The Best Uncle Ever

12 March 2004

My brother, Tony, brought Alex — the youngest of his two sons — to work this morning. I entertained him for a while. Or, rather, he entertained me.


Alex comes into my office, wearing his Gap-brand child’s hoodie. I shake my head. He’s three-years-old and already a slave to fashion.

Alex: I’ve got a candy in my mouth and in my pocket
Me: You have two candies?
Alex: I have a blue one. In my mouth
Me: What flavor is it
Alex: It’s blue (Accidentally spits it onto the ground. It’s covered with dirt.)
Me: (Loudly, so Tony can hear.) Quick. You’ve only got five seconds. Pick it up and put it in your mouth.
Alex: It’s yicky.
Me: Nah, it’s okay. It was only on the floor for two seconds, tops.

Me: What are you doing here today?
Alex: (Pointing at the floor, which is bare plywood.) We just colored on that. (He and his brother, Michael, have colored on it many times in the past.)
Me: What are you doing here today, Alex?
Alex: Nothing.
Me: And what will you do later?
Alex: Dad said I can do mumble. (Grins.)
Me: Do what?
Alex: Nothing.
Me: Do what?
Alex: Nothing.

Alex: (Pointing at my breakfast bowl.) What’s this?
Me: It’s a bowl. What does it look like?
Alex: Frosting. (Pause.) There’s a bug in it. There’s an ant. There’s an ant at your house. There’s one right there.
Me: Let’s see. Oh, there is. Gross.
Alex: (Urgently.) You’ve got to get him. His touch is yicky. Yick. I’ve gotta tell Daddy. I’ve gotta tell daddy there’s an ant. (Runs from my office, shouting—) Dad, there’s an ant in his house!

Me: Are you going to come over to my house tomorrow?
Alex: Yeah.
Me: Are you?
Alex: Yeah.
Me: What are you going to do at my house?
Alex: Just play toys.
Me: Tony, are your kids coming over tomorrow?
Tony: For the chicken fest?
Me: (Indignant.) Chicken noodle fest.
Tony: Uh — hadn’t planned on it.
Me: Why not?
Tony: They’ll break your stuff, dude.
Me: Do you think they’ll be the only kids there?
Tony: The only destructive ones.
Alex: Only me here. I’m the only one.
Me: Come on. (Peer-pressure voice.) Everyone will be there.
Tony: Is Jeff going to be there?
Me: Yeah.
Tony: There you go. Alex’ll be pushing Noah down the stairs. Alex doesn’t like babies.
Me: Neither does Emma. They could team up. They’d beat up all the other kids.
Tony: Ha. There you go. Tell me what time you want people to leave, and I’ll bring my kids over then.
Alex: (Panicked, feeling inside his pocket) I don’t feel candy. (Relieved) Yes I do.

Alex: (Comes in, carrying a huge bottle of water that Nick has poured for him) Lookit! This is Big Water.
Me: Yes it is.
Alex: This is Big Water.
Me: I’ll give you a box of candy if you drink all that water.
Tony: Alex, can you sing that song?
Nick: There’s a Big Water song?
Alex: (Singing) Big big wahteh, big gibberish.

Me: Do you wanna go for a walk?
Alex: Yeah, let’s go outside.
Me: Look, your Uncle Jeff is burning a fire. Do you wanna go see?
(We walk out to the burn pile.)
Jeff: Your mom and dad sure had a lot of stuff to burn. It made a lot of black smoke.
Alex: It’s really hot.
Me: Fire is like that.
Jeff: The black smoke was probably shoes. (No, I don’t get it either.)
(Alex asks to be taken inside the shop where the guys are making boxes.)
Me: Cristobal, do you want another niño?
Cristobal: Where’s Michael?
Alex: At school.
Cristobal: At school?
Me: Preschool.
José: (Shouting from outside) Hello, Alex.
Me: Come on, let’s get out of the way.
(As we move aside, there’s a loud thud behind me. I look back and Alex is flat against the floor, his Big Water rolling away. He’s tripped over a piece of wood.)
Me: Alex, are you okay?
Cristobal: (Behind Alex, holding his hands in the air, grinning.) I didn’t do it.
Me: Come on, big guy, you’re okay. Here’s your Big Water.

