Just as I was getting ready to go out on Saturday night, my phone rang. It was the 4 year old niece and 6 year old nephew ringing. They were calling to let me know they had finally decided what to buy with a gift card I had given them for Christmas. (I had run out of time and inspiration, especially when added to the need to post everything.)
When I answered the phone, a boy's voice said, "It's your nephew speaking."
The formality was endearing.
A second after I said hello, Mr Nephew launched into a detailed description of Ninjas. They were in book form, they were in Lego form. He had read the book. He had built the Lego. However, it was noted very specifically that the Ninjas in video form had flaming swords. Mr Nephew was very firm on the point that the Lego Ninja's sword was only yellow in colour and that there was no fire involved.
I said I was very pleased to hear he had been able to choose something he liked with the money I had given.
"Yes," he said. "It cost around $100, but not quite."
I choked on my drink. I had given him $25. I heard my sister in the background say that it hadn't cost that much at all.
Mr Nephew corrected himself and said it cost less than $100. I predict a big future as a used car salesman or negotiator.
Suddenly I was speaking to my niece. (The same one I wrote about here.) She rattled something off about what she had bought. I thought Peppa Pig was mentioned, but it was impossible to tell. She was in a very chatty mood and her consonants had fallen by the wayside. (While checking how to spell Peppa Pig, I discovered that Peppa Pig has her (?) own website!)
When I could get a word in, I asked how she had been spending her day.
There was a big sigh.
"Working." The voice was world weary.
"Working? Where have you been working?"
Again, the world-weary tone: "Around the house."
I pictured child slavery along the lines of Oliver Twist. What had she been doing? Cleaning the oven?
"What about tomorrow then? What are you doing tomorrow?" I asked.
"I'm going to a party." This statement was again accompanied by a very put-upon-sigh and sounded like the word "party" had changed meaning to refer to hard labour building a railway in the desert.
Upon enquiring about who was hosting this joyous occasion, my niece advised it was Emily. I could hear her eyes rolling as she told me.
"Do you like Emily?" I asked.
"She hides and then after she's been hiding she treads on my toes. She's always hiding. I'm giving her a packet of jewellery and I'm getting a packet as well," she declared.
Ah the days of innocence - when jewellery came in packets!
Upon further enquiry I discovered that Emily and my niece are in fact best friends!
After this encounter, I was talking to a friend and her youngest son started to talk in the background. My friend explained to whom she was speaking and asked her son if he would like to say hello. Soon I heard "hello". I responded with "hello" and then there was deathly silence. After a little while, I said, "Bye bye!". He echoed me happily and handed the phone back to his mother.
I do love these conversations. Sometimes the hardest thing is not to burst out laughing. These children have the best element of the comic "straight man" - they're naive about the fact that they're hilarious.