I was in New York for six days last week (more on why in my next post) and some of you may be wondering how my husband and kids fared in my absence.
My kids told me that they had a “great time with dad around” and that things were “really fun” which might be code for “we stayed up late every night playing Fortnight and NBA on the X-Box and ate more snacks in a day than you’d ever allow in an entire week”. From what I can see, they did just fine and all was in order when I got home. To be fair, a cleaner had been there the day before I landed so I’ll never know what mischief Nahtmee had been up to in my absence.
Were there snacks in the snack cupboard? No. Did they message me while I was away to complain about that? Also, no. So while they did not take on board the lesson from last time I was away which was: If There Are No Snacks, Ask Dad for Money and Walk to The Store to Buy Some, at least they understood that complaining to me about while I was thousands of miles away would not solve their problem. One small step forward for parent-kind.
Another slightly larger victory: while I was away my 10-year-old woke up one morning and found that there was no more milk. He walked himself to the store to buy a container. He saw a problem and solved it himself. #soproud.
My take away from all of this is that I should definitely go away by myself more often. And for longer periods of time.
As always, I stayed with my sister while in New York. She and her husband share an efficiently organized but small three-bedroom apartment with their 4 very lively kids ages 2-7, yet when I visit, they happily make space for me. It’s sweet and hilarious mayhem. Of course it’s hilarious for me because I’m just the aunt who brings them Kinder Surprise Eggs from London, gives them some hugs and kisses and then leaves.
Unless they have to leave the apartment, the kids wear nothing but underwear (or a diaper) and often are totally naked. Living in a New York City apartment often means an inability to control the heat levels and it is HOT in their place. Without fail, whenever I arrive and before I am fully through the front door, there are at least two partially or entirely nude kids barreling towards me yelling “Aunt Gila! You brought chocolate eggs?”. I can see the benefits of forgoing clothes: comfort, less laundry, less time wasted pulling pants up and down before using the bathroom (or, in many cases, the floor). Little kids are basically liquid; pee, drool, mucus, tears, spilled juice and the liquid-to-person ratio is at its absolute peak when all four of them are hanging out in the one communal living room.
I was sitting on my sister’s lovely wool couch (which she miraculously manages to keep clean) and the four-year-old stood next to me, completely naked and hunched over his iPad which was propped up on the seat cushion next to me. He’d look up at me every now and again and flash me a sweet, drooly smile. I stood up to get a drink and my bare foot stepped into something wet and warm.
“Judah!” I said to him in the sweetest voice I could muster while pointing at the pool that my foot was swimming in.
Judah looked up at me and giggled. And went straight back to his screen.
“Judah, why did you pee on the floor?” I asked him, not actually expecting an answer.
“I didn’t”, he said without looking up.
“Okaaaaaaay, well then who peed right here on the floor where you are standing?” I asked, now curious about what his reply would be.
He lifted his head to meet my gaze and through wet peals of laughter said, “Not me.”
My god. Nahtmee lives in New York, too.
But why should that surprise me? Nahtmee has generated a strong response from readers of this blog which is both validating and worrying because that means that there are a hell of a lot of little lying kids out there. Intrigued, I did a bit of research on Nahtmee’s origins and here are my findings. Please do not attempt to fact check. You will be disappointed.
Nahtmee is gender neutral but identifies as a ghost with zero regard for hygiene, tidiness or soaring electric bills. A penchant for emptying the contents of his/her nose onto household surfaces has earned him/her the occasional nickname Snot-mee. By the way, I just googled “gender neutral pronouns” so that I have options other than “he/she/him/her” and I now know that my choices are “Ze” and “Hir”. This is information we can all benefit from. You’re welcome. And I’m going with “Ze”.
Nahtmee hails from the fictional-sounding land of Nahtmee-a, where creatures are bred for the sole purpose of being assigned blame for the bad behavior of children everywhere. Natives of Nahtmee-a are not taught to stand up for themselves. They are just bottomless blame buckets. Once kids in a family are grown up, some Nahtmeeans return to their home land for a brief respite before being summoned by yet another child who thinks that their parents are dumb enough to believe that muddy footprints appeared in the hallway by supernatural means. For other, less fortunate ones, they get no break and all and are plunged straight into life with the children of their child-boss who has now grown into an adult. How awkward, to witness the child you took all the blame for over some twenty years become the parent who now doubts your existence and resents you more with each towel you leave on the bathroom floor.
So, while Nahtmee cannot be listed as a tax deduction and Ze doesn’t qualify for early boarding on airplanes like actual small children, Ze also doesn’t need to be fed or clothed, requires no help with homework and will never need braces. Bottom line, Nahtmeeans are more of an asset than a liability. Even when they melt chocolate chips onto the radiator and pee on the floor.