My nieces are good "practice," and exposure to the energy children demand. A recent trip to the beach with my family sparked a debate in my mind about whether I really ever wanted to have kids.
Upon my arrival, I was crammed in the back of a tiny Honda Civic between my nieces' baby seats, unable to move until we got to the beach house.
My mom mentioned that my younger niece had been sick. Right on cue, my nieces started licking their fingers and wiping them on my arm. I longed for a shower.
Next, my older niece announced she had to go "potty." Still ensconced between the child seats, I asked my mom: "What's that mean?"
My mom calmly told her to hold it. I implored my niece: "Hold it, hold it!"
She informed me, "Mommy said it's not good to hold it." I was confused. My older sister and I have had many a discussion about how we are "champion holders." What BS has she fed this kid?
On vacation, you don't expect to hear about how you have to improve, especially from a two-year-old. But, my niece had other ideas. Both days in the car she told me: "Your ears are dirty." The females in my family have an instinctive ability to point out any weakness within the males.
I spent the rest of the ride governing a complex barter system between the two girls featuring two plastic lions and a stuffed elephant. I acted as negotiator managing who held what animal, while both were on the verge of an unhappy outburst. It was truly nerve-racking.
Thankfully, we got to the house, all emergency situations averted. The potty niece got to the bathroom (ultimately, I don't think she even had to go).
Now, it was time for my laziness to begin. My plan: Stretch out on the couch and watch the Orioles game. But instead I was told to watch Aladdin with the girls.
On top of this, the girls insisted on cramming next to me on the couch, propping me up. So, I gave up and allowed them to dictate my relaxation positions. No stretching out on the couch on this weekend.
Next, I was told to put the girls to bed. My four-year-old niece instructed me to read her two books. After my first three attempts, she said: "Mommy sits next to me, so I can see the pictures." I guess standing at the end of the bed as if I was giving a business presentation was not proper.
After reading two books, I attempted to return to the glorious couch downstairs, but my niece announced: "I thought you said you'd read four books." Defeated (even though I never said that), I sat back on the bed and read another two books.
When I got downstairs, my parents made fun of me for taking so long: "I guess she knows she has someone who will do what she says." I can't say no.
As I packed to leave, my four-year-old niece, who followed me around throughout the weekend as if I was a celebrity, surveyed the scene like a prison warden watching prisoners do work. She noted: "Uncle Rich, your shoes have holes in them."
She paused, looked at me disapprovingly, and said: "Well, you should buy new shoes." And that was the end of the discussion. By this time I had almost grown to admire how blessed my nieces were by the female-linked "Santos Criticism Gene."
In the end, a weekend that normally would have been spent reading Wikipedia, keeping up with Ravens and Orioles news, looking for hot girls who don't want to date me, and commandeering the remote was gone the 24 hours I was there felt like 24 minutes.
I felt like the new guy at work during the first part of the trip. Your first week, you have no idea what to do, where anything is. You ask so many dumb questions: Where do you keep the pens? How do you use the copier? You have no confidence.
But I must admit that I began to find a little rhythm. I learned to keep an eye on the girls while doing other tasks, and I began to communicate on their level. I wouldn't say I was a "pro," but I certainly felt a bit more comfortable by the time I left.