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10 February 2009

Aunty Sarah

I don't have children. Hmmm, let me re-phrase that. I don't have human children. I am, however, raising 3 labrador retrievers. I think there are some similarities although some would beg to differ. Anyway, any time my 'need to be a mother' kicks in, my sister Susan's 6th sense also kicks in. Susan immediately decides to go out of town but not before she's got me scheduled in to take care of my niece and nephews. I love being Aunty Sarah. I always offer my help because that is what sisters are for, right?

So, just as I'm re-thinking the idea of having human children, Susan calls me to say she's flying to Denver to be with her best friend as she gives birth. This means, all three kids are left home, alone, with dad. Yeah, I know. So, I offer up my services. What can I do, how can I help. I am so excited. Susan tells me that she needs me to take Riley, 14 yo, to his TWO, yes, TWO basketball games on Saturday. Ok, that's cool, I can do that. I haven't seen him play basketball in years. Feeling overly confident, I also offer to take my 4 year old niece, Hope, for the day - after basketball, of course. Susan kindly obliges to my request although I am sure she is laughing inside at my confidence!

Down to business. Saturday morning comes early and fast. Who on earth gets up this early on a Saturday to play basketball? I consider the speech I will give Riley when I pick him up about how important it is to choose hobbies and sports that allow you to sleep in on the weekends. However, when we arrive to pick him up, he is more asleep than we are. His eyes are red, he's eating cocoa puffs - the breakfast of basketball champions, and I think he's seriously contemplating why he chose to do this, too. Hence, there is no need for my speech. Warren drives him to the game and I follow in my own car. Riley doesn't say a word on the way there so Warren begins to give him the 'cool uncle advice' - since talking is sometimes easier than pure teenage silence. Warren proceeds to tell him how he should take all the opportunities he can while he's young - whether it's traveling; dating a lot of girls - instead of just one high school sweetheart; and to be sure he marries a strong woman. All of this advice is met with smirks and silence. Either way, Warren's sure he's at least reached him.

Riley's basketball games turn out to be fantastic. These kids are awesome! They are gangly teenagers who have long arms and legs, messy hair, zits and haven't quite grown into their big feet yet. Warren and I start comparing them to the Blazers. They have a lil' Prizbilla, a lil' Rudy and even an Aldridge. They have potential.

In between games, we take Riley to Taco Bell - his favorite restaurant. He doesn't talk much but smiles at us a lot. Warren assures me this is OK and how teenage boys are when they're with adults. Warren even offers to teach Riley how to drive during this break but he declines, probably quite smart as his eligibility for a permit is around the corner - don't want to mess that up.

Soon Roger arrives with Hope. Hope is not from this planet. But we'll get to that later. After a struggle getting the car seat into my truck, I load Hope up along with her bag of toys and we take off to my house. I'm thinking I've got to take her shopping. It's a girl thing. She must have read my mind because she asks me what we are going to do today. I tell her we will go shopping and then go visit Ruby - another 4 year old who lives down the street from me - who's mom, Jenny, is also a close friend of mine. She's really excited and proceeds to chat non stop as we drive.

We arrive at my favorite store - The Village Merchant. I tell her she can have almost anything she wants. Hope of course goes straight for the jewelry case. She eyes a plastic silver shiny princess tiara. "Oh Sarah, it's so beautiful", she says. She tries it on, I check the price ($2) and we agree it will be purchase number one. Soon we've loaded our hands with a beaded heart necklace and an armful of glittery bracelets. As we get back into the car, she tells me how thankful she is for all this beautiful princess jewelry and how rich I must be. She asks me how much I spent and when I tell her I spent $6, she is in complete awe. "Wow", she says, "You are so rich. My mommy never spends this kind of money on me". I try not to laugh but I also feel quite honored that she thinks I'm rich!

We get home and play with the dogs for a while. She has trouble remembering their names and ends up calling our brown lab - Taco - instead of Tahoe. It cracks me up. Then we head over to Ruby's house. The next few hours are a bit of blur but I do remember endless princess costumes, singing, dancing, yelling, loud yelling, and two girls running through the house with wings attached to their princess dresses. I'm exhausted so I step out for a cigarette. I feel guilty leaving Jenny in there with the two monsters but I need a break. Jenny looks just fine. How can she be fine? This is insane. We end up deciding to cook dinner together so I go home with Hope to make some cornbread. I need some peace and quiet so I turn on the TV to the cartoon channel and set Hope in front of it with a huge bowl of blueberries. Whoever said TV is bad for kids was an idiot and never took time for themselves. I enjoy my peace and a glass of wine while I bake. But before I know it, it's time to go back over for dinner.

We enjoy dinner together with out much ado. Hope actually eats her black bean soup and 5 pieces of cornbread. What is that I see? Her eyes look a little tired! Maybe a mellow evening is ahead of us? She excuses herself from the table along with Ruby. Us adults get to enjoy a conversation and wine. The guys go out for a smoke and Jenny and I start to clean up. (Why do the guys always leave the girls with the kids?) Suddenly we realize it's way too quiet. How much time has passed? We go looking to see what trouble the kids are in. But the kids are nowhere to be found. Frantically Jenny and I search the house. How can two 4-year olds who are louder than a Metallica Concert and a 1 year old disappear? I run outside and ask the guys if the kids are with them. Panic stricken, the drop their smokes and run inside. Jason goes right for the bedroom closet, opens it and low and behold, three kids screaming and laughing at their funny joke. Good lord, I almost had a heart attack. Is it 8:00 yet? That's when Susan's coming to get Hope.

It's bedtime and it's time to go. How do you get a 4 year old who owns the world to clean up the 2000 toys she's spread over the whole house in less than 4 hours? I threaten, bribe, offer more princess jewelry only to get her to pick up a couple of toys. She acts like I asked her to clean the floor with a toothbrush. Geez Louise. Jenny and I get the house cleaned up, we say our goodbyes, Ruby and Hope give eachother big hugs and promise to raise hell again the next chance they get. I walk out of the house with Hope and wonder how I will stay awake for the next 1/2 hour until mom gets here. Suddenly, I hear Mommy. Yes, I do, Mommy is back! Oh I love you, Susan. I love that your plane was on time!

Susan and I hang out for another hour, catching up on the birth of her best friend's baby, the adventures I had with Hope, and then she gathers up the 4 year old monster and takes her home.

Warren and I look at eachother. We can't even talk. I need a shot of whiskey. No, I need to go to bed. We both agree it's really cool to be aunt and uncle for a day. But just for a day. It's nice to be able to give the kids back to their parents. I have no idea where my 'need to be a mother' went but I'm sure it has run far, far, far away, never to be heard from again, or at least, until I need my next fix.

I crawl into bed with my husband and my 3 dogs. I am happy. I love my little family. I love my nieces and nephews. I love that Susan trusts me to take her kids for a day. She knows damn well it's good birth control! And, at the end of the day, I know for sure that I was meant to be a mom, a dog mom, that is.

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