Saturday, May 28, 2011

Retirement Benefits - Great Aunthood

This weekend I had a taste of one of the retirement benefits that I’ve been looking forward to—being the great aunt to my grandnieces and grandnephew. My nephew and his family came to Providence for his 25th reunion and I entertained the twins Saturday night.

The twins are closing in on 7 years old. It’s an age (I discovered) that comes with the energy and mobility of a toddler and the mental activity that at first blush equals that of a preteen. In actuality, their minds are not quite that well developed. I found this out playing hangman, where I soon learned to ask things like “Are you sure that’s the only ‘a’ in all those letters?” Or to point out, ever so gently, “The word ‘for’ is not spelled ‘faor.’”

I also learned that eight year olds are quite adaptable and they expect to make up their own rules. Hangman phrases can include punctuation, for example. If you left the dice for the Clue game home in Connecticut, you can roll an imaginary die. And by the way, no one will find it curious that you always roll a six.

Their visit also provided my first exposure to electronic games, specifically “Plants vs. Zombies.” I am massively impressed by the creativity exhibited in the design of this game. Here are some things I learned about plants and zombies. The newspaper zombie wears polka dot boxer shorts and he moves faster when he puts his paper down. When I learn this, I imagine him with his boxers around his ankles, reading the paper while on the throne. He puts the paper down when he’s done. No wonder he moves faster then.

The zombies with buckets on their heads are harder to kill. (Hmm… aren’t zombies dead already?) The seaweed plants entangle and drown the zombies. The winter melon plants need a melon pull icon in order to work, but the game warns you if you forget this. (So why doesn’t it just give you both in the first place?) There’s a Zamboni zombie and a disco dancing one with a red Afro that reminds me of Jimi Hendrix. He comes with a disclaimer that he’s not modeled after a real person. (As if.)

When I heard (before their visit) that my grandnephew was interested in geography, I put together a game with world maps and push pins. After seeing the electronic games, I thought, “They’ll never want to play my map one.” I was wrong. They took turns picking letters and then put pins in the countries that started with that letter. The person who found the most got a prize. I refereed, explaining the difference between cities and continents and countries. When we were done, they had me leave the pins so that in the morning they could show their parents what they’d done. My head was the size of a winter melon!

The only thing weighing on my mind other than enjoying my evening with them was that I had not yet written today’s blog post. I’m confident you’ll excuse the fact that this is not full of its usual sarcasm, and that it’s a bit sparse. I’m still on duty with the twins, though they’re in bed. Truth be told, I wish I were there already, too. Being a great Great Aunt is hard work, and you don’t dare have a glass of wine while you’re doing it. Come to think of it, their warm milk with honey is looking pretty good right now. Nighty nite!

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