An Aunt Day at the symphony

In Life by LauraLeave a Comment

I solemnly swear that we’re up to no good.

Over the past few years, Aunt Day has become a spontaneous day of magic in which the nieces and I discover something incredible. I do believe it began on a family trip when their parents had no choice but to trust me to chase the wildest one down a mountain. She giggled loudly as she skied far ahead of the rest of us. By the time I caught up, we were reaching the bottom and the rest of our crew was no where to be found. Flying solo!

The girls and I met 5 years ago – which is crazy to think now. At the time, they were 5 and 7. Today, they’re 10 and 12. What began as an occasional movie and trip to the book store has turned into museum wandering, Science City exploring, Marvel marathoning and Harry Potter everything-ing. Where they once wouldn’t eat a single thing we suggested – now, we go out to restaurants and they order for themselves. We ride the rail car through downtown. We go to the symphony. These ages of theirs are loads of fun.

I’m no parent. I’m mostly definitely an aunt and, with that, I get a few perks of the whole not-a-parent gig. I don’t have to worry about how they’re reprimanded – I take them out to do adult things and treat them like adults. In exchange, they act like adults (too much so – time slow down!) and we have a seriously wonderful time together. When it’s just me and them, I don’t have to worry for a minute about any of that. I also have the benefit of getting to show and teach them things about the world that I wish I’d known sooner. Their parents, without a doubt, have the heavy responsibility of raising amazing children. Thanks to that, auntie here gets the lucky luxury of making sure they dream big.

And that, I assure you, they do.

Our most recent Aunt Day included brunch, an afternoon at the symphony and their cousin’s birthday party. Through every step of the day, I learned tons about their lives right now.

The oldest is on Instagram. She’s been texting us all for awhile now. She writes fan fiction and appears to have some very strong opinions about the world. She is actively absorbing each and every thing she reads on the internet and reiterating it in her own writing and commentary. It wasn’t until brunch that I knew she was following me.

My gut instinct was relief. Then – quickly – uncertainty. She is following me.

First, she’s going to see a version of myself online that does not fully reflect who she knows day-to-day. What I share, specifically on Instagram, spotlights my greatest passion – travel. I share photos and stories from my adventures – letting others peek in and allowing them to relive the moments with me.

To be fair, my everyday absolutely does not seem that glamorous. Like most of the world, I work. I throw my whole self into my laptop screen and I write or design or respond to email or schedule meetings or talk and talk and talk until I’m done hearing my own voice. To most adults, it makes sense that I escape to my escapes. Most understand that my Insta is not my reality. Does she?

I don’t have the answer there. Where I eventually landed was – if she looks at my Insta – she will absolutely dream of far off places. She will wonder what’s beyond the city limits. She will, eventually, go exploring. And that’s all I can hope to inspire.

She already endlessly mentions her future trip to London. I can only hope that I’ve somewhat reinforced the epicness of that. London, to this day, is one of my most favourite cities. Plus, it’s about an hour on the train to the Harry Potter sound stages which – for a basically 13-year-old – is pretty damn compelling. I mean, even at 31, it’s one of the cooler nerd-things I have to talk about.

Our Insta-talk quickly stepped to YouTube when the younger of the two said she’s going to ask mom to have a YouTube channel when she gets a phone. Instantly, the difference in social media preference was intriguing to me. Marketer mind never shuts off, you guys.

The younger is spunky. She is playful and daring and tests the waters in all scenarios. For quite awhile, she was the youngest, and with new younger cousins, she’s quickly adapted to being more central in the family – which seems to have given her the room to learn from the older while leading the littles. Basically, she’s growing up way too fast and still knows how to push boundaries. As aunt, I think it’s my responsibility to foster that fire.

Together, we debated the merits of the two platforms. Instagram has some video components now including the live and TV elements. But the younger still emphasized the fun of having a YouTube channel, watching all the videos and sharing her own video content. She straight up had zero interest in our stale photos.

I asked what kind of videos they would make. Most were unspecific but included her friends, her baking interests and maybe some Marvel or Harry Potter stuff.

Later in the day, at their cousin’s birthday, we “unboxed” numerous L.O.L. Surprise! toys. Have you seen these, friends? I am still in awe. At this point in time, the surprise unboxing fad and texture obsessions we see trending in content makes way too much sense. Their excitement and interest in the entire process was electric.

The energy mimicked something similar for one of Aaron’s younger cousins over the holiday. The kid opened small egg-sized “pills” loaded with squishy toys. Each egg contained a different character which even his mom raved was a rarity and super awesome surprise picking on his uncle’s part.

Again – not a parent – so, this entire surprise thing is super foreign to me. I can only understand it in the context of my own childhood joy when presented with a Happy Meal. “Ugh, I already have this one,” was a common theme when pulling the plastic-wrapped miniature Barbie from the greasy box.

This, though, this L.O.L. Surprise!-fest involved the littlest cousin and everyone else in the room. She had and shared the experience with everyone around here – despite her lack of YouTube channel. Mamah, Aunt Lala, mom, dad, grandpa, all the older cousins – we were sucked in until the very last surprise was revealed. Then, we put every piece into it’s proper place to reveal even more useful accessories and toy combinations. It was nuts.

Turning off my marketing brain, we scurried into our seats at the KC Symphony for an afternoon of watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on a massive screen while the strings hummed the score below. It was stunning.

As we move into our next year, I think the pair have come to silently understand that Aunt Day emphasizes the magic and surprise of experiences we haven’t tried yet.

Goofy as it may feel, I wouldn’t trade anything for the opportunity to wear a warlock’s robe to the symphony while having our wands examined by security. As long as they’re willing – I will jump at every opportunity for an awkward photo with them in front of a picturesque castle. And, at the end of our day, I hope the surprise of something new and different is even more compelling than a plastic orb full of kinetic sand and a rubber kitten. And, if the plastic orb is the preference, may the experience that surrounds it always be shared with your family of confused onlookers fully supporting your joy.

If I can succeed at helping to instill that much zest for life – then, by all means – mischief managed.

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