Saturday, March 08, 2008

Back, briefly

I am off to Wellington tomorrow, but for tonight I am back in Auckland, after a rather hideous four days with a few good bits thrown in. I will omit the hideous bits for now, and instead tell you about one particular nephew, six years old (I have three six-year-old nephews) who is the perfect child, and his less than perfect but ridiculously charming two-year-old sister.

Yesterday, nephew was circling the lawn on his little bicycle, and commented on some toys he was having to avoid. These toys, of course, were his sister's. (He would never leave his toys lying around.) He picked them up, then started off on his bike again.

"Last time I saw you she wasn't born yet," I said. "Do you like having a little sister?"

"Yeah," he said, as he went past.

He went around again, and on the next round added,

"Not really."

"Why not?" I asked.

He did a couple of thoughtful circles. Then, as he passed again, he stopped and sighed.

"It's the noise," he said. He sounded about 100 years old.

It is true he has always been a very quiet boy, and the noise his red-headed sister is capable of is extraordinary. But it occurred to me that perhaps, because of his own quietness and politeness and prematurely adult behaviour, and because of the attention his thrill-seeking, loud and funny sister demands and gets, perhaps he is missing out a little on the attention he deserves. I determined to spend a little time with him after his sister had gone to bed.

In the meantime, we played on the 'ramp.' The ramp is a bit of grassy lawn that goes downhill sharply in the backyard, a little too steeply for him to ride his bicycle. So I rode his bicycle (incredibly awkwardly, knees and elbows sticking out everywhere) and he rode his sister's three-wheeler. His sister tried to join in by running down the ramp, but ended up huddled down by the gate, a bit worried that we were going to run her over. There she stuffed her mouth full of white stones she'd found somewhere. I decided not to worry about that, since at least they stopped her from yelling. Every time we shot down the ramp (me skidding sideways and frequently wiping out - small bicycles are VERY difficult to control) she staggered back against the fence and spat out another stone or two, watching us warily. It was the first time I had seen her stay so quiet for so long. He and I, on the other hand, were laughing and shouting and carrying on like, well, six-year-olds.

After a while I stopped beside him and whispered,

"We've been making more noise than your little sister."

He looked at me. Then he looked at her. She stared, spat out another stone, and grinned.

After his sister had gone to bed (great drama! End of the world!) he was on his bike again, and this time he had a pump-action spray bottle filled with water. He was going around the lawn again, but stopping now and again to spray plants, or some patch of lawn. I asked him what he was doing.

"I'm putting out fires," he told me.

"Oh, I see," I said. (Earlier he'd been reading his favourite book to me, which was about a bush fire.)

After a while I said,

"Look! There's a fire over there! Quick!"

He cycled to the spot I indicated, and sprayed madly. Then he got back on his bike and looked at me expectantly, a little grin on his face.

"Oh my goodness!" I shouted. "Your hair! A spark must have got in your hair! It's on fire!"

He giggled. Then he aimed the nozzle at his own head and sprayed.

I sent him round the garden madly putting out fires while I reclined in a deck chair with a post-dinner glass of wine, remaining bone-dry myself. (Did I mention that this child is ridiculously polite? I would never dare play this game with my other nephews.) I pointed out some ducks flying overhead and told him they were running away from a fire, so he had to go in the opposite direction to put it out. Then, as he was coming back from that one, I stood up and pointed,

"Your pants are on fire!" I yelled, urgently. "Quick! There are flames shooting out of your bottom!"

He stared, and I got the distinct impression that I'd just said the silliest thing he'd ever heard from a grown-up. Then he laughed, fell off his bike, grabbed the bottle, aimed it at his own bum, and sprayed.

I was SO proud. That kid is usually so careful and thoughtful it is spooky, but I had him spraying the flames that were shooting from his nostrils, the back of his neck, his toes, and everywhere else I could think of until he was thoroughly soaked and had giggled himself into exhaustion.

After his bath I went to say goodnight. As I gave him a big cuddle, I said, quietly,

"Today, we were noisier."

He lay down and closed his eyes, and a sleepy smile spread over his face as he remembered.

"Yeah," he whispered.

And just for a moment, I felt like a Good Aunt.


Carrie said...

Awwwww! You are such a good aunt! What a great story.

fallensnow said...

That was beautiful. It must have been the best day of his life. You're a great aunt! =)

The Editter said...

Badaunt's coming to Wellington, Badaunt's coming to Wellington!

*waits with anticip-*

Keera Ann Fox said...

Well, you did say the silliest thing. And I would have loved to have joined you two! Definitely Good Aunt.

Pkchukiss said...

Reading that caused me to miss playing pretend like I did in my childhood :)

Lia said...

You *are* a good aunt. What a great kid!

Cheryl said...

He sounds adorable.
What wonderful fun!