The other day my sister, Renee, was over. She ate dinner with us. Let it suffice to say that my sister is a personality. She is an experience. You have to meet her to fully appreciate what that means. She is different. At times we don’t claim her. At times we over-explain what must have happened when she born.
At the table she was playing with Bryce, fooling with his feet. I asked her to stop. Of course, she lied and said she wasn’t doing anything. I mentioned watching her arm move so that imagining her hand under the table wasn’t an issue. She persisted.
It helps to tell you that I’m religious about my son’s bedtime. He was already late for it. We had come in later than normal. I was cooking and didn’t finish as quickly as usual. So my wife was there, quiet and looking at me get upset. I told the boy to eat.
I went to do something after saying that, and I heard my sister basically undoing what I told the boy. When I returned to the table, I told Renee not to teach my son to disobey me. She, again, said what she wasn’t doing, what she wasn’t saying. I explained that since we didn’t have walls that I could, well, hear what she told Bryce.
And I started thinking about how difficult it is telling people, like family, what they were and weren’t going to do. They believe that social history gives them permission to be creative when it comes to your child. Me and Dawn have had these hills develop with family before. I told Renee that I wasn’t going to let her teach my son to disobey me and certainly not in my face. She laughed it off unfortunately. Knowing her, she will endeavor to extend her creativity again.
The dinner moment stays with me. As clear or hard or stubborn as I am, I’m not going to move on the point of being my son’s father and, with my wife, his main teacher. I told Renee at the table not to fool with me. And she knows what that means. Plus, I take opportunities to explain again when needed. I’m pretty sure I’ll edit my sister’s involvement until she gets the picture. And because she knows me, she knows what to expect. Hopefully she’ll get her self together. Otherwise, auntie will only have supervised visits where daddy can immediately un-do some things with the boy.
I’m going to play devil’s advocate here. Aunts and uncles are often agent provocateurs. My brother has already promised to buy our son the noisiest toys he can find. I in turn provide a refuge for his eleven-year-old daughter, who apparently is already under a lot of pressure to get into an ivy league university, by telling her she is perfect already and letting her just be a kid when she’s away from mom and dad. Running some counter-measures against the parents is one of the pleasures of being an aunt or uncle, and sometimes just what the child needs.
I will, of course, check back in with you in a couple of years to let you know if my amusement has waned.
Somehow I knew you would comment on this, Byron. You are very right in this here. And do check in with me later on your level of amusement.