JUST CHERYL: I’ve been Connored!
For whatever reasons, I am the family’s Auntie Mame or their AUNT CHERYL! I prioritize my relationships and while my Dave and being a mom comes first, I can guarantee you being an Aunt Cheryl is next in my life. It is when I believe I am at my finest. There are no restrictions to being Aunt Cheryl. I am a confidant, a secret keeper, a memory maker, and a trustworthy source of protection when all else fails, all without effort. I can be wacky and I can be serious. I can do almost anything I darn well want and I am still loved, unconditionally and with no boundaries that I can find. I guard this role and the trust that comes with it from my many nieces and nephews.
My niece, Michelle, is married to Neil and every mother should want a son-in-law like him. And that makes him a perfect nephew of my heart. He is quiet, thoughtful, logical and willing to put up with my humor but then again he handles the same for Michelle. He will even patiently explain sports to me..well sometimes. Michelle is outgoing, funny, and has a compassionate soul bigger than all of us. Michelle and I have always had a special tie because of events in our lives. She is everything I wish I could have been and then more. If you don’t’ believe me, go to www.facebook/queenofevents.com. Wow! And both of them have produced the most incredible child, Connor Dale Joyce, my great nephew. Connor is three years old going on thirty.
I have not been able to be around Connor as much as I like. I made a date to go visit Michelle, Neil and Connor so Connor would get to know his Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Dave. I can only say that if you have not had a three year old around you for any appreciable length of time you have missed the best part of life. And perhaps, biased that I may be, you need to have a Connor in your life.
From the minute I walked in when he yelled “It’s Aunt Cheryl” until the night I read him a book about a Rink-Rinker-Fink with him curled in my arms, I fell my heart give a special twang of unconditional love. I ran from one room to the other chasing imaginary people around the house, blowing bubbles in the yard, and laughing until I could laugh no more. He even got Dave to give him ‘magical powers’ by touching fingertip to fingertip. And Dave, who said he didn’t do pretend well, was able to handle himself quite well in the land of great imagination. Connor sang the blessing with clear voice and goodness only a child can bring in acknowledging a higher power than all of us. And Connor had the entire table of family that night singing Toura Loura at dinner, raising our glasses in cheers to each other. His imitation of Fredo in the Godfather is priceless. And when, as three year olds do, it got too be a bit much or he crossed that parental boundary, Neil would look at him and say “take it down a notch, dude” and he would promptly rein himself in.
He throws his arms around you out of the blue and tells you he loves you. He makes sure you know what he can or can’t do. Michelle and Neil have instilled in him a sense of responsibility that absolutely amazes me. They have exposed him to the world in such a way that he can sit and eat sushi with grown-ups and can be a small boy with a need to be hugged now and then.
I went to bed that night with a more than a few aches and pains from being more active in one day than I had been in a year. And I also felt the most relaxed I had felt in ages. And my worries that today’s parents don’t know what they are doing is taken off the table. I saw a child who is very much loved but with good boundaries. He knows the expectations and is given the tools to grow beyond his age. He knows what is right and what is wrong. He is self-governing and knows he is responsible for his actions. He is quick to laugh and quick to smile. And like all little boys, he occasionally gets a bit in trouble, and while the tears may form, or the lower lip tremble, it doesn’t last long and he promptly gets back into the Connor mode. He is a little boy who can make your heart take that extra beat when he tells you that he loves you.
Our family is known for having its own vocabularly. For example, we all know that ‘woo-woos’ are the things in bushes whose eyes glow in the dark. And a ‘thing-a-ma-jiggy’ is what you can never remember the name of. And now we add “Being Connored”. Being Connored is entering the world of pretend and imagination; it is laughter, grins and giggles, and it is blowing bubbles in the air, and reading abou Rink-rinker-finks and snuvs and gloves. Its singing at the top of your lungs without embarrassment. Its about aches and pains from running and jumping and hugging and laughing. It is unconditional loving at its finest. And its about being brought back into the magic world of children. And when that all happens to you then darned but you have just been connored.