Mice and Cheese

My Aunt Spit (Who will hence forth be known as Aunt Peanuts) used to take me to Chuck E. Cheese.

Now, on the face of it, I will grant you this is an utterly unremarkable statement.

What makes it remarkable is that Aunt and Uncle Peanuts don’t have kids. They have nieces and nephews. They were under no obligation to do this sort of thing. They were under no obligation to take a bratty child camping or have her sleep over for the weekend, or buy her just what she wanted for Christmas, or take calls from her when her mother was patently unreasonable. These sorts of things are required from parents. They are gifts from Aunts and Uncles.

As it happens, I have nieces and nephews. I think I might fall totally apart if any of them wanted to go to Chuck. E. Cheese. I can’t imagine it. I adore them all, but I don’t think you would get me there. In fact, I know I wouldn’t.

Or at least I wouldn’t until I remembered Aunt Peanuts. Who did so many things she did not have to do.

This weekend, my favourite wee people are coming to stay for the entire weekend. We are going to the zoo and for a picnic and we are painting the inside of the garage. They are excited about this.

It would be faster, easier, simpler and certainly way more efficient for Mr. Spit and I to paint the garage alone. I have, in my mind, the idea that this is one of those sorts of magical memories you get with non-parents. It’s not about slave labour.

I suspect, if you are 6 and 4, getting dressed up in old clothes, handed a gallon of paint and being told to go at it is about as fun as you can get. It’s the sort of thing that parents, who must be good stewards of time, just don’t get to do. The idea that no one really cares if you paint each other and us, if no one cares if you paint the floor, if you want to use the brush to use the paint to draw pictures on the walls, if you get bored after half an hour.

I had originally conceived this idea. And then I thought it was sheer lunacy. After all, a 6 year old, a 4 year old and a gallon of paint. What could possibly go wrong?

Next weekend, at the end of May, we are off to BC to see another niece graduate high school. We’ll be the two in the back, cheering.

It is a gift this. Oh, it’s not always easy or convenient. It makes extra work. It interrupts our schedule, and the more time we spend together, the more we get set in our ways. There are times when I wonder if it makes any difference.

Then I think about Chuck. E. Cheese, which is as close as you get to love as I can imagine. It is one of those things that only becomes fully apparent as you age.

This is both a thanks – for an Aunt and Uncle who were far more involved than they ever had to be, and a promise – I am paying it forward.

This entry was posted in The language of families, Won't Someone Think of the Children?. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Mice and Cheese

  1. m says:

    love this post. love it.

  2. As a parent of a >4 year old I can tell you that you are absolutely correct that it is not the sort thing a parent gets to do and it is EXACTLY the type of thing a 6 and 4 yr will love and remember. Thank you for being so amazing and being will to be part of the village.

  3. Kiara says:

    Every year, I take my niece somewhere special for her birthday. I never give toys or games or more useless junk she doesn’t really need. We go somewhere together, and she always gets to choose. We’ve been to the zoo twice, and last year was an amusement park with a pool. This year? She’s seven. And wants to go…. To Chuck E Cheese.

    Thanks for reminding me that SOMEDAY she might appreciate it.

  4. Kristin says:

    Your Aunt Peanuts was amazing and so are you and Mr. Spit.

  5. HereWeGoAJen says:

    You are an excellent aunt. (And Mr. Spit is an excellent uncle.)

    So, when you do take them to Chuck E. Cheese, may I suggest getting there when they open? Ours opens at 9:00am and you are pretty much guaranteed the run of the place alone for at least a good hour on the weekends.

  6. linds says:

    Have fun with the kidlets this weekend! I know they will have an awesome time with you guys and I know their mama appreciates it tons! :)

  7. a says:

    My aunts (unmarried and childless) provided for me and my sisters the sorts of adventures and experiences that my parents couldn’t or didn’t think to provide. One aunt took us shopping and out for a nice lunch every year for our birthday. She bought us real art supplies (rather than stuff intended for destructive children) and tried to make us memorize poetry. She read Madeline and Eloise to us. My other aunt took us to Disneyland, helped finance college, and took us out for gourmet dinners where we would hear stories about our grandparents and all the siblings.

    Good aunts and uncles are priceless gems who don’t get enough recognition. Someday, your nieces and nephews will think about how wonderful it has been to have you in their lives. And they’ll probably remember being able to help paint your garage.

  8. Aunt Deb says:

    I think I can speak for most of the “Aunts and Uncles” out there and say the pleasure was ours, and it was a joy to be around you. You gave us as many pleasures as we gave you. The memories still make us laugh. Enjoy your weekend with the kids and I know they will remember it for a long time.
    Don’t forget to let them help you plants some trees too.

  9. Ya Chun says:

    I only ever got to go to Chuck E Cheese once -it was my grandparents who took me. Those are the things that kids remember.

    I think it is important for both the aunts/uncles and the kids that all involved make time for each other.

  10. Neeroc says:

    Well, now I want to come help paint your garage! Have a wonderful weekend.

  11. Yes, chuckie cheese is the ultimate sacrifice for any reasonable intelligent adult. Our local Chuckie cheese sells beer and wine, quite civilized.
    Puberty does have some advantages! No more trips in the tube or ball pit, hey I miss that.

  12. Sarah says:

    My auntie is still looking after me! All of your little nieces and nephews are blessed to have you and Mr. Spit. I know what an joy you are in my life and I don’t even get to see you OR paint your garage!

  13. Gail says:

    Thanks for reminding me that being an aunt can be rewarding and wonderful and that it can also be enough if I never have kids of my own. My niece is only 14 months old, so not much exciting has been done together yet, but I hope we can change that as she ages.

  14. Queenie says:

    Exactly.

    I have amazing aunts who did a million things with me. I don’t have nieces and nephews to pay it forward with, but I do have much younger stepsiblings, and I try to do it with them. I think you get way more back than you give.

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