Charming Children

Stories about my niece and nephews as well as other children in my life.

Want Fries With That?

The title of my blog is now a little misleading. I am no longer a TOTAL lady of leisure. I have acquired a part-time job at the local library, and with that job comes stories. Today was no different.

During customary checkout procedure I take a patron’s card, scan it, and then scan the items being taken home while making sure to unlock any media items and demagnetize almost everything. A woman approached the counter with a young boy who was probably no older than 11.

Now, we all know that kids this age know everything and will continue to know everything until they are about 30. This boy was no different. He thought nothing of placing his mouth on the edge of the chest-high portion of the counter while waiting for his mother.

Mom, on the other hand, thought something of that. Upon glancing over and seeing her son lip-locked with the counter’s edge, she immediately told him not to do that. Of course the boy removed his lips, waited for his mother to turn away, and then placed them back on the smooth surface. I have no idea what tasted so good to him.

Now, I couldn’t let an opportunity to teach the young lad a lesson go to waste. However, boys this age don’t get scared and don’t get grossed out. Ever. I mean, what would their friends think? Still, I felt he needed to know something important about that counter top. Donning my sternest librarian face and keeping my expression deadpan and serious, I asked, “Do you know how many people put their hands there after picking their noses?”

Beep, beep. I continued scanning, glancing up long enough to see him look at me to see if I was joking. Keeping my face locked in a serious expression, I saw the horror spread over his face slowly. It was a lot like the opening scene of the semi-recent phantom of the opera movie when the screen goes from black and white cobwebs to a full color, gas lit opera house.

“Betcha didn’t think about that,” his mother said, seeming to play into my hands. The horrified expression remained on his face until he turned to walk towards the door. “Have a nice day,” I called after him. I wanted to add, “Want fries with that?”

The Proof Is In the Way He Holds A Doll

To be a judge for the Great Stork, you have to really know your stuff. You have to know what little boys like, what little girls like, what they expect out of a sibling of the same sex, what they expect out of a sibling of the opposite sex, and so on. I have recently been reviewing applications for boys who say they want a little sister and giving my reports from their auditions to the Great Stork. In the end, it is the Great Stork’s decision who gets a sister and who gets a brother, but I make the recommendations based on what I observe during the auditions.
Recently, I went to the home of a little boy who was getting his first younger sibling. Taking the form of a fly, I sat quietly on the wall as his friend, who had brought along a little sister, engaged him in play. Now, if a little boy wants to be the big brother of a little girl, he must be very special. He must be patient and kind and willing to play by her rules. This little boy started off fairly well. He fed the doll in its high chair gently. However, when he went to pick the doll up out of the chair, he grabbed her by the head. Big mistake! Dolls must always be treated like babies—with great care and gentleness. I recommended that this little boy get a brother.
A few blocks down, another little boy was having a tea party with a neighbor girl about his age. She asked him to pour, and I knew this would be a great test. He held the teapot over the cup, but lingered too long, and she told him he had spilled tea all over the table. Worse still? It didn’t seem to bother him and he didn’t offer to clean it up. He, too, will probably get a little brother. Little brothers don’t mind messes. In fact, they rather enjoy making them.
Then I came across young Garrett who was visiting his aunts, uncles and grandparents at his Aunt Brenda’s house where his young cousin Adelyn lives. Now since Garrett wasn’t at his own house, he didn’t have his usual toys, which meant he would be playing with Adelyn, an interaction I just couldn’t miss.
Again, I sat on the wall in the form of a fly and observed. I’m surprised his Aunt Brenda didn’t find and swat me. At first, Garrett and Adelyn played the gender neutral game of balloons. He gave her first choice of colors between green and purple rather than just claiming the green one, so he passed that test. She chose purple anyway. They bopped the balloons into the air, Garrett taking great pride in getting his to hit the vaulted ceiling, a very boy thing to do but not anti-girl. Then Brenda suggested to Adelyn that she show Garrett her room, which he seemed genuinely excited to see.
Moments later, Garrett pranced out of her room pushing a small, pink umbrella stroller with a doll in it. He didn’t look sheepish or embarrassed, so he passed that test with flying colors. He even had a big smile on his face. Adelyn followed behind with more dolls in a tiny pink wagon. Garrett asked her what the doll in his stroller’s name was and she answered, “Shelley.” Score 3 for Garrett!
Garrett parked the stroller next to the couch and took the doll out of it, holding it gently like a baby which seemed to please Adelyn. He rocked it, fed it, and put it to bed saying, “Goodnight, Shelley.” Garrett didn’t balk about pretending he and Adelyn were a couple. He stretched out next to her on a small sofa that unfolded. It was bright pink with fairy princesses on it. When the dolly cried, he got up and took care of it. Kudos to Garrett!
After a while, they went back to playing balloons again. I observed closely and watched as Garrett smacked Adelyn in the face with his green balloon. Shame on him! But I couldn’t grade him too harshly because he did pass all the tests involving playing with dolls and it was just a balloon. She didn’t even bat an eyelash and, in fact, she smacked him back.
I have decided to recommend that Garrett get a little sister. His younger brother Grant, on the other hand, will probably fail the tests, but he wasn’t available for an audition Sunday due to illness. I still hold out hope since Garrett is the oldest. If any 6-year-old boy deserves a sister, it is Garrett. I have given my report to the Great Stork, who will ultimately have the final say. I guess we will all find out when the baby is born in May.
Do the people in your family find out the sex of their babies? Do you know of a little boy who tenderly plays with his little sister or a big sister who plays rough and tumble with her little brother? Please leave your answers in the comment section below.

