I am blessed with two beautiful nephews. They are 5 and 3 years old - Captain Underpants and Johnny Drama. They are not the kind of boys to leave their presence unknown. In fact, you could say that the mere prospect of being responsible for these two boisterous individuals is what caused my sister to start going grey 18 years before she had them.
I don't get to see them an awful lot as they live 4,000 miles away - it averages out at two weeks in a year, but given that they seem to time their raucous behaviour with the second that my sister picks up the telephone, I get to hear them quite a lot. Not that they need a telephone to transmit their voices 4,000 miles, mind you.
When I do get to see them, we have to start all over again with building up the relationship, something that is currently difficult to do because they are boys and gravitate more towards men as opposed to 'girls'. But thinking about how I may or may not measure up as an Auntie led me to think about my own favourite Auntie: Auntie Marje.
Auntie Marje is my Mum's (fraternal) twin sister. My Mum is the same size as me - UK Size 10. Auntie Marje is four times our size.
The great thing about Marje being, well, so Large, was that whenever she visited I could fall asleep on her with ease. I could never get comfortable with Mum - snuggling up with Mum always resulted with a hip bone in my ear, or a rib in my chest - there was nothing to sink in to.
So it's just as well that my nephews have little inclination to snuggle up with me, because if they did, I couldn't offer the same level of comfort as Marje.
Auntie Marje was (and still is) incredibly funny. Or is 'complete nutcase' a more apt term? She always seems to get herself in to scrapes and laughs her way out of them.
Marje was once in town with my cousin (who was probably about 6 years old), and when they reached Woolworths my cousin's usual whinings started to brew in to a temper tantrum. Wanting to nip this behaviour in the bud sooner rather than later, Marje turned to give my cousin a swift clip on the back of her head. But unfortunately her hand accidentally (and only slightly) connected with my cousin's nose, which was prone to violent nose-bleeds with the smallest provocation.
Within seconds of making contact, Marje found herself at the centre of a disapproving crowd who had been drawn to the scene both by the copious amounts of blood all over the floor and by my cousin's loud screams of:
"MY MUH-MEE JUST HIT MEEEEEEE!!!!! MY MUH-MEE JUST HI-I-IT ME-E-E!!!!"
And the only words of explanation that she could find?
"Oh don't worry - her nose is always bleeding like that....."
One Christmas, my cousin and I delighted in trying to creep up on Marje, at which point she would spin round and chase us with her fist raised, shouting "D'YA WANNA BUNCH OF FIIIIIIVES? .....OR A KNUCKLE SANDWICH?!" We thought this was hysterical and continued until our knees were weak with laughter and the hallway carpet was threatened with little puddles.
The following Parents' Evening, Marje was led to my cousin's desk where all of her latest work was on display. There was her Maths book, her History book and oh yes, her English book. Marje looked down at the open page under the teacher's watchful gaze and with horror read the words written in careful and serious blue ink:
'My Mum often says to me "Do you want a bunch of fives or a knuckle sandwich?"'
And then there was a wedding only a few years ago at which Marje catered a buffet, for a friends daughter. Within half an hour of arriving (halfway through the main meal) she had:
- Fallen over in the centre of the hall's wooden floor, lying stranded on her back like a tortoise until two strong men came to her assistance and used two chairs to lever her back on her feet;
- Sneezed all over the bride upon introduction, being highly allergic to the table flowers;
- Been invited to shuffle in to join her friend at the top table for some cake, requiring everyone else to shuffle out first;
- Broke the plate of her false teeth on the first mouthful of cake, causing everyone to shuffle back out again and leading to cries of 'anyone got any superglue?' amongst the wedding party; and lastly:
- Accidentally stuck her false teeth firmly to the palm of her hand whilst trying to glue them back together in the ladies toilets.
Not surprisingly, the wedding video captured the voice of the Groom's mother loudly proclaiming "Who IS that fat woman?"
Oh, maybe I'll never be an Auntie Marje in the boys' eyes.. but that's okay. I'm sure one day I will make them laugh with her stories..