Photo: OOOH! EEEE! A butterfly!
I spent yesterday afternoon at the Seattle Science Center with my mother and two nephins; the nephins are named that because they're sort-of nephews and sort-of cousins. I don't mean to imply that my siblings are some kind of backwater Okie's who bred half-human babies together--I just mean their dad, Brock, is my sort-of brother and sort-of cousin, therefore the nephins are, too. Brock is in between brother and cousin; he's like a King Cousin or a muted brother, something like that. His dad and my mom are sibs, but he lived with us in high school and was always my favorite friend before that. Brock and I have been invisibly joined at the hip since birth (or slightly thereafter), even though age and life and family and Lake Washington divides us these days; it's easier to stay in touch over Facebook. It seems my family is always in catch-up mode, constantly in motion; Brock's family is no different. And these children are his fault.
His kids, Braxton and Bennett, make an interesting pair; they're like the modern day equivalent of Goofus & Gallant. I don't see them very much, but when I get the chance, they're a lot of fun. Rambunctious, scream-y, fear-in-your-heart type fun. Braxton is the oldest--I think he's, like, three or four?--or maybe six, I can't remember--and he is cautious, intellectual, sweet; he's inquisitive and deliberate. Bennett, on the other hand, is... two? Man, I'm a bad aunt. He's NO MORE than two, I know that much. Bennett is like a pocket-sized Chris Farley, minus the booze and cocaine. He's all about the laughs and the screaming. He's sturdy, bullish, independent, and loud. That kid is made out of concrete. Where Braxton is sensitive, Bennett is brutish; when Braxton is deep in thought, Bennett is throwing himself off a chair five feet high. I think the wee one will be an adventure junkie, and the other one will worry. I also think Bennett looks like his dad, whereas Braxton resembles his mom, but they both look like members of the Aryan race (adorable Children of the Corn!), so it's a lot like comparing Nazis to Neo-Nazis.
We did all of the Science Center things you're supposed to do--the shadow wall, the bubbles, the anemone pool, the Planetarium, the Insect area. At the bubble pool, Bennett did a face plant into it (A POOL FILLED WITH BUBBLE MIX), and came up super excited... until he realized there was something on his face. Now the 'something' was just a big cluster of bubbles, but for some reason, he couldn't divine that--he stood there, frozen, his little hands moving towards his mouth where the cursed bubbles lay dying. Nothing on his body moved except for his slow-moving, chubby little hands, and his big round eyes--they kept flitting back and forth, rolling around, trying to find the source of this madness. Finally I wiped the bubbles off of his face, and he ran off, freed from the bubbly chains that once bound him. I couldn't figure out what that was about; he acted like ten scorpions were laying eggs into his wide open mouth. Kids are so weird.
We ended up in the bug section. This cannot be overstated in any way: I DO NOT LIKE BUGS. Another bold statement: I would rather eat Mad Cow than have a butterfly land on my finger. I'm already an angry heffer six days out of the month (the Esq would claim 16 days, but hello--the alternative to NOT having a girlfriend is HAVING ONE, and all of the trappings that come with it); I can handle tainted beef. I cannot handle the fluttering loveliness of a hand-sized insect, I just cannot. But bugs in general... horrifying. The last time I saw a spider on the floor, the Esq asked me, "Would you like me to get that?" but I couldn't answer him because I was already on a one-way flight to Mexico. Because everyone knows that Mexico is spider-free.
Something people don't seem to understand about me is that I'm not down with ANY bugs. You guys are all EWW SPIDERS EWW and then in the same breath OOOOOH A LADYBUG, EEEEE A BUTTERFLY! I'm sorry, what? The NAME of the BUG is LADY...BUG. Ladybug. If the word BUG wasn't your first clue, maybe the pronotum and antennae tipped you off. Maybe the fact that it's a part of the beetle family will change your mind--EWW BEETLES EWWW, yeah, now you see what I'm talking about. Also, the butterfly is the craziest bug of all; just because it has brightly-colored wings does not mean it isn't going to attack you. Or rather, mistakenly fly into you with its buggy little body, but WHATEVER. GROSS.
We took the kids into the Butterfly exhibit at the Science Center, which is pretty cool for people who enjoy having large flying bugs twittering about in the air and underfoot. Some of the butterflies were beautiful, but for the most part, I was trying to keep Bennett from stomping on and/or eating them. I forget how strange it must be to not have a voice. He can say certain words, but for the most part, he was pointing and screaming. And when you're excited by butterflies, but have no words, that's a lot of pointing and screaming. I believe the word "Baaaaaaa-BAAAAAAAH" was actually 'butterfly'; the distinction between that and 'bubbles' (Ba-baaaaaa-ba-BAAAAH!) was hard to discern, but I soldiered through it. He could have been saying LET ME DOWN BITCH, but I guess we'll never know.