One Proud Auntie

Happy New Year all! My humblest apologies for not posting last week, but between the holidays and the stomach flu, the odds were against me. Here is my first post of the New Year. Enjoy!

The eldest of my niece and nephews, Garrett, is six years old and enrolled in a parochial kindergarten. As part of their Christmas program, the kids did the Christmas song from Alvin and the Chipmunks. You know the one—Christmas, Christmas time is here; Time for joy and time for cheer–in those cute little high pitched voices. My nephew got to be Alvin, the lead chipmunk, and what a darling little chipmunk he is! He had 2 speaking lines and 2 solo singing lines. Living 1 ½ hours away, I was unable to attend, but shortly after the program, I got word from my brother that it was a success. A few days later, I was finally able to see the video of his performance at our family Christmas. The house was noisy and I was watching this on a phone, so I missed quite a bit of it, but I have heard him sing the Johnny Appleseed prayer for God and family when we have family gatherings. I was curious as to how he did in front of a crowd since he’s always a willing little singer for just us. It was rather difficult to hear since the recording was made with the phone I was using to view it. It was also a distance from the performers, not to mention there were 20 or so of us gathered for Christmas and the kids were running around. Still through all that, loud, proud, and very much on pitch, I heard a voice sing, “And I still want a hula hoop!” He wasn’t quiet or bashful in the least. In fact, he was all smiles each time it was his turn to speak or sing. All I could think was, Someone inherited my genes! There may be another little performer in our midst! Excitedly, I said to my brother, “He gets it from his Auntie Marsha.” My brother lightly scoffed and then replied, “I don’t know where else it would have come from.” Greg and Amanda are not performers and I still love to do solos and duets with my husband in church. I love the accolades from an audience as much now as I did when I was young. Sometimes I feel guilty for loving it the way I do when the praise is supposed to be for God, not me. I developed a love of performing at a fairly young age and once I had more opportunities to try out for choirs and plays, I did so and often obtained a role of some sort. I thought the love of singing and performing would die with me since I don’t have children of my own. I got my interest in the arts from my Grannie. I have never particularly nudged Garrett or encouraged him to sing, but I am proud nonetheless. I was so filled with joy and told him what a great job he did. Not many kids his age are brave enough to do that, much less able to do it well and on pitch. They picked the right kid for the job and I was told that several of the parents there said Garrett stole the show. I think so, too, not that I am biased or anything.

Have any of the kids in your life done something that just made you burst with pride? Please share in the comments section. It can be anything, even their first word or first step. Just share what the kids you love do to make you proud and happy to be a part of their lives.

It Works!

Grant2 This past Sunday, my family had their Christmas party, a time of food, gifts, and fun watching the kids, commenting on how much they’ve grown just since Thanksgiving. We met at my aunt and uncle’s and they have a large, open floor plan and a huge yard for the kids to run around in. I got some great footage of the kids racing from one end of the lawn to the other. After they had worn themselves out a bit, we opened presents. Adelyn and Garrett vied for packages to hand out to family members so, of course, the opening of gifts was mass chaos as the kids ran back and forth. Grant sat in his Daddy’s lap and my brother helped him open his gifts. He is 2 ½, just one month younger than Adelyn. At first, the gift he was most excited about was a set of board books in a collector’s box that was similar to a lunchbox. He said, “I’m going to take this to my work.” “You’re work?” “Yes!” We didn’t even know he held down a job, but we are assuming he meant daycare. He carried them around proudly for quite some time with the latch loosening occasionally and spilling the books onto the floor. He would carefully pick them all up and put them in backwards as kids do.
My brother decided to open the remote control police car I had gotten Grant for Christmas, just to see what he would do with it. He wanted to teach him how to use a remote control. I got out the batteries, handing them to my brother. Once he flipped the switch on the car, lights and sirens sounded. Grant was intrigued, but it wasn’t until the car began to move that hilarity ensued. My brother had the controller and raced the car down the hall. Grant shrieked, “It works!” and took off after it. He caught it, carried it back to the leather couch and with total delight on his face, watched as it moved back and forth. Then he put it down on the carpet where movement speed is impeded, but once it got off the carpet and onto the tile floor, it sped down the hall again. Sometimes he would crawl, and sometimes he would run, but every time Grant would shriek, “It works!” with total delight in that gravelly voice of his. The process of bringing it to the couch, putting it on the carpet, and then chasing it down the hall was repeated several times. Then my brother said, “Come here, Grant-Grant. I’ll show you how it works. Bring your car over.” Grant dutifully carried his car over, but as soon as Greg would hit the button to make it go, off Grant would run, chasing it. Greg even tried to steer it back between Grant’s legs, but Grant was pretty quick and would catch it, holding it up proudly.
Grant didn’t want to know how it worked. As far as he was concerned, that car was magical and would race away from him for no apparent reason other than for him to catch it. Every time my brother tried to show him how it worked, he refused to listen. He just wanted to chase it. We all laughed and laughed repeatedly as he would tear off after it. What did I learn? Christmas is a magical time of year. For some it is more difficult than others. I do acknowledge that. But there are magical things happening all around us whether you see it with charities raising unexpected funds, people recovering from tragedy, or the Christ child in Bethlehem. It is the time of year to believe in magic and allow ourselves to be mystified by the glory of it. What is your magical Christmas experience, whether from this year or years past? Please share in the comments section. Refuse to see the remote control this year and just believe in magic!

