The week before my oldest niece, CMR, started Kindergarten I took her out for "Special Aunt Clownface/CMR Day." I took her for her first mani/pedi (she had her nails painted blue with daisies painted on them), we went to lunch (Friendlys), then we went to a nearby state park and played chase (her idea), and wrapped up with a trip to the craft store where she picked a new craft kit that we did together.
She is now 8 and deep into the second grade and we haven't had another "Special Aunt Clownface/CMR Day" since. Until this week. When I pull her out of school on Friday. We set our agenda by phone today.
Step one: Have breakfast with Gammie (that's grandma to the rest of the world).
Step two: Go have our nails done (this went over VERY VERY big two years ago).
Step three: Go to Syracuse's Everson Museum of Art to see the Central New York Scholastic Art Fair Exhibit, which goes up on Friday.
Step four: Go out to lunch.
Step five: Make art together at Gammie's house or her cousin's house or her own house - if we feel so inspired.
I suggested the museum to CMR's mom by email, who then asked the wee one if she was interested (she apparently recently read a book about a little girl who goes to an art museum independent of this plan being hatched). When I told CMR I wanted to take her to the museum to see art made by teenagers from her town I could hear her eyes pop out of her head. She said to me "Do you mean someday I could have art hanging in a museum?" "Yes Little Bear, someday YOU could have art hanging in a museum. Let's go see what kind of art is good enough to hang in a museum!"
I feel like a great aunt because I get to help CMR have a unique experience that will open windows and doors to her imagination and stoke her aspirations.
I have six nieces and nephews. CMR is the first so she gets to have these types of experiences before anyone else in the passel of little people who are being raised by my sisters. I hope I can sustain this type of effort for each of them, so they can come to know how fantastic they are as individuals - and I can feel as if I've had a little role in helping them unfold themselves into this world.