(Yes, I have said their names and shown their pictures before but that was before I really thought about it).
Anyway, you don't really want to hear about them - you probably really want to hear about how I, a mostly kid-averse person fared with a sleepover, a mall trip, Chuck E. Cheese, and a Mexican dinner with a kid who claimed to hate Mexican food. And I hate to disappoint you, but basically I'm an awesome aunt.
I was 16 when I found out my step-sister was pregnant and I mostly couldn't have cared less. She and I didn't grow up together, so it was more like a distant cousin having a kid who would be another distant cousin. But M was born and I got to hold her in the hospital the day she was born, and it was different. She felt like mine - a kid who I would get to see get older, who I could teach things to, and who I never wanted to feel distant. My mom babysat her during her preschool years, so we got very close. When she was around five, her mom moved to Louisiana and more recently to Oklahoma, but our bond is still there. She once said, as an eight year old walking through Walgreen's to buy markers, and she said again this weekend that I feel like more of a cool older sister than an aunt. And I love her for it. I always want our time to be spent doing something, rather than just watching a movie or sitting in the same room without actually spending time together. And the same goes for V, even though by the time she was born I was ecstatic to be an aunt again and somehow she knows Aunt Lauren will almost always say yes, which is what shaped our time together.
Poor Uncle Andrew was overrun with girls in the house on Thursday night, which was mostly uneventful, save for V's fear of the Blue Dog pictures hanging in the hallway. She said their eyes were creepy. On Friday morning, I upped my cool factor by taking them to get donuts in their PJs. Is this frowned upon by real moms? We got dressed and went to the mall, where I had to subject myself to Hot Topic for half an hour and M tried to convince me that her mom would let her put plugs in her ears (Aunt Lauren definitely said no to that). V and I took a dizzy spin on the carousel in the tea cups and then we were off to Chuck E. Cheese.
My plan of attack with V was to tell her that we had x dollars and when it was gone, we were done. She got that pretty fast. I got 80 tokens and we went to see what the mouse had in store for us. It was pretty early in the day and not that crowded, so besides a few common six year old moments, it was pretty easy. The three of us went through the tokens in a little over an hour and had 200 tickets to show for it... or the equivalent of $2. V couldn't have been happier and chose a spiky blue ball from the prize cabinet and thanked me for her "terrific day." So that made it all worth it.
Pics to prove we were there - V playing the ship game (her favorite, apparently) and M playing basketball.
That evening, my parents wanted to take M out to dinner to give her some one-on-one time, so V got to go to dinner with Andrew and me. She wanted Chick-fil-a, but I wanted real food so we gave her her first taste of queso (she was convinced she hated Mexican food), ordered the chicken fingers on the kids menu to avoid a fight, and took her to a bakery after. What fun is there in being an aunt if you can't ply them with sugar and send them off, right?
Both girls were so sweet and appreciative and I'm so glad we had our day to just hang out. It was more tiring than I thought it would be, but so much more rewarding than I expected. I'm so grateful for our bond and happy to be their aunt and that even though M gave Uncle Andrew all her cool points, she was still willing to hang out with me. I guess what I'm constantly reminded of with these two is that it is what you make it - I could be boring with them, put in an appearance when they're in town, and leave, but instead I choose to put forth the effort. To take my oh-so-valuable vacation days and actually do something. It pays off more than enough. I'm not applying for sainthood for this by any means, but it gives such great perspective - what else could I gain from life if I took the initiative to give up something of value, planned more, and stopped saying no right away? Surely that would be worth at least a few dozen more cool points, if nothing else.