Inside of the exhibit, I randomly remembered something about my (ex) mother-in-law. She came to visit once, and we had to work during the day, so our neighbor, James (everyone from that building will FOR SURE remember JAMES), took her to the Butterfly Exhibit. He paid for it, but because she thought it was so BORING--I think she used the word 'pointless', I also remember the phrase 'serious waste of money'--she reimbursed him for the ticket. I don't really have any judgment attached to the story, I just find it extremely funny that she rejected the Butterfly Exhibit outright; no niceties to grease the wheel, no polite nodding of the head, just a firm and final THIS SHIT IS RETARDED.
The kids tired us out as much as the Science Center did them; it just confirmed my semi-childlessness. I'm good with the one. I don't know how people do it. My mom kept saying, "I'm so glad you came!" because she would have been way outnumbered if she'd gone on her own. We went on the Monorail and walked around Westlake Center, we rode the carousel with the boys, we had lunch at the Center House. Lunch was strange: Bennett was eating yogurt with one hand and a pickle with the other. He's like a little human garbage can. I tried engaging both boys in a lunch conversation, while waiting in line at Subway, but it ultimately went nowhere.
Me: So...what do you people eat?
Braxton: What people?
Me: You. Little people. Kids and such.
Braxton: LITTLE PEOPLE? You think I'm LITTLE?
Me: No, not like--NO. You're the perfect size. I mean, what do you want to EAT? Here at Subway? Right now? In this very moment?
Braxton: I like spaghetti.
Me: How about a sandwich that tastes nothing like spaghetti? Like tuna!
Me (holding Bennett): So!
Me: What would YOU like to eat?
Bennett: BAH BUH BUHHHH BAAAAAAAAAH BAH!
Me: Sounds like another tuna sandwich to me.
Braxton: He can't talk.
Me: You don't think that sounded like "tuna sandwich"?
Braxton: Maybe he said 'spaghetti'.
Me: TUNA IT IS!
After buying tuna sandwiches ("...AND Cheetos...AND apple juice...AND a cookie!" said Braxton, who clearly hoped they were spaghetti-flavored), my mom came back from the loo and we sat down for lunch. Braxton surveyed his delicious bounty and nodded sharply to me (although I like to think of it as 'bowing' or 'genuflecting'). "This is the most awesomest lunch EVER, Auntie Marika!" Technically, I think that dipping an oversized pickle into fruit-flavored yogurt is probably the most awesomest lunch ever, but I didn't say so. Bennett's stomach must be like Highlander's, although I think there can only be one.
Upon leaving, we strapped the boys in (I also equate this phrase with putting on a bra), and my mom gave Braxton a piece of gum. He was happily chewing away on it when a big "HMPH" came from the backseat; I turned around, and there was a very sad face sporting a very stuck-out lip. My mom asked him what was wrong; apparently he'd swallowed his gum: "MY MOUTH JUST SWALLOWED IT!" he cried. He said the word 'swallowed' in the same manner you might say HORNSWAGGLED or GENITAL WARTS. I thought the image of his mouth being a totally separate entity--a totally separate, TRAITOROUS entity--was very visual. My mom offered to drive me to 826 Seattle, and before we left, Braxton struggled to understand volunteerism.
Braxton: What's a volunteer?
Me: It's someone who works for free.
Braxton: But why?
Me: Why, indeed.
I also did that thing that my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles have done to me over the ages: "HEY YOU GUYS, LOOK OVER HERE, THERE'S THE COOLEST BRIDGE ON THE LEFT..." and I started in on the bridge's information and possible history--then realized OH MY GOD I'M EVEN BORING MYSELF. My family members always wanted us to look out the window at something, learn something new, check out some crazy wonderful thing in nature, and I was all YAAAAAAAAWN. I wondered why they felt we needed to learn anything while riding in the car--wasn't I learning enough from my Sweet Valley High book? Now that the tables have turned, I am no closer to understanding why people do this, or why I am quickly falling into the category of Teacher to Unwilling Participants. At least Braxton was interested, but Bennett was sleeping like the dead; luckily, I have the rest of his life to teach him stuff that he won't give a shit about.
The day ended with tutoring at my favorite space travel supply company, and eating at Pies & Pints with Whoreleen and the Esq. Their chicken pot pies are TO DIE FOR, NOM NOM NOM.
A good day, overall.