I don’t think I’m telling tales out of school to say that my 11 year-old nephew, Brodie, has not exactly had the most conventionally normal, happy, suburban, two-car garage, shiny Schwinn on the front lawn upbringing.
He’s never known his father. And his mother is currently sowing some wild oats (again) 2279 miles away from him, which I can’t get into with much more detail without getting really upset or really angry or writing something that will make her never talk to me again. I love her, but this is why I have big freaking problems with 16 year-olds having babies, and that’s all I’ll say about that.
Fortunately Brodie’s also got about the most loving, committed extended family in the entire universe as we know it, so he’s not only got a stable home right now, he has a wonderful uncle of the menfolk persuasion for that day in the very near future that he realizes he’s got some weird hair growing under his arms.
Occasionally he also gets the Mom-101 Reverse Fresh Air Fund Treatment, by which we pluck a kid out of his very own big room in the suburbs for a summer, and force him to sleep on an air mattress on the floor of our Brooklyn apartment with the dog hair and the dust bunnies.
So when Hershey’s invited me to Washington DC overnight for a blogger event to kick off the new Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian movie sweepstakes – and said that I could bring Brodie – I was like hell to the yeah. Let’s say the keywords here were Airplane Ride, Air & Space Museum, Midnight Movie, Other Kids, and Free Chocolate.
(Not that I wouldn’t love a special mommy-Thalia trip, but if a movie’s not animated, it had better have a friendly talking spider in it that sounds just like Julia Roberts.)
Once again, I am proud to say that I was able to return the nephew to his rightful owners without breaking him. In fact, I’m fairly certain he enjoyed himself.
And I did too. A lot. Not just because of holycowtheBESTsm’oresEVER so take that you inept Girl Scout leaders. (Ingredients: Graham crackers, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, marshmallows, cooking torch, low level PR associate forced to assemble them at 11:30 PM.) I learned a bunch about air and space and paper airplanes, and how great the movie crew was, and the fact that you actually have to exercise to get arms like Colleen, and on top of that I got to know a lot about the care and feeding and very strange inner workings of 11 year-old boys.
Lesson learned: If the nephew’s shoe breaks, and the only store open on a Sunday morning only has one pair of shoes that kind of fit and they happen to have bottle openers built into the soles, just tell him they’re um…hooks. For um, hanging the shoes. Somewhere. With a hook.
Lesson learned: The idea of making pen pals is still cool even if no one knows what this crazy “pen” thing is, of which we speak.
Lesson learned: Fake acrylic nails for little girls – oh I think I may just vomit up those 40 boxes of Whoppers right now. (This is not about 11 year old boys, I know, except for the fact that they might make me wish I had one in about 8 years.)
Oh and Hershey’s? “Looking into” high fructose corn syrup alternatives for Hershey’s syrup. I’ll buy that.
Oh, and if you win the sweepstakes? You get to spend a whole night sleeping in the Air & Space Museum.
Yes, with the monkey.