By Amanda Gillooly:
I had a much-anticipated date Saturday with a charming young man. He’s blonde, blue eyed, and has a charming personality, even if he still can’t spell his full name. Just to be clear, I haven’t lowered my dating standards. In fact, the young man is young. Just four. He’s my nephew, Nicholas, and he’s the coolest kid in the world.
Yes, despite my best efforts, I’ve become the one type of woman I never thought possible: I have become a Soccer Aunt.
Let’s go down the checklist, shall we?
-Do you have more than one picture of your nephew in your wallet? (Check)
- Do you annoy coworkers, friends, family, cashiers and random passersby about the newest “cute” thing said nephew did? (Check)
- Do you buy him anything he wants and spoil him with chocolates, Teen-Age Mutant Ninja Turtles Action figures and frequent visits to the local McDonalds for a refreshing Happy Mean? (Check)
But I can’t help it. They say children develop their personalities during their early years, and if things keep going the way they are, my sister, Ashley, has a future smart-ass on her hands. And the worst part might be that he’s an intelligent smart-ass.
And as much as I would like to say that I’ve helped him master the important arts of both making the “rock on” hand gesture and how to successfully construct a makeshift tent in the living room, he’s actually taught me a few things, too.
You know, I’ve been asking questions for years. And as a young reporter, you’re taught to be a comprehensive interviewer, and answer all the important questions. I thought I was OK at the task until I read the book, “Home for a Bunny,” to Nicholas before one of his naps.
The story follows a bunny looking for some digs when spring hits the forest. He hops along each animal he meets, asking if they might let him live with them. After a frog and a robin turn him down, Nicholas would not let me turn the page.
His brow scrunched up the way it always does when his mind is mulling something that doesn’t make sense to him. This time, he just didn’t understand why the bunny couldn’t live with the robins.
“Nick, he’s a bunny, he wouldn’t be able to live in a nest with birds,” I responded.
Undaunted, he asked, “But Aunt Mandy, what if it was a really big nest?”
I forget what I explained to him, but still think it might be the best question I’ve ever been asked.
And he’s quite quotable. When asked where his Daddy was one day, he said simply: “He’s working.” He then informed me that “Daddies go to work and Mommies play on the computer all day.”
While my sister does spend part of her mornings playing into her severe MySpace addiction, she didn’t find it amusing. I couldn’t stop laughing.
And although it’s not always well placed, he’s always candid. During our lunch date at Eat ‘n Park Saturday, he let out the kind of belly laugh that nearly forces everyone in the joint to take a gander at what’s so funny.
He let everyone know, soon enough when he announced loudly that he had just farted. Hey, no one ever said my family was classy.
And for as much as what he says never fails to amuse me, it’s really the unbridled joy he gets from the most routine, simple activities. When he noticed a flock of geese chilling in a baseball field adjacent to the park Saturday, he informed me he wanted to chase them.
Knowing he couldn’t catch them, and really, in a selfish attempt to wear him out so bedtime would come a little sooner, I told him to go for it.
He ran like crazy, rousing the birds and laughing as they squawked and flapped their wings before flying away. He chased them to where they’d land just to repeat it. I, meanwhile, stood in wonder of the jubilant look on his face, and how fast he was running, undeterred by the many spills he took along the way.
We went home, played some video games and went to bed. When we woke up, I had to take him home, which might have been more disappointing to me than him.
Not to be too “cheese-tastic,” but in a world where people sometimes have to play a role to get ahead, or to get respect, or to even respect themselves, I’m glad I don’t have to do that when I’m around the kid.
The only thing he wants me to be is his “crazy” Aunt Mandy. And of all the roles I’ve played, that has been, and will always be my favorite.
(Photo credits: Amanda sees Nicholas in green. Her sister, Ashley Seemann, doesn't.)