I wanted to get this particular memory set down before I forget because it is so funny -- priceless moments with a loved child.
My younger nephew, Dayden, just turned seven. He is what some people fondly describe as "all boy." And you know what I mean by that, right? Think: Huckleberry Finn. Think: the Artful Dodger. Or even Dennis the Menace. Just trust me that while he may be naughty, he's often very funny, usually unintentionally. It's interesting to watch him, just to see what he'll come up with next.
On Christmas morning, Dayden had plowed through an enormous number of gifts and was eager for more. When my mother handed him a flattish, rectangular package, his eyes lit up: you could practically see the little wheels turning in his mind: "I bet Nanny was able to squeeze four video games into this box!"
Me, I looked at the package and thought, "Oh, how nice. A new shirt!"
As it turned out, neither one of us was right. The package contained a pair of pants, a really cute all-boy pair made out of that parachute-y fabric with all kinds of zippers and pockets. They looked like they could carry to cargo from an aircraft carrier; you know the type. The pants were even cleverly designed to become shorts in more clement weather, due to the judicious placement of zippers that went around the knees. In a dark navy blue, I thought they were nice pants.
Dayden, not so much. He lifted the pants out of the box with the air of a person who has just been told that this is what he'll be wearing on the one-way trip he's getting ready to take to Tyburn. His face crinkled up and his lower lip came out; he hunched his shoulders and crossed his arms on his chest, fiercely glaring at the floor in front of him. The rejected pants sat next to him in their box, apologetically trying to hide themselves in their tissue paper.
My brother, Pat, took one look at his surly offspring -- here's what made me laugh -- and his face crinkled up, his shoulders hunched and he glared fiercely at my nephew, turning them into identical twins, separated by thirty-two years. I'd always been aware that Dayden looks like my handsome brother (my older nephew, Kieren, and niece, Kiersi, both resemble their beautiful mom), but it had never been quite as plain to me as it was right then.
"Tell Nanny and Poppy thank you for the pants," Pat hissed.
My nephew continued to sit, hunching his shoulders farther up around his ears, looking like he was seconds away from sticking his fingers in his ears and chanting I-can't-hear-you-I-can't-hear-you. And yes, he has done that before.
"Dayden --" my brother said threateningly.
"Thankyouforthepants," Dayden said sullenly to his shoes. Very insincerely, I might add. You could tell that he was not only not thankful for the pants, but also that he was about three seconds from performing some sort of Incredible Hulk move on them and ripping them to shreds. With his teeth. Because, pants? Everyone knows that pants are a sucky and wrong Christmas present. Toys, now. Toys are a good Christmas present. The only acceptable Christmas present, as it happens.
Why are things like this always so awful if it's your kid, but so funny and somehow endearing when the kid is somebody else's? Maybe because I can clearly remember feeling the same way about getting clothes for Christmas. Stupid, stupid clothes!
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