My sister was out of town for a week, and Pony and I agreed to look after my nieces, Alyssa and Emily.  Alyssa is nearly 13 years old. She is a slender, slightly shy kid, who enjoys gymnastics and likes to read and do Sims on her kindle. Emily is 6 years old, loud and constantly kinetic, from the moment she wakes (cruelly early on weekend mornings) till she finally conks out at the end of the day. 

Living in Colorado, while my sister has been living in Maryland, I have not had a chance to do much hanging out with my nieces.  So while even my sister was somewhat surprised that I would offer to not only take Alyssa to her gymnastics class, but to stay and watch her work her routines and exercises, it is as much as anything catching up of years of not seeing these kids grow up.  I have no kids of my own, although I am both “official” and “unofficial” uncle to various kids, by virtue of siblings and friends.  Over the last dozen years or so, I have started to wonder if one of the reasons I can so genuinely enjoy the time I spend with kids is not only because I have none of my own, but the implicit advantage that, after spending time with this or that kid, I have the luxury of giving them back to their parents. 

That arrangement has been tested just a bit over the last week or so, while watching my nieces.  I am more of a morning person than Pony, so most mornings, I took on the task of driving them to school (although I have to give Pony full cred for taking the time on most of the mornings, last week, to see that the girls had a decent breakfast, and left for school decently clothed and with homework and such in hand). 

I was helping Emily with her homework at one point last week.  There was a story to read, with discussion questions that followed.  One of the discussion questions had to do with knowing the difference between “fact” and “opinion”.  This was a an interesting  and somewhat challenging task, but after working with Emily on these concepts, I am willing to do the same for someone like the folks at Fox News (although that may prove to be a far harder bunch to deal with). 

It looks like we may be hanging around a little longer than we originally planned.  We have heard from the insurance company of the guy who hit our tow car, and they have written the vehicle off as totalled and offered us a settlement.  We now have the challenge of finding a replacement vehicle, while seeing to the repair of the RV and getting the RV and a new tow vehicle outfitted with a new towing rig.  In the meantime, I am looking forward to getting to spend a bit more time with my nieces.  The road is going to take me away again soon enough, and there will be big chunks of their growing up that I will not get to see.  So I will take what I can get. 

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