The Auntie Diaries: A Day at the Park

It’s no secret that I’m not cut from Mom fabric.  Motherhood isn’t for me and nothing proves that like when my big brother’s kids are in town.  I take each of the five of them on a special date.  My first date went like this:

12:00 Pick up 5-year-old Kyleigh to go to Kids Kingdom.

12:14 Realize that when it is 112 degrees swings, slide, and tire swing sear through shorts when sat upon.  Climb around on jungle gym instead.

12:30 Follow Kyleigh over to the sprinkler area where she plays for a few minutes.

12:37 Sit with Kyleigh in the shade waiting for the water volcano to erupt.  Want to poke my eyes out after telling her over and over that the water volcano won’t erupt until 1:00.  It’s “Are we there yet?” times a thousand.

12:49 Tell weird babysitter guy with a toddler that perhaps he shouldn’t set his cigarettes and lighter in the woodchips on the playground because, ya know, there are kids here and stuff.

12:51 Move away from weird babysitter guy who apparently took my scolding as an invitation for conversation.

1:00 Finally the volcano erupts.  Kyleigh is afraid to get near it.

1:02 Volcano stops and we sit in the shade waiting for the next eruption at 1:15.

1:15 This time Kyleigh runs for it, understanding that if she doesn’t get to it ASAP, she’ll miss out and will possibly shrivel up into a raisin if she doesn’t get wet.

1:22 Introduce Kyleigh to a little girl from school.  They splash around like old friends.

1:30 Volcano erupts again and Kyleigh has wisely staked out the spot that gets the most water.  She guards her area fiercely and gets completely drenched.

1:40 Weird babysitter guy moves near my shady spot, bringing with him 2 other pock-marked, skinny legged meth users.  One sits behind me, one to the side, and the other in front of me so that when they want to talk to each other they have to yell.  After being caught in the middle of yelling conversations about a festering rash, a stolen truck, and the (insert colorful word) government, I tell Kyleigh that after the next volcano eruption, we’re going to get frozen yogurt.

1:47 Practically injure Kyleigh as I rub her dry with a towel, simultaneously pulling on her shorts and shirt.

1:48 Walk so briskly to the car that Kyleigh runs after me calling “Wait for me!  Wait for me!”

1:48 Think briefly about the Pirates of the Caribbean Code: If anyone falls behind, they’re left behind.

1:49 Grab Kyleigh and hustle her to the car.

1:50 Peel out of the playground parking lot.

2:00 Sit happily in the clean, air-conditioned yogurt shop.  Smile as Kyleigh tops her yogurt with gummy worms, gummy bears, chocolate chips, cherries, sprinkles, more sprinkles, and whatever else she pleases.

2:01 Smile even bigger at the mom who explains to her kid that he can’t do the same thing because they only put healthy things in their bodies.

2:22 Kyleigh puts her sweaty, ice cream covered face up to mine and says “Thank you, Aunt Alicia.”  She tops it off with a kiss, leaving sprinkles on my lip.

Riding Bikes with My Brother

Yesterday morning my alarm went off at 5am.  Yes, it’s still summer.  Yes, I set it for 5am on purpose.  Yes, I did the same thing again this morning.  On Saturday That Laura, my little brother Pete, and I headed out for a 17 mile jaunt along the river.  This morning, Pete and I did the same route again.  My brother has recently started cycling the two miles to work and back and when he expressed an interest in doing longer distances, I jumped on it.

I have a simple rule: If you like bikes, I like you.  If you ride a bicycle, or even its ugly cousin the unicycle, you pretty much have to be Satan for me not to like you.  I don’t know much about bike parts and that kind of geekery, but I can talk to you about rides until your face falls off.

I already like my little brother, so I knew taking him on a bike ride would be great.  We rode along the Sacramento River when the air was still cool enough to send goosebumps skipping up my arms.  I know this trail like the back of my hand.  I’ve ridden it in the dark, knowing exactly where I was based on the rise and fall of the pavement beneath my tires and the black shadows of the trees around me.

Since this trail is an old friend, I chattered about bumps in the road, blind corners, the mint that grows here, the blackberries that grow there, the gravel that always gathers around this corner, the fence that marks the end of the hardest part of the hill and all the little details that I have learned about this trail over the last few years.

When Pete was 3 and I was 8, he used to copy what I said.  Not in that irritating way when someone instantly repeats you over and over.  Although he did that, too.  The copying I’m talking about was when I’d hear phrases I used come out of his little mouth within the context of normal conversation.

As we rode in the quiet of the morning, I heard Pete say some of the same things I’ve said on The Rocket.  It’s so relaxing.  It’s better with company. Of course, there were familiar utterances of another vein, too.  My butt hurts.  My legs are sore.  I wanted to get off and walk the hill, but I didn’t let it beat me.

In a lot of ways, riding my bike with Pete feels like we’re kids again.  Only better. When we were kids, we were just brother and sister.  Now we’re friends and I can’t wait to show him another one of my favorite rides next weekend.