Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Uncles/Aunts (04/17/08)
TITLE: Goose Bumps
By Joanne Sher
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That won't be an issue any time soon, though. Despite my youth (really, 40 is NOT old), I'm considered the old maid of the family. I'm sure it's partly because I AM the eldest sibling of the five of us, and the only one without kids of her own. Steve and I tried for years, of course. But then he got sick and went on up to heaven without me a year or so ago (actually, 1 year, 1 month, and 15 days, but who's counting?). So now I'm alone.
Actually, that's not exactly correct. While I am the only human who lives in my home, it is rarely empty. In addition to Slinky the cat (and the half-dozen mice she refuses to catch in the attic - oh, and don't forget the dust bunnies), there is hardly a day when I don't have a little one speeding about my living room, jumping on my bed, or generally pilfering through my things.
With nine nieces and nephews, most preschool aged or younger, I almost always have a sibling with an emergency, crisis, or scheduling conflict that can easily be remedied by Auntie Jen.
Monday afternoons are filled with curls and somersaults (and homemade chocolate chip cookies, of course) when Penny and TJ take over the house while Mom's at her Bible study. We play leapfrog in the living room and tag in the back yard, and then catch our breaths at the kitchen table with a sweet treat and a side of milk. My baby sister Sarah gets her "Bible feeding time," as she calls it, and I get my weekly workout.
Wednesday afternoon is grocery shopping, and Joshua, Cindy and Makayla wouldn't miss it (Their mother, my little brother Kevin's wife, is grateful for that. With her crazy work schedule, plus watching the kids, it's her only time to be by herself). We skip down the grocery aisles, play catch with the boxed items, and pick up plenty of snacks along with the necessities. Makayla lives for putting the goods on the conveyor belt, and Joshua is an expert bagger: for a seven-year-old, anyway.
And then there's Thursday morning, when Lizzie and I have our time together while Elise is at Pilates. We build castles with blocks, play dress-up, read books, and chat (as much as you can with a three-year-old). She's been talking about the new addition to her family a lot lately. Makes me remember I'll have a new one to dote on in a month or so. She seems a bit leery of sharing her parents. Anyway, all I have to do is remind her she'll be staying with me while Mom's in the hospital and her worrying vanishes into a fit of giggles.
Fridays are another matter. I give each of my siblings a date night once a month, so every Friday evening there's a slumber party at Aunt Jen's for one set of kids or another. We watch movies or play games or tell stories, then snuggle up together in sleeping bags in the master bedroom and snore away. The parents generally join us for breakfast the next morning (I've noticed that my brothers and sisters are always smiling wider when they pick them up than they were when they dropped the kids off).
Of course, there are always the emergencies when I watch a handful of nieces for a doctor's appointment or pick some up from preschool (I am probably the only childless adult with an 8-passenger van). When there's a crisis at home or an ER visit is immanent, I'm your man.
People sometimes ask me if I miss having my own children. Sometimes, but I'm not sure I'd necessarily be any happier or fulfilled. No, I may not have my own little ones, but if I did, how would I make time to be Auntie Jen? I have twenty little feet pattering through my house during the average week, and I get to see them all.
Of course, they can't come in unless they leave their shoes - and socks - on the porch. Gives me goose bumps every time.
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