Adelyn’s Request

Adelyn is, for now at least, my favorite niece. I can say that fairly because she is my only niece unless my sister-in-law has a girl in May. Adelyn is my sister and brother-in-law’s only child and, therefore, extraordinarily special. A month ago today on Veteran’s Day, Brenda and Adelyn came to visit me and spend the day shopping and playing. I wish I could show you a picture of her, but for understandable reasons, Brenda and Brett do not wish for their daughter’s image to be made available on the internet and I respect that wish. I will tell you a little about her before I tell you the story I want you to hear. On command, Adelyn will make one of two faces—the cute face and the mad face. The cute face consists of her folding her hands under her chin, tilting her head to one side like a puppy and smiling really big while opening her brown eyes as wide as they will go. The mad or mean face is where she puckers her lips into a mean looking frown, squints her eyes, and crosses her arms across her chest, much like her mother used to do when she was mad at that age. She talks quite a bit and is quite eloquent for a 2 ½-year-old. She smiles and laughs a lot and is usually talked out of a rage fairly easily. She is quite a sweet and thoughtful girl, too, as you will soon find out.

As soon as the knock came at the door, the cats scattered. They do not like strangers. And as soon as they heard a small child’s voice, the boys dove under the bed, for they do not like small children in the least. Iris is the only one who will play with a child. I don’t know if it is out of sheer curiosity or if she really doesn’t mind children that badly. Adelyn, as far as I know, had never gotten to play with a kitty before. We showed her the “fishing pole” and unlike other children, she didn’t wave the stick end in Iris’s face. She actually waved the “boa” with the feathers on the end around, and much to her delight, after a few shy moments, Iris played with her. I had gotten out some crayons and paper and I asked her to color some pictures for me. My favorite is the one where she was trying to trace her hand and Mommy helped. Mommy helped her sing her Sunday school songs as well so I could hear what she had learned. She colored for quite a while and then played with Iris some more before we went shopping. She was fairly quiet in the stores and even fell asleep long enough for Brenda to show me what Adelyn wanted most fervently for Christmas (the wish has been fulfilled and I will be giving it to her on Sunday). Upon coming back to the apartment, she played with Iris, colored one more picture, and then left.

When she arrived home, her daddy, Brett, inquired as to what she did that day. She said she played with a kitty and had a birthday party. Apparently she had been longing for another birthday party for quite some time (her birthday isn’t until May) and I gave it to her! I have no idea what I did to make her day so special as to tell her daddy she had a party, but apparently it left an impression on her.

Ever since then, on some nights as she is saying her prayers, she will pray for me. My sister will get her started with “God bless Mommy, Daddy, and Adelyn” and she throws in “and Aunt Marsha!” Sometimes she will list off some of her day care friends, but include me at the end. It isn’t every night, but it has occurred several times. I sent her a card thanking her for her prayers and gave her a picture of herself at my house. I told her I pray for her, too, that she’ll eat more food and be healthy and strong (she’s a picky eater). When she got my card, she recounted an event from her visit here of how a kitty (Iris) tried to drink her milk. She remembers every detail.

So what did I learn from this 2 ½ -year-old girl? I learned that intercessions with God can come from anyone anywhere, even those you don’t expect. I’ve been having some problems of my own and I am convinced that God whispered in her ear and told her I needed her prayers. Nothing inspires you like having someone that young who barely even knows who God is, yet believes in him wholeheartedly, pray for you. I learned that God sends his answers in small packages like Adelyn. Her request did not fall on deaf ears. If God doesn’t hear the simple prayers of a 2 ½-year-old, then who does he hear? If Adelyn believes in God when she barely knows anything about him, then certainly I can believe. I have been raised since the cradle to believe and it was so much easier as a child. Now I get to relive that childlike belief through her and my nephews. I am inspired by Adelyn’s request that God watch over me and now I know I will get through these tribulations of mine with God’s help. I, too, must ask God to help me, for I have trouble praying for myself. But if Adelyn can remember to pray for me, I can remember to pray for me, too. Thanks be to God!