So today I figured out I’ve grown up a little more.
I found great joy in making a mess. And I didn’t rush around to clean it up.
My little nephew, a precious and bright 17 month old fella, figured out that if he pushed on the handle of this–
that water squirts out.
And that if he aimed it just so it would hit him…..or me…..in the face.
And we laughed and laughed.
And then he pushed on it again.
Before it was over, he was a bit wet, my arm was soaked and there was water all over the recliner where we were perched together quite comfortably.
And it did not bother me one bit.
I’ve thought about those moments today, and what my own children would have said if they were watching instead of being outside playing with their older cousins or working at a job.
They probably would have looked on incredulously.
“You never would have let ME do that.” I can hear it in my head as though it actually happened that way.
Why? Because I have said those words so many times to my own parents.
The folks who raised me did not hang around for long.
See, there were three different couples going by the same names who resided at Blackberry Flats over the years.
First there were my parents–the ones who made me toe the line and do what was right. The ones who stayed on me hard and expected me to do my best and pick up my room and contribute to the household by doing other things as well.
And then there were my brother’s parents. Somewhere in the nine years between my birth and his, my folks took off and his showed up. Oh, they were tricky–used the same names, looked very similar, but they were Not. My. Parents.
Instead these were the folks who were less strict about bedtimes, who did not insist their son wear shoes in the middle of winter (“if his feet get cold, he’ll put some on”), and whose bedding requirements had changed drastically. (He did not have to keep a top sheet on his bed complete with the mandatory hospital corners–bottom sheet and comforter only. Why I never!)
And then, nearly eighteen years later, we discovered that those folks had flown the coop too.
In their places, the grandparents.
The people who took on loving my children acted nowhere near like the folks who had taught me right from wrong. Oh, they still made my crew toe the line and pick up their toys, but these folks let these children do all kinds of things we had never been allowed too. The woman posing as my Mama loved to let my oldest use a knife to cut up different foods when I was nowhere around. They had tea parties and whiled away afternoons reading books and playing with cars and hoola hooping. One time they bought a trampoline and had it waiting in the backyard for my oldest to arrive…..and then proceeded to jump with her. Their predecessors NEVER jumped with me.
And so tonight I had a giggle, thinking about those folks and who they became. I guess I’m really on my way, because my crew would probably be right. I don’t think I let them play with a spray bottle when they were little. We tried not to make messes and we stayed as clean and dry as we could and if we were going to get wet, we put on bathing suits first. Because that’s what we do.
But now, now I’m an aunt who is fun (or tries to be) and who wants to dote and laugh and giggle over the silliest of things. Or just sit and hold napping babies who are pretending to be asleep while I pretend I don’t know they’re awake, just so we can sit and do nothing more important than be together and love each other and create memories and stories to share for years to come.
As for these folks whom I’m raising, they’ll have good stories too–the ones who start off with my “Mama left when my baby cousin was born and some other doting, willy-nilly silly person took her place. Looked just like her, but she was not the one who raised us.”
Yep, I like that I started that story for them today.
Y’all go do something unexpected and surprise folks who know you today.
Love to all.