(We watch José drive the forklift for awhile until Alex gets fidgety.)
Me: Now where do you want to go?
Alex: (Pointing at warehouse) Let’s walk through there.
(We walk through the warehouse, looking at the big stacks of corrugated. The air compressor comes on and scares us. Outside I can see robins hopping along. One has a worm in its mouth.)
Me: Look, there’s some birds. They’re robins. (Alex runs at them.) No, don’t chase them! If you chase them, they fly away and then you can’t look at them anymore
Alex: There’s another one. (Runs at it.)

Alex: Let’s sit down.
Me: We can sit down when we get inside.
Alex: I want to sit down now. My head hurts.
Me: What, do you have a five minute pain delay?

(Time passes. Alex comes into my office again.)
Alex: I wanna show you something.
Me: What is it? (Alex takes my hand and leads me down the hallway to the kitchen.)
Alex: (Pointing.) I want some of that.
Me: Ding Dongs? (Pause.) That sounds like a great idea. (Cackles.) There you go.
Alex: Mmm. Mmmm. Mmm. Mmm.
Me: I’m the best uncle ever!

Comments


On 12 March 2004 (12:29 PM),
Lynn said:

So, if you’re really the best uncle ever, you should be taking your nephews, and other young friends, to the “Sing-a-long Wizard of Oz!” In the tradition of “Sing-a-long Sound of Music,” it’s coming to Cinema 21 on NW 21st in Portland from April 9 – 18. It’s great fun and costumes are not only encouraged, but rewarded!



On 12 March 2004 (01:51 PM),
nate said:

Jesus: (Behind Alex, holding his hands in the air, grinning.) I didn’t do it.”

This line is inadvertantly hilarious until you realize that you don’t mean the Jesus. ;) That Jesus; such a prankster! Even being God’s son can’t stop him from being wacky!



On 12 March 2004 (04:37 PM),
Nikchick said:

Nate’s right! That line totally gave me visions of a twisted sort of Family Circus strip. Jesus, as the invisible “Not Me”, standing over Billy’s prone body, shrugging.

Ha! That’s going to amuse me for some time.



On 12 March 2004 (04:48 PM),
J.D. Roth said:

Ha! Lynn, your Wizard of Oz comment is funny because one of my favorite parents has prohibited me from screening the film for her children (three and five). She and I have different opinions about what is age-appropriate for children, but I try to respect her wishes.

As for the Jesus thing, I’ve changed the name to Cristobal which, while not true is True enough. Know what I mean?



On 12 March 2004 (05:42 PM),
Mom (Sue) said:

This makes me want to see Alex soooo bad! But it’s nice that he is old enough for his dad to take him to the shop when he comes in on his day off. And it’s good that he get more firmly introduced to the world of his uncles. (I was going to say “wacky world” but somehow thought that wasn’t something a loving mother would say, especially since those uncles are such nice people.) -G- I would have loved to have him come here today but I was feeling pretty rotten late this morning and afternoon so it wouldn’t have worked. I will have to miss your fest tomorrow for the same reason, J.D.; also, because I don’t do chicken noodle soup. Since you have invited the whole Internet, have you been able to come up with a head count?



On 12 March 2004 (09:45 PM),
Virginia said:

Sounds like such a fun idea. (Chicken Noodle Soup)
Since I can’t be there I guess I’ll eat a can of Chicken Noodle Soup for lunch in memory of the box of Chicken Noodle Soup mom used to keep under the bench in the breakfast nook. I think it was just for Steve’s boys. Was it you JD or was it for Jeff?



On 13 March 2004 (09:53 AM),
Emily said:

haha. man i wish my uncle let me eat candy off the ground! i have to do it when no one is looking. hehe



On 13 March 2004 (10:10 AM),
Mom (Sue) said:

I think that all three of my boys loved Grandma and Grandpa’s chicken noodle soup, Virginia. It was always Campbell’s, too. I never have liked that soup — I guess I could be doing ads for Progresso. -G- The way I’m feeling, I probably ought to also be celebrating J.D.’s party by eating some of the Progresso chicken noodle soup I think I have on hand (I know I have some of their chicken and wild rice). I knew yesterday that I wouldn’t be feeling good enough to make it to J.D. and Kris’s soup fest because if I get to feeling crummy, it never lasts for just one day. Naturally, I am feeling worse today. Bummer, that. I will miss the opportunity to see my little grandson Noah as well as his parents and uncle and aunt. I hope that J.D. writes an entry about who all else was there and who I missed seeing.

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