Many years ago Dan’s rank in the family was pushed down a notch.
We were all settling in to the Outer Banks beach house we rented for a week each summer; me, Dan, CJ, Lisa and the three kids. The kids were pretty young, maybe 4, 6 and 8 or something, so typically the house was pretty noisy. But suddenly the house went way too quiet. CJ yelled for the kids and heard some giggling coming from downstairs.
I certainly didn’t get up and do anything; I mean he’s the one who wanted to have kids or whatever, so I only did fun stuff. Anyway, he went storming downstairs and the next thing I hear is his very dad-like yell; “Aubrey!” “Craig!” “Sean!” and then “DAN!?!” I heard three children’s voices and one alleged adult muttering about how they weren’t doing anything wrong they were just goofing off and stuff.
CJ addressed each of the children, and was just sputtering by the time he got to Dan. “And you? You’re supposed to be an Uncle? You’re more like a Cousin!” and with that he knocked Dan down an entire rank. What the hell happened down there? That has remained a closely held secret, but Dan’s demotion stood.
The kids thought it was hilarious that Dan had two sides to his personality. He was Uncle Dan on those rare occasions when he acted like an adult, but when he was just goofing like a kid he was Cousin Dan. They got him coffee mugs and magnets that said “World’s Best Cousin” and routinely asked if Cousin Dan could babysit (specifying that Uncle Dan was not permitted).
I proudly maintain my full Aunt status, but I’ll admit it’s easy to get carried away. One Hanukkah my mom got Aubrey a beautiful doll house and a bunch of furniture. She couldn’t wait to play with it and neither could I! So there we were with an empty house and a pile of furniture. Aubrey took one of the sofas and put it in an upstairs room. I smiled nervously and said “Sweetie pie, that’s silly! The sofa goes in the living room.” But it got worse as Aubrey continued to do whatever she wanted instead of following proper rules like the rest of us were taught.
I was getting really wigged out because now she had a high chair in the playroom and the baby sitting on just a regular old chair on the kitchen furniture that was unbelievably crammed into the living room. As an Aunt, I felt like it was my responsibility to immediately quash Aubrey’s imagination and teach her how to properly furnish a doll house.
You ever feel like you’re watching yourself from afar? That’s how I felt when I started explaining to Aubrey that we would have to take all the furniture back out of the doll house so we could get it set up properly. That way, I told her, she would be able to play dolls! Flash smile, go in for a hug and kiss.
“I like it like this.” I remained calm. “I know honey but it’s not right. Don’t you want to put the high chair in the kitchen so the baby can eat in there?” She looked at me quizzically and said no she didn’t.
Aubrey was fine but I felt like I was going to have a meltdown because she wasn’t playing right! Thankfully, a wave of reality swept over me and I realized I was arguing with a 5 year old about her doll house. Ridiculous! I apologized and walked away, feeling foolish.
I headed straight for the other room, where Craig and Sean were building a Lego town. Those crazy boys didn’t even know their building was in the completely wrong place!