Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Favorite

Visiting my sister over Thanksgiving, my little niece Rebekah became very attached to me and kept asking for me for a week. Martha called me up and demanded “What did you DO?” I’d only visited for a couple of days and even then, I’d only spent a couple of hours exclusively with her kids, so she just didn’t get it.

The secret, my friend, is very simple. Give a child your full attention for more than a half an hour, and you’ve made a friend for life.

There are two caveats to this general rule, however.

1. There can’t be any other adults with you when you do this because in almost all situations you will end up talking to the other adult. Full attention is essential.

2. You need to do something that you both genuinely enjoy. Children are surprisingly intuitive and can usually sense if you are watching the clock or just humoring them.

When I was given a $70 gift certificate for a bowling alley at a work event, my eyes began to gleam. The bowling alley is kid-friendly, complete with bumpers and ramp to roll the bowling ball down, and seemed an ideal place to reaffirm favorite aunt status with my younger nieces and nephews in one fell swoop.

Their mothers were incredulous, but willing, and after helping me tackle a few things (like lending me a car with enough seats) and commanding their little ones to stick to me like glue, we were on our way. I blithely trooped into Fat Cats hand in hand with my six little charges--who were all six and under--and handed the boy at the counter their shoe sizes and my gift certificate. He proceeded to tell me they weren’t taking the certificates because it was New Year’s, but when he saw my crestfallen expression, he let it slide.

The kids were adorable! They’d watch the ball so anxiously as it barreled down the lane and if they got even one pin down, they’d wriggle in excitement while their cousin cheering section went wild. Stewart (4) told me with big eyes, “I wonder who is going to win. Maybe all of us will win!” They were all pretty good—spares and strikes happening multiple times— and even more incredibly, they stayed in their seats far more than I had any right to expect.

The nearest catastrophe we had came as a consequence of the two free pitchers of soda they gave us. Near the end, Maddi motioned me over and said, “I need to go to the bathroom.” I hadn’t forecasted this possibility, and taking all six of them to the bathroom was not something I wanted to do. When I asked if she could she could hold it, she replied with a pained expression, “But I already have been for a long time!” So, we wrapped things up pretty quickly and hurried to Anna’s to use the facilities. And not a minute too soon because by the end of the short drive, every single one of them needed to use the bathroom!


Mary Waters said...

Yeah! Sarah is back blogging! I have missed your blogs, sad every time I would check back with no new updates! I love your way with words and the cleverness of your blogs! Keep it up please!


TmeggenT said...

Glad to have you back! I think if I had you for an aunt, you would definitely be my favorite too! As it is, can I have you as one of my favorite friends?

Sarah said...

Welcome back to blogdom!

How bold of you to take that many kids bowling! I'm sure they loved it.

Annette Lyon said...

Yay for you! Aunt of the Year, definitely--especially with little ones so . . . little.

It's a miracle you didn't end up with a potty disaster!