This past weekend, I was entrusted with the entertainment and safety of two of my little cousins. I'm sure you're thinking, "big deal", but I was actually excited and looked forward to hanging with them for a day. We will call them Snoopy (the girl and oldest) and Junebug (the baby boy). They are my "munchkins", as I like to call them, and I've been blessed to watch them grow with each passing year that I've resided in LA.
I arrived at their home Saturday morning just in time for J and D (their parents, my cousins) to get to a wedding, I was a bit behind schedule, but blame it on the unrelenting Los Angeles traffic. After Mom and Dad drove away, my first order of business was to walk down the street and meet the grandmother of one of Junebug's playmates. Lo and behold, she was picking up toys and sending the chirren' packin'. They were ready to go the next spot on the block to play video games. Junebug couldn't go though. Mommy instructed me otherwise. Outdoor play only. I walked my charges back down to the house and had a brief pow wow at which time, I decided that we should put our plans in motion and go to Chuck E. Cheese's. Snoopy grabbed the booster seats, she and I also grabbed our purses (she is such the little lady), and we piled in my ride for the short trip the The Cheese.
Chuck E. Cheese's is a fascinating place. I like it. It's like Vegas for kids, minus the disgusting smell of cigarettes. Children are so HAPPY when they pass through those doors. The energy they expend is mind boggling and the smiles are endless. All you have to do is keep their little cups full of those gold coins, give them some sugar and watchem' go! Junebug was killin' one game in particular; tickets just kept flowing from the machine. He was in heaven; accomplished in his own little way. Snoopy was getting her ticket count up too, but she made me proud when she slid some of her coins to her lil' brother so that he could continue to play. Once they were done (translation: once I stopped buying coins with their Mama's money), they tallied up and celebrated as if they'd just hit the slots in the lobby of The MGM Grand. We headed to the goodie counter, they used a few of their winnings and opted to save the rest for another time. These kids have good judgement and it made me proud.
The munchkins weren't hungry when we arrived to The Cheese so when we left our next stop was Chick-Fil-A. I love this joint. Their chicken is delicious, and they have the best nuggets you've ever tasted. They also give educational gifts in their kids meals. Can't beat that.
After The Chick, we stopped for some crossword puzzles and went home to shut it down for a minute. We watched Raven, and Junebug played games on the computer (with my adult supervision, of course.) Everthing seemed copasetic, when all of a sudden, sibling rivalry reared its ugly head. It all happned so fast, and before I knew it, Snoopy was in tears, and I was sending Junebug to his room for time out. After some explanation of the disagreement (you know, "he pushed me" "she pushed me first" and so on), I had to make an executive decision. We were going for a walk. They succeeded in hurting one anothers feelings and all three of us needed some fresh air.
Junebug was against this walk from the beginning. He's at the stage where he just wants to play with his friends, which would have been cool with me, but none of them were available. He was out-voted, 2 older chicks to 1. I gave them the option of riding their bikes, and off we went to roam the neighborhood, and visit friends, or so I thought. This is where it gets funny. I allowed my 7 and 5 year old cousins to TRICK me. They took me on a fantastic voyage, and I was on FOOT. We traveled the neighborhood, around one block and the next, turning corners, and crossing streets; I looked up and we were headed toward the bike path with their cherubic faces lit up with talk of going to the park. The park?????? I thought we were just going around the way to lil' James' house? The park was not part of the plan, but they are my munchkins so how could I say no? As we hit the bike path, I realized that I was really in for a LONG walk, especially once Snoopy figured out that we were headed in the wrong direction. The park was about a mile the other way. Solidly.
Needless to say, I was a bit concerned because Snoopy is asthmatic and since I had no idea we were going to Timbuktu, I didn't bring her enhaler, nor did we have any water for dehydration. It was pretty warm here on Saturday so I had serious cause for concern. Couple this with the fact that I have no children of my own yet, and you can imagine my thought process. However, I took a deep breath, sang an old negro spiritual and maintained my cool. We made it to the park without incident and they had a good time. Shortly after, J and D called to say they were twenty minutes away, and J offered to swing by the park and take over for me, but the kids wanted to see if we could beat the parents home, so I declined. Snoopy, Junebug, and I headed back to the ranch, and the evening ended with a report of the days activities and mishaps for Mommy, a few more tears, a spaghetti dinner, more crosswords, and Uncle J's basketball game on the tube (there are a lot of J's amongst my Cali fam.)
All in all, I had a great day, and I found new cheese. I learned a lot from my day with the munchkins. Their innocence and free spirits were refreshing, and reminded me to lighten up and live in the moment, even if I have to walk a country mile to do so.