) let the record show there is CLEARLY evidence of sausage droppings, leading me to believe that the defendant indeed hid the sausage patty in his hands while my back was turned and then tossed the paper towel on the counter as a distraction, hoping I would think he actually ate the sausage. “What the…” Cooper objects. “Your Honor, I say he is guilty as charged! What say you about his punishment?” Grace stands up and thrusts her fist in the air, “I say we tip him upside down and dip him in a pile of hot lava!” “Wow! She’s tough,” I say looking back at Cooper. He leaps from the stairs and I chase him around the counter. In one swift move, I grab him, tip him upside down, and Grace and I pretend to dunk him in a pool of melted poo. The three of us start to laugh and Cooper begs for mercy. “Time’s up,” I cheer, setting Cooper back on his feet. “You see? You didn’t even have time for the iPad, did you?” I smile at Cooper and we high-five it to the car and head off to school. A simple morning. So when my sister calls tomorrow inquiring about sausage lights and hot lava I will simply respond, “At least I didn’t teach them to sword fight.” Thinking back, there were many days, raising my own kids, when I was too tired, too busy, too… something to simply, play. Today, I got a little of that time back.
October 17, 2013