One of the most fun things I did this summer was spend time with my cousin Jennifer, and help her with her four kids, Janessa, Jayden, Julianna, and Jiyanni. Jennifer and I, although we're about 10 years apart in age, get along really well, so it's always fun to just hang out, but I love her kids to pieces, so helping her watch them was an absolute joy for me :).
There was one day towards the end of the summer when all of the adults had gone fishing, so Jenny took on the task of having all of the younger kids (my sister includes herself in this group) over at Aunty Jane's house, where she stays during the summer, over to play and hang out all day. I went over too, to help Aunty Jane on the bus (she drives a school bus for disabled children), but I ended up staying all day with Jenn and the kids. Jenn had her friend's two daughters over too, so all in all there were 8 kids of all ages- Jiyanni, 18 months, Julianna, 3, Malina, 6, Mia, 8, Jayden, 8, Taieena, 8, Janessa, 10, and Kami, 15. It was so crazy, having them all running around, screaming and playing and teasing each other and having fun. Jenn, of course, had it all under control- she's like SuperMom! But anyways, we had the kids do scavenger hunts and play word games and crack macadamia nuts and swing on the trees- it was so fun to just hang out with Jennifer and just watch all of those little cousins having so much fun together. It brought back so many wonderful memories of me and my cousins being that age and having the same fun, laughing and crying and playing and just enjoying being kids. It was equally wonderful to talk to Jenn, who has so much wisdom and perspective for being so young (hey, she has four kids!), about growing up and falling in love and going off into the world and finding yourself. It was like three seasons of my life were rolling on tape right in front of my eyes, magically: The good old kid days that we spend rolling down hills with our cousins and staying up late on air mattresses in the living room; the now days, that we spend with our friends as we learn the hard lessons and start trying to figure out how to be ourselves in the great big world; and the future days that we spend with our families, with babies on our hips and toddlers falling down and scraping their knees and husbands and homes and the ability to look back on our kid days and our now days and understand that we're passing that on to the next generation.
All of that, simply from a good, long day of babysitting my nieces and nephews and being called Aunty and talking story with my cousin. I love summer.
|Julianna- rockin' stunna shades|
|Jiyanni! What a ham|
2. A Lesson I've Learned
I'm still slowly learning this, but this just got put into perspective for me: Getting older doesn't mean that you stop asking for help when you fall down, it just means that along with asking for help comes with realizing, accepting, and dealing with the fact that you've made a mistake. And also that, even though you always can ask for help, there is no excuse for making mistakes repeatedly. No one can do everything by themselves- there's no superpower that keeps you from messing up, because everyone does. But it's important (and extremely comforting, might I add) to always know that your family is there for you when you do mess up, no matter how old you get. Messing up just comes with a little more responsibility. :)
3. A Wonderful Relative
I talked about her already in my memory, but I feel like I should pay her special tribute here. My cousin Jennifer is, quite simply, amazing. I look up to her and admire her so much. She knows the value and the paramount importance of family- just look at her and her own beautiful family and you can see it. She didn't go to college, and she doesn't get paid money for her job, but her career is bigger than any executive VIP sitting behind a desk in some big, corporate building: She has a loving husband and four beautiful children, and the life she's made with them is, to my eyes, more rewarding than any paycheck. The thing I admire most about that, though, is that she does everything she does the way our Grandma Julia taught us. We were taught to love each other and to help each other no matter what; to always be there for each other and to always be together. That's the way Jenn has brought up her little Alderete family, and every day she teaches her kids that as well. She's incredibly giving (not to mention a blast to hang out with and a whiz at the girl talk) and she puts family first, and that love and devotion is something I aspire to, someday in the far future when I have a little family of my own.
4. A Realization
My mom and I are extraordinarily different people, in many different ways.We have very different ways of viewing things; we have different opinions and different attitudes and different habits and different interests. But in spite of that, I've realized that we are really very much the same. We love and we laugh and we give and we celebrate, and sometimes we cry and get angry and irrational and swear a little too much, a little too loudly. We hold grudges and then get over them; we don't take bullshit and agree that lying is unacceptable. She's taught me so much about how to be a good person and how not to be a bad person, and I have so much to thank her for that if I tried I'd be going on and on for an eternity. I'm so glad that my mom is who she is- a wonderful mommy and an extraordinary friend.