When my extended family visits the lake every year, everyone wants to hang out together – in part because we only see each other one week a year, and in part because we’re awesome (duh). Understandably, Ella and Annie never want to miss out on the action, and we try to include them as often as possible… But there are times when those of us over the age of 18 would like to do our own thing, where maybe we can eat meal without having to watch our language or have anyone physically adhered to the entire left side of your body while informing you that she’s changed her mind, she doesn’t like rice anymore.
Sometimes – especially when their next door best buddies are around – the girls don’t mind not being included in the grown-up fun. Other times, however, they put up a bit of a fuss. Yesterday was one of those days. It was lovely out, a perfect summer morning, and my cousins informed me that they’d like to have lunch at a restaurant that we get to by boat.
Not many complaints with this as your morning view.
The girls think that taking the boat to a restaurant is the coolest thing ever (probably because it is), and I knew that they’d be bummed to be left behind. As I explained to them that they’d be staying at the house, I played my first card: the baby. See, one of my cousins and his wife have recently had a baby boy, and when I suggested to Annie and Ella that perhaps they could “help” their great aunt, Marti (who is my aunt and also the baby’s grandma) watch their itty bitty second cousin, their faces lit up. I could tell that a bit of disappointment still lingered, however, and I wasn’t sure how to erase it.
And then it dawned on me: a junk meal contest.
Last month, when my other aunt visited the lake, she had spirited the girls away one morning and given them an “Auntie Breakfast”: leftover cake, cookies, and Diet Coke (something they are normally allowed to have, like, never). Despite the fact that their sugar high still hasn’t entirely worn off, I told the girls that perhaps they could challenge Great Aunt Marti to see if she could create a lunch that would top Great Aunt Lisa’s breakfast.
They raced toward Marti, so excited they could scarcely get the words out. “Aunt Lisa…breakfast…cookies… Mommy said…it’s a challenge…. can you… lunch…” Marti listened, looking slightly like she’d been physically attacked, and then gave them a look of supreme smugness as she said, “Girls. You are looking at the sugar queen!”
I briefly questioned the wisdom of allowing them to consume something that would be even junkier than cake, cookies, and Diet Coke, but then decided that a) two meals out of an otherwise healthy lifetime will barely even register, and b) it’s worth it to enjoy a lakeside lunch with my cousins and have neither child pinching her sister, playing with the gum under the table, or complaining that these chicken tenders are the wrong shape.
When we arrived home, Ella and Annie were literally jumping up and down with excitement (and sugar) to tell me what they’d eaten for “lunch”: chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon bears, ice cream, Diet Coke, and loads of chips with Heluva Good dip. This exceeded even my highest expectations, and Marti was declared the unanimous winner (which is slightly terrifying because it means that Lisa will undoubtedly feel the need to reclaim the title next summer).
After a relatively relaxing afternoon, the girls came down from their sugar rush, fell asleep quickly, and actually slept in later this morning than they have in quite a while. When they learned that Nick and I would be working at the PGA today, they were initially bummed that they would, again, be left behind… Until they discovered that they’d be with
Great Aunt Marti all day long.
Suddenly, they seemed very eager to get us out the door.
I can’t imagine why.