With my nephew recovering from surgery, my niece has joined our little circus for a few weeks of summer fun. While her crazed scooter-driving (Hide yo’ mailbox. Hide yo’ cats.) and Hello-Kitty covered personality might not be conducive to a zen lifestyle, her wild demeanor seems to only add a little oomph to the crazy train we’re already running. Nev is a champion exerciser, lunging and curling two Nerf footballs in place of weights as I log in my daily workout. She is an excellent magician, distracting my son with slight of hand tricks mesmerizing enough that he doesn’t know to throw a fit as his toys, one by one, disappear. Her appreciation for the finer things seems to class this rough-neck joint up a bit. I can’t help but imagine the neighbor’s dazzled stares at the glossy Hello Kitty Vespa parked and shined out front. Yes, Mrs. Cat Lady, we are the proud owners of that sophisticated nail polish swirled pink across your driveway. It was only two hours into her latest vacation that sweet, little Nev caused my plans for carefree fun in the sun to crumple. The proof is in the dancing.
Being the responsible aunt that I am, I immediately changed the semester’s curriculum from Sprinklers to Sonnets and Happy Playing to Hymn Recitation. In all her juice-drunk grooves, I felt a serious need for some staunch conservatism in this place. Let’s get holy, Tiny Dancer.
I set out to make a list of meaningful lessons to bestow upon my niece during her stay. I would skip the part where I don’t attend church regularly which may or may not have led to my being an unwed mother in the Bible Belt. I might skim over the issues of underage drinking, of course, not as they pertained to me and college and godforsaken pink barf that tasted of Hunch Punch and failure. And we weren’t going to f*ckign touch on my shit-brained tendency to cuss. We would keep it simple, educational, and above all else hypocritical.
GETTIN’ RIGHT WITH THE LORD 101
1. Ask a neighbor to borrow a Bible. Amid judgmental stares, claim that yours is being cleaned.
2. Make Nev read it. When she tells you she cannot read, improvise. You don’t know what’s in there either. Let the girl assume the entire Book revolves around dirty dancing and its leading to death and damnation and brimstone and probably fire, too.
3. Curtsy class. No. This is not the same as droppin’ it low to the flo’.
4. Recite the written word of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” because a pint-sized rendition of the song would be hilarious. Oh, and it warns children of the sad, dance-beat, sad life of American thugs.
5. Tell Nev to cook dinner. This will teach her skills like stirring, and responsibility, and giving Aunt T a break after a long day spreading The Learn.
After a day of plainness that would make the Puritans blush (in silent privacy, of course), I turned on the television for a little mindless downtime. The intuitive Nev began humming, then chanting, then screaming the slightly tacky lyrics of VH1′s newest featured artist. When one faces defeat there is only one thing to do. I reached for the freezer pops. In the end it seems she twirks because there are gobs of glittery starlets twirking. It has less to do with church pews than turning the TV off and commencing to the good old-fashioned play time. Tree climbing for Treacherous Sin Squashing. That’s a change of plans I can deal with.
What are your summer plans? How do you keep kids entertained? Does anyone own a Bible I could borrow?