If an authority figure is speaking in the forest, and there is no tween around to ignore it . . .

 . . . was that authority figure really speaking?

One thing I learned from spending the last week with my 11-year-old nephew: my kid is normal. All kids are crappy listeners. My husband and I also got a brief taste of what it's like to say, "Why aren't your teeth brushed???" to two kids instead of just one.

My nephew is slightly more likely to comply than my daughter. When I told both of them, "Put down your iPads and get your pajamas on," he actually put his iPad down. What this tells me is that my sister has put the fear of death into him if he doesn't put his iPad down, and I need to know exactly how she has accomplished this. My kid ignores me until I'm foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog.

Another (apparently) common trait with kids: inability to get out of the car when you've arrived at your destination. My daughter does this to me almost daily. For example, we go to church every Sunday (unless we're out of town or something). The church service starts at the same time every Sunday. We leave our house at the same time and take the same route to get there. Every week. So how is it that when we arrive at church, she won't get out of the bleeping car? She acts like she has no earthly idea where we are or why we are there. It's like she's been beamed there without her knowledge or consent, a la Star Trek. So, I spend a lot of time standing in parking lots behind my own car while I wait for her to get her act together and, for the love of God, EXIT THE VEHICLE.

The other day, I dropped the cousins off at the theater camp they attended last week. I ended up walking into the building and signing them in without the two knuckleheads even being with me. They were still rummaging around in the back seat and arguing over who had received better stuff in the lunches I had packed for them. When we took my nephew to the airport today, P and I stood in the parking garage (behind the car) while the tweens took their sweet time. We assumed that they were getting their stuff together, since each one had a backpack containing an iPad and other odds and ends. They looked dazed and confused when they finally emerged from the back seat. I thought maybe the planes rumbling overhead would have provided some clues about our destination, but what do I know?

We checked my nephew in at the Southwest ticket counter and then headed towards security. Just then he exclaimed, "Wait! I don't have my iPad!" He stopped and started frantically searching his backpack. What the what? His uncle ran back out to the car to find it.  I know my husband was dying to ask, "Then what were you doing all that time?" but thought better of it.

The visit was a success, though, I think. I adore my nephew. He really is a sweetheart. On Friday night, I left work early so I could take the kids somewhere fun. However, a massive storm rolled in so my plans to go to the park had to be tossed out. Instead, I took them to an indoor waterpark. I swam, too. At one point I bought them some snacks from the concession stand. After my nephew thanked me for the snacks, the cashier guy said, "That's the first time all day I've heard a kid thank a parent." We took the kids to the state fair yesterday and at times my nephew held my hand as we made our way through the thick crowds. It was about 900 degrees yesterday and any kind of physical contact seemed like a bad idea, but I was so touched that he wanted to hold my hand that I couldn't bear not to hold his.

As for the cousins, they got along famously, just like they always have. We stayed at a hotel after the fair last night. The room had two queen beds so we put the kids in one and we took the other one. They're still young and innocent, so it didn't seem inappropriate or anything like that. As you may recall from previous blog entries, my daughter is a kicker. As the kids sat in bed last night playing with their iPads, I walked over, lifted my leg, and stuck my heel in my nephew's spine. "Are you good with this? Because this is what you have to look forward to all night." He looked at me like I must be kidding. Ha ha! Just as we all were falling asleep last night, we noticed that our kid was on her cousin's side of the bed. He was clinging to the edge of the mattress for dear life. Then we heard her mumble, "Move over!"

We hope he'll come back next summer for more adventures. He said his favorite part of the visit was eating deep-fried Oreos at the state fair. The look on his face was priceless - if he could have dove head first into the bag, he would have. He has a peanut allergy and had a milk allergy for a long time, too. I think for most of his life he couldn't indulge in a lot of stuff. I remember when he was little and he was invited to a birthday party. The other kids had cake and he had some Smarties or something like that. Life is a little easier now. I was nervous about the peanut allergy but I managed to keep him alive for a whole week before returning him to his parents. Yay me! We were having so much fun during his visit that we acted like we were on vacation, too. I told him that if his mother asks him what he ate during the trip, he is supposed to say, "I don't remember." If she asks him what he drank, he is supposed to say, "Carrot juice."

I have four other nephews who haven't visited yet so, if you're reading this and you're one of my sisters, please disregard the comments about deep-fried Oreos. That's not even a thing. I made it up.

Arrival - cousins reunited

"Move over!"

The carrot juice looks very similar to a blue raspberry ICEE.

Good times at the fair.

"Hey, let's spend all my mom's money on this one game!"

Green-eyed cuties.

One for the family album.

Powdered sugar. Deep-fried Oreos. It's a whole new world.

The actors taking a bow at theater camp.

Roller coaster action at a local amusement park.

He also joined a lawless biker gang while he was here.


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