Thursday, December 10, 2009

Being an Aunt VI

Luckily for me when my nephew Sheldon called to see if I could watch his daughter so he could take a two-hour exam, I had run four miles earlier. I had spent many hours with him and my other older nieces and nephews as kids. We still meet for lunch and shopping sprees. Most are in college, high school, and middle school. I haven't spent one on one time with the really younger ones. My youngest niece, my sister's daughter, is two years old, the same age as Destinee. But they live four hours away so babysitting duty has been pretty much not necessary; plus, they have a nanny. There are eight kids. My sister says that she's finished. This time I think she's serious. We thought that she was trying to catch up to our mom.

When Destinee arrived, I had to first calm her down after screaming for her dad for about 15 minutes straight. I offered her all kinds of treats, including a treasured windup music box which only caught her attention intermittently. I had to keep saying "Shhh, can you hear the music?" She would stop crying enough to help me wind the music box up again, but start wailing again. I jumped around, sang nursery rhymes, and got on my hand and knees playing "peek a boo." She was fascinated by my actions but was still bent on going with her dad. I thought she would never stop screaming. But she did calm down eventually and we had a snack and headed to Borders.

As with most of the Ellis clan, she is as independent as any. She just walked through the children's section of Borders like she was home and had so much to say about each and every book, stuffed animal and rattling trinket. I guess they put things in little bins so kids can reach them easily. But, boy, did I have to walk through with arms loaded with things, asking her to put toys back in bins when she was finished with them. I had to tell her each time that she could only get one of each instead of three of the same with slight variations. She never actually chose two of the exact same toys. I thought this was very perceptive of her. She was very discerning. (Did you notice her facial expression in the photo?) She just wanted so many things.

"Which do you want?" I asked, putting the load of things that I had in my hand on the floor to hold each up. "This one or that one?" "That one." "Okay, good." But it wasn't for me as I could barely hold one more thing and follow her too. Do they have baskets at Borders? A few times I wanted to go and look but I could not take her away from the toys and books long enough to find one and I was already a bit nervous about keeping an eye on her every single second in such a busy store. She was walking around like she knew the store well and she knows no strangers.

After about an hour, I was exhausted. I had run four miles earlier, but it was like I hadn't. I think the stress of running behind her with arms packed so high and dropping things occasionally (Why didn't I just stack them up somewhere until we were ready to go?), seeking to teach her lessons as we walked about from bin to bin and book to book, and keeping an eye on her every single second was a bit taxing to say the least. "Come, Destinee, let's read a book." I was happy she thought this was a good idea because I needed a break. Other kids thought it was too because they gathered around as if it was story hour. I learned how to tell stories from my Aunt Dorothy who often took me with her shopping and to her house for tea and biscuits. There were mini stories always, lessons in behavior that were quite fun.

Watching Destinee I also remembered just what an amazing mother we had. She raised 12 children alone without losing her mind. She was always calm, fun, and steady, even when inside she must have wanted to loose it. She never did. We left Borders with a big bag of goodies. On the ride home she went to sleep. I guess she was exhausted too. On the way to Borders we sang songs the entire way, many of which I made up. I got that from my mom. For all of my older nieces and nephews she composed a special song for each at their births. They still sing them today. One that I particularly love is "Grandma's baby 'leepy." Roberto used to say, "Grandma, I'm 'leepy." He was the only niece or nephew who would actually ask to take a nap. Most were super rambunctious and would run until they dropped.

The kids used to keep me hopping. But they also knew quite well that there were certain boundaries that could not be crossed and that they had responsibilities, as I insisted upon for Destinee, even at her young age, like putting toys back in the bins when she finished playing with them. I was not opposed to tapping their little hands too. They loved me, but I insisted on discipline. When Sheldon left he said, "I know she'll be okay. You were so good with us. Thank you so much, Auntie Judith." "It's going to be fun, Sheldon." Yep, it was really fun, but when he arrived I was happy to see him. But there will be a next time and I will be happy to see her again.

11 comments:

Strawberry Girl said...

So Nice Judith!! I love how you describe being an aunt, and the way that your mom used to make up songs and such... and her strength! How inspiring Judeth! :)

Judith Ellis said...

Hey Strawberry Girl! It's really good to see you. It's been a while. Hope all is well. I'm happy you appreciate the post. Yes, my mom and aunt were extraordinary women. I'm going to pop over to your blog. I enjoy reading your poetry. It's beautiful.

rebecca said...

What a beautiful little girl. Yep, seems very independent alright! I was smiling as I was reading through and envisioning you following this little thing exhausted with hair all disheveled (perhaps?). Kids. They'll kill you if you let them....Good for you, Auntie Judith, that you survived!! LOL!

Judith Ellis said...

Survive, I did, Rebecca! LOL! I was wearing my Michigan cap and hoodie, so I was well prepared. :-)

Brosreview said...

A nice read! I smiled all the way! I was not close to the extended family to experience being close to an Aunt. But, yes, I can recall my mum's stories and songs for me! Thanks for bringing back some sweet memories!

Judith Ellis said...

Ajey, my young talented friend, you are sweet, strong, and most gifted. Someone loved you or you found the strength to simply be who you are. Thanks for that. You're inspiring.

septembermom said...

She's a cutie! I wish she could play with Jillian. You and I could watch them chase each other around.

What a lovely post Judith!

Judith Ellis said...

Thanks, Kelly. I love Jillian. She's beautiful. She also says the cutest things.

Corrie Howe said...

I love playing with the babies at church and then giving them back to their moms. And I think their moms appreciate about an hour break each week. :-)

Judith Ellis said...

He really appreciated it, Corrie. I suspect that I will have a few more hours with her again soon as the semester is winding down.

Linda S. Socha said...

What a lovely post Judith.I could almost feel the spirit of this child....and the making up songs...so like my mom too and something I continued with my children to this day.
I appreciate you.
Linda