|"Auntie, I want to colour Jesus!"
When my brother got married, he gave me a new sister, and when they had children, they gave me a new nephew and then B.A. and me a niece, and their parents grandchildren, and their nephew cousins. Meanwhile, they were given a host of uncles and aunts at birth, thanks to their four grandparents.
It would be hard to say when my married brother's family started, so I'll posit Adam and Eve.
At any rate, my familial roles--adult daughter/sister/aunt/wife --are some of the easiest, made even easier because I live so far from everyone in the family except B.A. I very much enjoy my role as Holiday Daughter-Hostess, and I also enjoy visiting my nephews and niece and never having to shout at them or discipline them in any way. When things get out of control, I just say, "Oh, [nephew], you are making me very nervous. I think I forgot to take my pill. Did I take my pill?" Then I run away.
Oops. I lie. I did whine a bit on Sunday when I was writing a column and Popcorn and Peanut were having a noisy battle beside me. However when my niece barged into her aunt-occupied room while I was on the phone with a colleague, it was another story.
Me: [Snarling] "And I think that's just outrageous and if he thinks he can get away with ---- [Sweetly] Oh, hello, Popcorn sweetie, Auntie's working so could you go out and shut the door ? Thanks. [Snarling] If he thinks he can get away with this, he can think again!
Colleague: "Well, I know! And I can't STAND that kind of--Honey, will you give that to your mother? Take it to your mother...."
As Colleague and I shouted our agreements at each other, Popcorn drew portraits of green men and slid them under the door.
My auntie duties were very light and most enjoyable. They were as follows:
1. bringing presents
2. paying attention
3. drawing pictures
4. helping colour the pictures
5. building a castle
6. building a prison
7. random acts of tidying and toy-finding
8. counselling a nephew having a meltdown ("She hates me!" "No, she doesn't. She LOVES you." "She won't pay attention to me!" "She'll play with you tomorrow." "She won't!")
9. becoming personally involved in a battle between a woolly rabbit and whatever that was
10. occasional niece-dressing
11. preventing unwarranted karate attacks
12. apologizing for saying "Crap" over the phone after seeing niece had snuck in to listen
Meanwhile my brother and his wife were busy from dawn till well after dusk. So I must admit that aunting is easy.