My sister came to visit a few days ago. Aunt Elaine. Jacob LOVES to play with Aunt Elaine. Loves, loves, LOVES it. Of course Emma does too in her own I-will-cling-to-Mommy-while-you’re-here-but-allow-you-to-entertain-me sort of way. Incidentally, after a day of this (clinging and expecting Aunt Elaine to be her personal court jester) Emma whined piteously for Aunt Elaine at bedtime. “Annn Elaaaaaaaine! Annn Elaaaaaaaine” She would NOT get in her crib until she had said a proper goodnight to Aunt Elaine. A proper good night turned out to be a ten minute ritual involving several rounds of hugs. Waving goodbye. And blowing kisses. It reminded me of that scene in “The Sound of Music” when that Austrian woman would not get off the stage at the music festival.
But back to Jacob. Aunt Elaine was not just here to visit. She was here to celebrate Jacob’s birthday. Because when you’re five, having just one celebration with cake and balloons and presents is SIMPLY NOT SUFFICIENT. Bring in the family. Let’s do it again. Enter Aunt Elaine (and my parents).
Jacob: Aunt Elaine, tomorrow is my birthday.
Aunt Elaine: Really?
Jacob: YES. Didn’t you know it’s my birthday??
Aunt Elaine: No. Are you sure?
This is the same woman who once told Jacob at Thanksgiving that she was going to eat ALL THE FOOD ON THE TABLE. Most toddlers would have just giggled. Or given her a look. Jacob was addicted to food. He burst into tears. Oh, Aunt Elaine.
Anyway, five minutes after the first birthday conversation, there was this . . .
Jacob: Aunt Elaine.
Jacob: It’s my birthday tomorrow.
Jacob: YES. Did you bring me something for my birthday?
Aunt Elaine: Hmmm. I might have.
Jacob (breathlessly): WHAT IS IT? WHAT IS IT? WHAT IS IT?
Aunt Elaine: I can’t tell you.
Jacob: Because you don’t know?
Dan: BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE CAN KEEP A SECRET.
A bit of background. Dan was slightly peeved at Jacob because of this conversation (which took place earlier that morning) . . .
Jacob: Mommy, we’re having pizza for lunch!
Me: Really? Did Daddy tell you that?
Jacob: YES! He told me we were having pizza right after he told me about your surprise.
But back to Jacob-in-crisis. Of course, no five year old can survive knowing that there is a present. Somewhere in the world. For him. But not knowing what it is.
Jacob: JUST. TELL. ME.
Aunt Elaine: Okay. I got you a rock.
Jacob: A ROCK??
Aunt Elaine: Yes.
Jacob: A ROCK IS. NOT. A. PRESENT.
Aunt Elaine: Sure it is.
Cue ten minutes of “debate” on this topic. Until Jacob finally decided it wasn’t worth arguing about. Or, more likely, saw something shiny and got distracted. But an hour later he came back to it. With a more sophisticated approach.
Jacob: Aunt Elaine.
Aunt Elaine: Yes?
Jacob: You know, a rock isn’t really fun to play with.
More debate. Off and on. For the next 24 hours. Until Jacob finally opened his presents. And saw that Aunt Elaine actually got him some cool art supplies. And, of course, a rock.
Jacob used it to make this.
He named it Aunt Elaine.