Farewell, Darndest Things

Posted: January 6, 2014 in McTrip posts
Tags: , , , , ,

IMG_2507“Uncle J, how can you not know where everything is in our kitchen?” my adorable little niece said as I asked, for about the twentieth time, where something was in my sister’s cabinets.

It’s custom in our family that I make a complicated/challenging/gluten-infused dessert on Christmas Eve, often requiring hours of work. My family insists I do this every year, I suspect, in order to keep me out of the living room where I’m bound to offend somebody. Or where I might roll over the dog’s tail in the rocking chair.

For me, I participate in the annual tradition as a test to confirm I can still follow directions.

I’ve made some pretty impressive desserts in my sister’s kitchen, if I do say so. But I’m sorry, little Miss Rememberpants, I don’t recall where your mother stores the food processor. Or the cream of tartar. Or the spring-form pans. Or the brandy. Wait, that’s a lie. I know where she keeps the brandy.

“You might think I can remember where all that stuff is,” I told my 11-year-old niece, “but there’s a lot of time between my visits here. I have other things to remember.”

“But you have a big head,” she said, “how can you not remember it all?”

If an adult told me my head was big I’d be in therapy for a month. But it came from the sweetest little human being on earth. So it was just precious. And so hilarious I nearly rolled on the floor laughing (ROFLMAO I believe is how the kids would abreviate it).

The youngest of my six nieces and nephews, little Missy is still granted immunity for such otherwise malicious observations. At 11, her days of saying the “darndest things” are numbered. When evolution steals her childhood, all the “kids” in my life will be gone. They’ll all be little adults. And adults can be so annoying.

Her brother is now a young teenage yet still retains his boyish charm, which is bound to evaporate any day now. After all, he’s just entered puberty. His childhood, for all intents and purposes, is over.

He was a real sport this Christmas, playing along in the charade of leaving cookies and eggnog for Santa, for the benefit of his little sister. I’m pretty sure it’s the last time I’ll witness that ritual played out.

Never having had kids of my own, I can only assume that, for parents, the end of the whole Santa fairytale must be the first sign that your children aren’t children anymore.

Losing your kid to the teen years and soon after to adulthood must be bittersweet for parents. From an uncle’s perspective I can tell you it is. I suppose children are so different from other humans because, god willing, they haven’t been stung by the cruelty the world yet. So they just exude innocence. I realize I’m not making a profound observation here. But I had to experience it first-hand to get it.

So when I left my sister’s this holiday season and said goodbye to the kids, it felt like the end of an era. Other than the screaming, the crying and the innocuous comments about the size of my noggin, it’s been a dozen-plus years of pure unadulterated entertainment for me.

What a thing to watch: Six tiny humans all developing personalities, and interests, and opinions and souls. I almost feel luckier than the three sets of their parents, because I got to watch all six of them become people.

And through it all, I never once had to change a diaper.

(To be continued…)

  1. Trish says:

    First time I realized they might not be children any more is when they had “Health” in 5th grade…body parts, reproduction, puberty, diseases. And yes, I answered every question. Thanks for capturing your vantage point, loved it!

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