In case you’ve ever wondered why I’m a tad socially awkward, it has everything to do with the fact that my parents never put me in kindergarten. I went straight from running around the farm with my mom and siblings to first grade at Dayton Grade School. So my first brush with kindergarten graduation was last night, when my niece MayTay graduated. It was amazing and it was long. Granted, if you like kids and think they are even the smallest bit cute, you’d enjoy this. But after the first half hour, I leaned over to my dad and said, “This graduation’s getting a little long.” I mean, come on. It’s kindergarten. They learned some songs, how to share the red color crayon, the English alphabet, and how to count to ten in Spanish. My niece can read first grade level books but that has more to do with the intense after school studies my father did with her than what she learned at school.
The best part of the graduation was actually what happened an hour before it started. I got to help MayTay get ready for graduation by painting her nails, putting on lip gloss and putting her hair up. She looked beautiful and helping her get ready was a whole lot of fun.
My Ukrainian host mother told me that I needed to have kids when she heard me talk about MayTay a few months ago. I’m not sure that she’s right. Kids are a lot of work. They require constant effort, love, and attention. I really enjoy being the cool, fun aunt. Take yesterday for example. It was MayTay and Pops’ (my dad) movie day. MayTay wanted to watch The Grinch. This made me lay down to take a nap. But when the movie ended, a little, stringy six-year-old started climbing on me, trying to get comfortable with me as I took my map. That wasn’t working so I decided a nap was no longer an option. I got an idea.
“Do you ever watch a second movie?” I asked MayTay. (Pops was snoring in the recliner.)
“No, we don’t. Why?” she knew what the idea was.
“Well, I think we might be able to watch a second movie while Gramdad is sleeping.” Her eyes popped out of her head when I said this. Tia Rece was suggesting breaking the rules.
When I went to pick out a kids’ movie to put in, she kept saying, “Tia Rece, maybe we shouldn’t,” and “We don’t want to get in trouble.” She was really nervous about getting in trouble. It didn’t stop me. I wanted to watch Anastasia and that was it. Pops didn’t wake up until the movie was over and we were singing along with the credits. I was the one who told him we’d watched a second movie. He just shook his head. He already knew I was that kind of aunt.
At graduation, I found out that MayTay told her parents that we’d watched two movies. They know I do that sort of thing. Sometimes they don’t like it but other times, they’re glad their daughter has a buddy. Granted, the buddy might get her to break a few rules on occasion, but isn’t that what cool aunts are for? I think so. And hey, at least MayTay is an honest one. Some might call it tattling, but her parents call it honesty.
The funny thing is that I was a lot like MayTay when I was little. Benji and Shelli hated playing with me because I had a tendency to tell Ma Bunn everything that happened when the three of us were hanging out. This sort of sharing and honesty makes it tough to hang out with the cool kids, but that’s ok. As far as MayTay is concerned, she can tattle on me repeatedly and I’ll never ditch her.
Besides, as I was sitting here writing this post, she started listening to Justin Bieber with me and she got me to help her do the math to figure out their respective ages and how old he would be when she’s 18. He’d be thirty. And according to her, they could still get married. If you don’t learn anything else in kindergarten, you at least learn that you should be 18 before you get married. Right?