Aunts and Uncles Everywhere

Posted: August 15th, 2006 | Author: | Filed under: Friends and Strangers | No Comments »

Growing up on the Least Coast as I did, there was a certain amount of formality that’s not present in Cali. And I guess it was Different Times then, as they say. So when it came to addressing my parents’ friends, or anyone a few decades or so older than myself, I referred to them as Mr. or Mrs. Oh, and I guess I used Miss too. My second grade teacher, the crotchety Miss Vermette, was never married (Ye Olde Stereotypical School Marm) and lived with her sister (another bachelorette) into her decrepitude. So she was a Miss.

At any rate, the thought of having my friends’ kids—or anyone else frankly—call me Mrs. McClusky, is laughable. In these times and these parts we go by first names, or Aunt or Uncle.

Sunday we had the pleasure of attending Lisa and Jackson’s co-birthday party. Last year instead of doing something like getting a massage for her birthday, Lisa got an epidural and gave birth to the sweet dark-eyed Jackson. I tell you that boy will be a lady killer. Oy, is he cute!

When you have the same birthday as your one-year-old and you are as clever a hostess as Lisa is, you have a Cocktails and Cupcakes party. So once Kate and Mark woke up from naps and we all got clean diapers and/or clothes on, we headed to Burlingame. The shindig was in their lovely yard, a warm, sunny afternoon—and it was one of those parties where the true-blues stay a little later than everyone else and you leave feeling all lucky to have the friends that you do.

At one point when I was on the blanket the babes were playing on I think I was trying to give little miss Ella an Oatio (organic Cheerio, if you’re not down). Her dad Jason said something like, “Ella, Aunt Kristen is trying to give you something,” and although it was a blip on my mental screen then, I thought later (just about now, in fact), that I had a little flicker of pride for getting the Auntie title. I fully intend to live up to it.

In our world of bringing our kids everywhere (my mother asked once, “Does anyone in California ever get a sitter?”), and relaxed “I wipe your kid’s nose, you wipe mine” friendships, we’ve dispensed with the formality of the Mr. and Mrs. titles entirely and opted to keep it all in the family. Maybe, probably, these crazy Californians have been doing it that way for years, but be that as it may, I’d like to think the fact that our friends’ kids call us Uncle and Aunt is something that’s more unique to our brand of friendship, or what some would call our “urban tribe.”

I think there’s also one part that’s a recognition of the importance that these kids—be they mine or yours–have in our world today. The children-should-be-seen-and-not-heard era is ancient history. We care deeply about what these kids think, feel, say. The profusion of parenting magazines, books and websites out there may make some think we care too much. And sure, it bugs me when I hear parents be overly precious with their kids instead of letting them tough out some things on their own. But net/net I’d like to think you can’t really care too much when you’re talking about your kids. And if you could, it wouldn’t be the worst thing.

So real Aunts and Uncles be damned! It’s the families we’ve assembled intentionally that deserve a little credit. I’m right here and plan to stick around to watch you grow up, Little Missy. You can count on me bawling at your wedding some day. Aunt Kristen is here to stay.

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