It would be great if my sister and I could switch kids under nice happy circumstances. But that’s not how it works. I spent the last three days of 2009 helping my sister and her husband. This involved a lot of quality time with my two nephews and niece which I never get without my own offspring running around. They told me that I’m the best cinnamon toast maker, the best piano player and the best story teller but they prefer their babysitter because she lets them watch more youtube. I assume that’s where five year old Hannah acquired her love for Lady Gaga. I share that too, but I’m not sure how I feel about her shaking her booty to it. And the kid can really shake it. She also does a mean “Girls just wanna have fun” I’m thinking she did not get any of this at the Waldorf School. Oh and they don’t teach her letters at school but she does know how to write her name in the google bar —for this her parents earned themselves a budding Hannah Montana Fan. They are thinking about some sort of cloistered situation but it’s probably too late already. Ethan the four year old who has the roundest head and the biggest blue eyes you’ve ever seen joins a long line of potty training mishaps and is currently exploring the poop accident which his mother was kind enough to allow me to help with. I’ve trained our third child to insist that only Daddy can handle such situations so this shows real love. Ethan seemed a bit confused by the whole Santa thing and each morning checked under the Christmas tree to see if Christmas had come again. Ethan is one of those kids were you can’t decide if he’s a secret genius or just not all there—Manuel’s theory is genius. He can also hit a soft ball and has a hell of a pitching arm. When he got mad at me and threw a duck at me it hurt. The little one Jacob says very little but understands everything and watches carefully. He’ll be trouble.
The kids performed like perfect angles for me. (At points they were wretched for their Mother so I’m glad to know it’s not just my kids whom other people think are lovely when I’m ready to kill them) Hannah and Ethan helped our friend Kathleen and I cook all kinds of food for Nini (their grandmother) and I. They especially liked the meatloaf prep which involved smashing it around a lot with their hands and the spotted porcupine cookies which involved sampling m and m’s. Bizarrely they remembered making a gingerbread house with Kathleen last x-mass and wanted to do that again. There was also a lot of incredibly sweet singing with the new and fabulous piano. This involves an almost operatic vibrato and dainty posture not to mention the newly invented rubber band on pretzel bag percussion instrument. I did have the slightly guilty feeling that in taking care of my sister’s kids I was more present for them than I often am for my own. But that I hope, counts as the privilege of the drop in. I also bribed them with dark chocolate enough that by the end of my stay the baby carried over my back pack when he wanted a snack. We had elaborate meetings in which all three sat demurely in a circle and promised to be especially helpful to Mommy and Daddy. Each day it lasted for about 90 minutes.
My sister does live in one of the most amazing houses I’ve ever seen and the silver lining to getting up at 5 with my nephew was watching the sun rise up over the snow—it looked like a post card. The down side is they appear not to believe in insulation or heat. And I’m still cold three days later. I also almost sent the dog Gretsky to a bad fate. He wined to go out and I let him without realizing that what he wanted was to make friends with a fox—oops.
Rebecca, Jonathan and Eli meanwhile stayed with my parents and seemed none the worse for the wear. Jonathan was heavily immersed in the Arabian Knights by the time I got back. Rebecca had made a mask, felted mittens, and various other items. She gets the crafty thing from her Aunt Pami and Joyce both of whom have been known on rainy days to turn furniture into art. We made it back at about 9 on New Years eve just in time to see the cville fireworks go off from the middle of our street. Eli slept until 10 on New Years day. Rebecca has taken to doing her own hair and it’s the quaff to end all quff’ and the various art projects embedded in it make an especially nice touch.