Aunt L.

My Aunt L. is a trip.

Seriously.

She’s fun, she’s unpredictable, but most importantly, she’s an artist. When I was growing up, she was the person I was closest to out of all my extended family. She took me to art shows, made us breath-taking pottery for Christmas gifts and generally instilled in me some of that wild non-conformity I am sure would give my grandfather an aneurism. He would always say that Aunt L. marched to her own beat, and as I grew older, he started to say the same about me…talk about a high complement. As a kid, I was fascinated by her art studio and the magical wonders that seemed to come out of it. She was that unique rebel of the family who you knew would be the first to get behind whatever crazy idea you had, because she would rather you try and fail than let the idea pass you by.

One of the greatest benefits of leaving the country for city life is that we are far closer to many of our friends and family, including Aunt L. I don’t think I realized how much I missed her until I was able to have her back in my life with satisfying regularity.

My boys are fortunate in that our new location means that they get to spend a lot of time with Aunt L., and she always has something in her pocket to tantalize their creativity. Lately, she carries around a small bag full of random glass fragments and beads. All the pieces are polished and smooth, and their diverse colors, textures and shapes beg to be explored by the boys’ curious little hands. She loves to give them creative challenges by announcing an idea, then asking each of the heathens to create the idea using her mixed bag of glass pieces and shapes.

Which, much to my surprise, they do so with patience and care.

I am almost startled at how intensely they will sit and focus on one of Aunt L.’s activities. They even take turns with some modicum of patience, compared to the usual free-for-all that reigns over their playtime.

Ok, so pumping them full of Icee’s doesn’t hurt either. Just ask this clown:

Icee’s or not, watching the boys with Aunt L. reminds me of all the wonderful reasons why it takes a village (or an eclectic extended family) to raise a well-rounded child. It’s easy to forget all the people who make up the pieces of me, so it’s also a secret joy when I get to see them again through the eyes of my children.

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