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.