The other day I had the pleasure of minding my 7 year-old nephew because it was a teacher training day (why did this not happen during the standard holidays?).
My nephew "A" came up with some real gems that made me think: especially as he doesn't call me Maria, he calls me My-rear.
Like: 'Aunty My-rear, your food is better than my mums.'
Excellent. One point to me.
'Aunty My-rear, where is your husband?' A was getting ready for bed and pointed around the room as though to conjure my hitherto unseen husband from somewhere.
'I haven't got one.'
"A" bent over and laughed like a Cbeebies character: 'But you have ---- eh.' He pointed towards Jack. ---- you have 'im. So you are married.'
'I've never been married.'
"A" looked very confused: 'But My-rear how could you have him?' "A" began to tot up the process on his fingers as though counting stages. 'So you have a baby and then you get married?'
'Not exactly. Well people will tell you that's what happens but in truth about half of the population don't get married and then have a baby. Like your mum, she only got married to your dad last summer. And....'
Hm.... what would my sister think of what followed, you know with her being so Catholic an' all....
'Well marriage is an institution that was imposed many years ago,' I say nodding my head for effect. 'This was because back then women didn't have equal rights. And women needing to get married also had something to do with property, and how women needed marriage because they couldn't work and provide for their children.... but it's a bit different now because women can provide for their children without being married.'
'So you've never been married Aunty My-rear ?'
'But you were actually married in London.'
'No I wasn't.'
"A" found this quite hilarious. 'You were Aunty My-rear.'
Maybe he saw a man hanging around me and I didn't. Perhaps I just looked married or something because London aged me.
'Yes you were married in London.'
'Nope I wasn't.'
'She wasn't.' said Jack to a truculent "A". 'It's a difficult one to explain.'
The next day I was applying my make-up in the mirror: foundation, mascara, lipgloss... a rub of rouge --- and apparently also Polyfiller.
'Aunty My-rear,' "A" said as I whacked on more blusher under his watchful eye. 'You need a lot of repairing.'
Later, fully repaired, we visited a history museum. I tried to explain to "A" Darwin's theory of evolution and how, in some way, he evolved from a dinosaur.
'No I didn't,' he said, taking in an enormous dinosaur bone, and looking very annoyed with me.
'You did, and birds are quite like dinosaurs in that they have a similar bone structure, so you're also related to a bird. And you're also sort of like a fish.'
'Shhh,' said my sister. 'You can't tell him that.'
'Well he can't go into school saying that can he....'
'We're all supposed to have come from God aren't we -- so A can't go into school saying he came from a dinosaur.'
Sister Josephine began tut-tut-tutting and walking off.
I drooled over a glass case enraptured by my favourite section in the museum: the wonderful world of jewel beetles and dung beetles.
'Come here,' I called to Jack. 'These beetles are incredible, so beautiful, look at the colours. And the different sizes.'
'She's always like this about beetles,' said Jack. 'Don't respond to her. Run.'
'And look, here's a stick insect....'
Big Sister Runs From Little Sister in Museum Shocker