When my sister, Sonni’s, kids were children, my husband, Bobby, and I lived over three hours away from them. That meant we didn’t get many opportunities to see them, let alone be a part of their lives. (The same is true about Bobby’s sister’s kids, only they were in Massachusetts, much farther away.) When Sonni’s kids grew up, they moved away from Northeast Ohio, which further complicated things. Then, our oldest niece, Ashley, moved to Columbus and more recently to Lodi. While her move might be temporary, it has afforded us with more chances to spend with her and her boys, DeAveon and Noah.
This past winter we enjoyed spending time together at the Alice Noble Ice Arena on two separate occasions. Once was an event with our church, Parkview Christian Church. We enjoyed ice skating and I think the boys also did a little bit of broomball hockey. At first we were a little nervous. I don’t think any of them (Ashley, Dee or Noah) had been on ice skates before. I had, but it was a quite a while ago. Although Bobby didn’t skate, he did help Ashley and the boys with making sure their skates were laced up tight enough. Then out on the ice Noah, Ashley and I used the “guides” to help us. (I only used mine one time around, because it was sort of like riding a bike.) Dee was brave and started right out on his own. It wasn’t until too long when both he and Noah were racing with us (Ashley and me). In our defense, Ashley is pregnant and, well, I have never been what you would call athletic.
The second time we were at the rink was for a broomball event that The Village Network was having. I work for The Village, which is how I knew about it. Broomball is where you play “hockey” using a ball and sticks with a little plastic broom shaped end. You don’t wear ice skates, but instead just your tennis shoes. Doesn’t sound so hard until you realize you are not as young as you used to be and you hear how people can break a hip falling. Then you can get a little nervous. But, if you are young and closer to the ground and more athletic, you have a great time and “skate” circles around your favorite great aunt. Or at least that was my experience with Dee and Noah! They had such a great time, that they didn’t want it to end.
But not everything we with Dee and Noah involves risks of injury. Later in the spring we were invited to see Noah sing in the Cloveleaf Elementary school First Grade spring concert. The thing that stood out to me was there were so many of them! I think the music director said there were 100 first graders! I didn’t count, but it seemed like a lot of children on stage. Noah was so cute!
He was towards the top of the risers, but he sang all the songs and participated in the hand motions. I was so excited when it was his group’s turn to play the xylophone. For first graders, they did pretty well.
Then at the end of the school year, we were invited to come to Dee’s “Clap out.” I had never heard of that before. What it entails is lining up on the sidewalk outside of the elementary school and applauding as the fifth grade class walks out. We were clapping them out of elementary school because next year they will be in middle school. Hard to believe Dee is so grown up that he’ll be in middle school next year. Yikes!
And finally, it was my birthday week. When I was trying to figure out things that I wanted to do to celebrate, I knew that it had to involve Dee and Noah. But this time I wanted it to be with them one at a time. Not that they are too difficult to handle together, but I was hoping one-on-one (or one-on-two actually, because Bobby joined us), would show them how much it means to me to develop our relationship. O.K. I’m a realist. I understand that a 10 year old and 7 year old might not fully grasp this, but I’m planting seeds that hopefully when I am old will mean they will come and visit me in the nursing home! One can hope, you know.
Bobby, Dee and I went to Country Pride Truckstop to get steak for dinner. (Dee loves steak and so do I!) Thankfully they had it on their buffet, so Dee didn’t have to settle for just the 8 ounce steak that Uncle Bobby had threatened him with. I guess at a previous visit he had gotten a 10 ounce steak.
Bobby, Noah and I went to Courthouse Pizza in Medina and split a large pizza with half cheese and half pepperoni and bacon. Then we went to School House Scoops for ice cream. Noah wanted a large, but settled for a medium Superman ice cream cone. It was pretty big for a medium!
Bobby and I might have missed doing these kind of things with our nieces and nephews when they were kids, but thankfully we have a second chance with some of the “greats” as my mom, Dolores, calls them. I don’t know if soccer, football or basketball games are in our future, but whatever, I hope I am able to be there cheering on these terrific kids and watering the seeds that will grow into strong family roots — old age seems to be fast approaching!