The day after Thanksgiving I knew my sister was going out with her MIL, SIL and my niece. A “Ladies Lunch” tradition with other female relatives from the in-law side. My BIL was working. That left my nephew home alone. My sister asked me if I had time to spend with him. Originally, I said no but during the day, I realized how grown up he is, how he wouldn’t be around forever so I decided I to take him to lunch.
Teenagers…when did my nephew become one? He’s almost 15. Typical boy. One word answers. A lot of “um” and “IDK” responses. I even expected him to SAY “IDK”. It took awhile to get him to actually “converse” but it went well.
I knew he was struggling with something and wanted to give him some advice without sounding like a grown-up. I told him a story about something that happened to me when I was 13, something I wish my parents had made a different decision about, something I wish I’d pushed for a little harder. I wasn’t feeling regret per se, but pondering the “what if” question. He really listened…he asked me a question or two…then asked to see my cell phone.
For Chanukah, I gave my niece “a day with me”. Now, I know that may either sound very self-centered (like I’m such a special gift) or very lazy (no shopping required!) but for my niece, it’s exactly what she wanted.
My niece is a beautiful, friendly, energetic 15 year old with special needs. She doesn’t “hang at the mall” like most kids her age but that’s exactly what we chose to do.
She was dropped off at a mall near me (there are many) and we walked hand in hand, in search of a particular item she wanted – a velvet pocketbook. Not such any easy thing to find! We checked every store in 2 malls plus Target but never found one.
I was disappointed but she didn’t seem to mind. She was happy to stroll, holding my hand, going in and out of the stores. At the end of the day, after I dropped her off at home, my sister called to tell me the first thing my niece said when she walked in the door was “I had such a good time with Aunt Fran!”.
She reminded me how easy it is to just enjoy time with someone you love. That day, I was a good aunt – because I learned from my niece.
A few times a year, my company sponsors a corporate weekend at NY area zoos and parks, meaning free admission. This year, I’ve treated my sister, niece and nephew to the Bronx Zoo, the Prospect Park Zoo and last week, to the Central Park Zoo. Even my bro-in-law joined us this time.
It was a gorgeous fall day. We saw all of the exhibits -I love the Penquins but the Sea Lions always crack me up. We had a lovely lunch outside and then strolled around NYC siteseeing afterward.
When we were on our way home, my nephew asked what our next trip was. When I told him the season was done- no new places until the spring- he said he’d make a list of where he wanted to go so I could tell my job to be sure they’d be on the list.
I took that to mean he enjoys these excursions. Now I just have to find out who to give his list too :-)
On Saturday, both my sister and BIL had to work so I offered to be on “aunt-duty” in the morning. I don’t need to plan anything special with them anymore, they’re really good kids.
Chef Central was having a food drive so I had the kids go thru my pantry and each pick out 2 items for me to donate. We went to drop it off and received a $10 off certificate to shop with – yay! That gave us something to do – they helped me pick out something for the kitchen.
Afterwards, I took them to the diner for lunch. As a reward, I said they could each order something special.
My 15-year-old niece ordered ice cream – yum! – and my 13-year-old nephew? A Strawberry Dacquiri! When he ordered it, he told the waitress “But no alcohol, please”.
The waitress, and the couple next to us, cracked up! Gotta love that kid.
I wanted to spend more time with the kids before school starts. Since my niece is off at sleep-away camp this week, and they’re all going on a family vacation soon, I don’t have much time. I asked my sister if my nephew might want to do something with me this week. He is after all 13, and not into hanging with me as much as he used to be.
She suggested bowling. He readily agreed, asking if a friend could come.(See?) Fine with me, especially since my sister was able to come too.
So last night we hung out at the bowling alley and bowled 3 games; kids vs grown-up or boys vs girls. We high-fived when we did good, teased each other when we didn’t (yes, we used the bumpers – boy, do those help!). The kids – and the adults – had a lot of fun. I think my nephew enjoyed being with me -once he realized I wouldn’t embarrass him in front of his friend.
Sadly, despite my regular exercise, I am feeling the after-effects today. But a few aches and pains are well worth it. Next time though, we’ll do something a little less strenuous – like napping!
One of the fun perks at my company is “free” weekends (admission) at NY area zoos because they support the Wildlife Conservation Society. Last fall, I took my sister, niece and nephew to the Bronx Zoo. This past Sunday, we went to the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn.
It’s a small zoo, which at first I thought would be disappointing but it actually very special. We got to see animals up close, not all were in cages. The attached picture is a beautiful RED PANDA in a tree 2 feet in front of me! We saw a Wallabee resting on a rock, a OWL sleeping and a 2 DOE’s washing each other. The kids – and adults – loved it.
There’s one more scheduled in October – the Central Park Zoo. I think I’m looking forward to it as much as the kids.
Looking back, I realize I’ve spent a lot of time with the kids in the last 2 months, but not doing anything “special”. Like when I went to my sister’s to help clean out a big storage room and I hung out with my nephew for awhile. Or when I stopped by to drop off some clothes for my sister to try and spent time with my niece while she did her homework.
Again, probably nothing special to them – but totally special for me.
I am aunt to a human nephew and several furry ones. Two adult shelter cats (my Avatar) and one Bengal cat – still a kitten but definitely more wild than domestic.
According to my SIL, he has officially earned his keep. At first, he was a bit clueless about what to do about the “intruder” until the other cats made a fuss when they saw it.
She assured me that they felt sorry for the mouse and took it away to set it free – outside – despite Frankie’s growling. Hopefully, the mouse returned to his village and warned them to stay away from the monster’s house.
On Saturday, I met my sister and the kids at the movie theater for the early show – we saw MJ’s “This is it”. I paid for the kids and my sister paid for their drinks -she packed little baggies of Halloween candy for them – she’s so smart!
The movie was documentary-style, filmed rehearsals and interviews. The dancers he picked for the show were amazing: definitely talented but talk about washboard abs!
The music was great – how could it not be? Beat It, Billy Jean, Thriller, old Jackson 5 tunes…my niece and I were dancing in our seats.
It was interesting to see how shows are put together. The technology, the number of people involved, the rehearsals. My nephew seemed to enjoy this.
I enjoyed the film but it was also sad. Knowing he died just days after some of this was filmed, knowing that what would have been an amazing concert tour would never happen. My niece and nephew seemed to enjoy the movie although it was a little long (2 hours).
On the way home, I showed them the Blue Tooth installed in my new car and let them call a few people. I think they enjoyed that more than the movie! Go figure – I could’ve saved $30 and just driven around letting them make phone calls!
Tomorrow my sister and I are going to take the kids to the movies. We’d planned to see “Where the Wild Things Are” but the kids really want to see the MJ movie. So…that’s what we’re going to do.