Brian and Amy have been in California for two days, sleeping in, eating out and watching Denver and his big band tape an episode of The Next Great American Band.
While away, The Cousins (the four of them) have come to our house after school, watched movies, wrestled, done their homework and then headed one street over to their house to sleep. And I’ve gone with them. It’s given me a chance to get to know my nieces and nephews a little better. Here’s what I’ve learned.
Olivia (age 10): Doesn’t trust me to wake her up, to feed her dog, to feed her siblings, to lock the doors before I go to bed, to get her to the bus stop on time or not crash the car when she’s in it. I’ve done nothing to deserve such untrust but I’m suspect anyway on account of my general artsyness. She also does her homework the day it’s assigned and not the night before it’s due and aces it. She makes up reasons to have parties so she can plan them but her dream isn’t to be the next Martha Stewart. She wants to be the president of Compassion International. While most kids her age want to meet Hannah Montana she wants to meet Wess Stafford. She prays for poor and sick people by name every night – a long list. And probably prays for Uncle Shaun when he’s not around, that he’ll be half as together as she is.
Phillip (Age 8): Phillip hates the morning and everyone in the world when it’s morning. And he talks faster than any Southerner should so I’m not sure I heard him right but his favorite Star Wars character is Obi Wan or his day to make war is July one. I’m not sure. We’ll have to wait and see. If it’s the latter we’re safe until noon. There will be no slaying of anyone until he’s fully awake and has his hair styled perfectly. Oh, and he doesn’t have a girlfriend but he has friends who are girls who he doesn’t ever want to kiss ever. But he’s oozing charisma and writes songs and he cares tremendously about his hair as I’ve already mentioned, so it’s only a matter of time.
Natalie (Age 6): Natalie runs in energy save mode at all times. She comes out of energy save mode only to eat and jump rope. And she’s an amazing walking paradox. For instance, she sleeps in a bed covered in clothes and books and toys. She doesn’t like to clean. But watch her write something sometime and you’ll notice that everything on the page must be perfect. The dot on that “i” didn’t get perfectly round the first time you know? It was erased and rewritten at least a dozen. But now, it’s the best dot you’ve ever seen. Oh, and she knows she can get anything from Uncle Shaun if she lowers her head slightly and looks up at him with her enormous anime light blue eyes. “I guess you can watch one more. I guess you can eat one more.” Sucker.
Nathaniel (age 4): Nathaniel scares me. Serioiusly. He’s ninja silent. Yesterday he and my kids and I played board games for about two hours during which he said exactly two words: My turn. And he moves like a sloth if he’s being asked to go somewhere, like out of the van, or into the van, or out of the way of the van. But give him a ball and he’ll fracture your skull with his pitching arm. Or leave a marker or a pair of scissors unattended, leave the room for five seconds, come back and everything will be newly decorated for you. Fast when he needs to be. Add to this skill set his ability to hide for hours without moving, making a sound or, of course, being found. Serioiusly. Do not play hide and seek with him. You’ll end up issuing an Amber alert. We joke that he’ll either be a Navy Seal or work for International Justice Mission rescuing kids from bad guys. They’ll tuck him inside a giant stuffed animal, mail him to a brothel in the Philippines and he’ll hide there for days, months even, until the time is right. Then he’ll slash his way out with toe nail clippers, scoop up the slaves and smuggle them out quickly…as long as no one in charge of the mission tells him to get into a van.
Their mom and dad get back this afternoon. I miss my own bed but it’s been good to play with The Cousins more this week than usual. it’s funny how easy it is to picture what they’ll be like when they’re grown. I wonder if our predictions are right, or even close. Are you anything today like the eight year-old you? Could anyone have guessed who you’d be?