The Man happens to have a sister who happens to have a child, which means I am soon-to-be an Aunt! As an only child, I felt I was doomed to never bear the title “Aunt,” so this is very exciting. I am excited about marriage, too – but really… I’M GOING TO BE AN AUNT! (x2 actually… The Sister is expecting another)
We live quite a distance from The Sister and her family, so we decided to meet each other half way in the exotic and riveting location of Buffalo, NY. The idea was to get together, experience fun things, talk about life things, do the hugging things, and then leave. That’s exactly what we did — with a few entertaining twists.
Just to set the scene…
My future niece is just over a year and a half old, so she has hit the pinnacle of natural cuteness.
Note on Child Development:
Walking still takes about 80% of her concentration, and she is beginning to talk (See Stage: “Parrot”) She knows brilliant things like counting! She knows her animal names!
She even knows how to fetch (See Stage: “Like a Well-Trained Dog”), and she gets a kick out of it! This is especially helpful now so that you can plop yourself in one location during the ritual of playing with her toys.
She’s just darned cute, and she’s beginning to realize it.
At arrival, The Man and I exhibited an age-old custom of “PLEASE LIKE US BETTER THAN EVERYONE ELSE!” We showered The Niece with kisses and hugs and a barrage of “What’s this?” – a new favorite game. We also presented her with a gift. Seeing as she is brilliant, she already has a love for books. Big books. Small books. Books with pages. Books with Pictures. It doesn’t matter. A book is a book to The Niece. So, with our goal of eternal love and appreciation as the most awesome Aunt and Uncle ever, we gave her a book with the capability of being read and played with while in the bath. Spectacular, I know!
The book has no pages but a few pictures and a mirror. It is about a hippo that is also taking a bath complete with happy bubbles and smiles. It is cute. It is perfect. She loved it. In fact, she loved it so much we began to read it together immediately. For 10 whole min. A book with no pages. It was in this moment filled with glee and awe at how awesome of an Aunt I am that she turned to me with all her love and said…
At first I thought it was a cute rendition of the game we were just playing with the new toy, but after several repeats with points and giggles I realized the worst… I was the best Aunt in the world, but my name was now “Hippo.”
How on earth would I explain this to fellow Aunts? It’s both a universal insult but a term of endearment? No. This could not be. I demanded an instant distraction, as I was positive her memory would still be something comparable to that of a gold fish and that forgetting the incident would certainly help this naming snafu. So we all decided to go to the Buffalo Zoo, as it would both entertain The Niece and the adults.
The Buffalo Zoo is wonderful and well-designed, so we were able to see a ton of animals in a decent amount of time. There were the turtles, and the rhino, and the zebra. The bears were butt heads and had decided to go inside, as had the elephants, but we were not phased! We were determined to play as much of “What sound does this animal make?” and “Do you see the animal?” as possible. The Niece did so well! She did tell us what she saw when we asked, but when we didn’t ask we found out what she really was interested in…
Yes, the zoo had a few water features in the exhibits, as well as rock displays. These were the things The Niece found super entertaining. The lounging gorilla? Nah. The sleeping lion? Nope. The bubbles, however, were hilarious. Which was cool. We all found that fact entertaining, as well, and I thought we had successfully moved on from the previous incident involving my future nomenclature. She then looked back at me to present the magnificent bubbles, and said…
I couldn’t believe it. I had changed the scenery, the animals, and the time. Yet I was still Hippo no matter how hard I tried.
For the rest of the evening, we played a rambunctious game that involved blowing little pieces of paper all of the room, as well as watching The Brother-in-Law flop on the bed like a crazed trout in pursuit of uncontrollable fits of laughter and happiness. We ate dinner and then watched as The Niece tired herself out for sleep to finally let the adults play games and talk about things involving complex vocabulary, as well as curse words.
The next morning we practiced and practiced “Aunt Taylor.” She was able to get my name fairly down. I was excited! We left for breakfast with a local friend, and I was feeling just fine about my aunt-situation. We got back in the car, however, and The Niece turns to me – takes my finger – and excitedly exclaims…
Hopefully with some time away and a bit of getting older, this wears off, but for now… just call me “Hippo.”