The Brodie Chronicles: Smithsonian Edition

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.)

The cast and crew of own private Smithsonian lock-in: Melissa, Ali, Victoria, Renee, Linda, Audrey, Colleen, Stephanie. Missing from the photo: Creepy monkey.

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: It's more fun to make "bling rings" learned from this book and then lose them all over the museum than pay attention to the very nice aeronautics expert describing Lindberg's first flight.

Lesson learned: 11 year-olds loooove the corporate branding photo ops, unlike their cynical aunts.

Lesson learned: "The monkey" is the coolest part of the whole Air & Space Museum, the monkey being the actual (preserved) monkey (ack preserved monkey) that went into space (preserved monkey ew).

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.


Blogger Cid said...

Wow, you are the coolest aunt ever. I have a 16 year old niece who's mother has gone AWOL and the best I can do for her as I am already barely treading water with my 3 boys is to keep in touch via facebook and have her up for a weekend every once in a while, so she doesn't end up making me a great-aunt. But that doesn't make me a hero, it's just being family. Your nephew is very lucky to have such a wonderful one.

4/27/09, 10:02 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Cid, you're a cool aunt too. I'm lucky I have a terrific partner and mother who are willing to take my girls for the weekend while I hit the road.

Supportive family makes all the difference - we're all treading water to some degree.

4/27/09, 10:10 AM  
Blogger Your escalator operator said...

Thank goodness those shoes didn't also have the heel wheels built in. Wouldn't want an underage drinking (or hooking) and driving situation.
Sounds like a great trip!

4/27/09, 10:40 AM  
Blogger Meredith said...

I think you are an awesome aunt...but do you think it may be embarrassing for your nephew to realize that the entire internet now knows his personal private business in regard to his parents? I am sure you didn't mean anything by it, but he is old enough to have peers who may stumble upon your blog.

4/27/09, 10:57 AM  
Blogger Jenny Grace said...

I'm always grateful for all of the strong men who act like grownups in MY family, which I hope will compensate for my son's absentee father.

Your nephew is lucky to have such a solid extended family.

4/27/09, 11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with meredith on one thing...

In a few years, the photo of him wearing the slippers in the post before this one will be hysterically embarrassing, and I can't wait to show it to his friends in a couple of years...

If Brodie's friends find this post by internet search, I don't want to know what they were really looking for...


4/27/09, 12:01 PM  
Blogger Wicked Step Mom said...

I am glad you guys had fun! And it is also good to know that there are still people out there that will take time with their nieces and nephews when they truly need it.

4/27/09, 12:47 PM  
Blogger JHP said...

I'm the now 28-year old product of a 16-year old mother, and I can vouch for the importance (and blessing) of aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers and other responsible adults in the life of a kid with another "kid" for a parent. You're an awesome aunt--he probably has a blast spending time with you and your fam, and he'll appreciate it in an entirely new way when he is an adult himself.

4/27/09, 1:12 PM  
Blogger sugaredharpy said...

Looks like he had a great time!

So, don't assume all teen parents are terrible parents. Pretty please. My normal-aged parents were hella selfish and always off sowing wild oats...which is probably why I was 17 when I got pregnant. Not supervised and not paid attention to, teens often get pregnant for some reason. But you know, I haven't sown any oats at all. Some parents are great, some suck, most of us are in the middle trying the best we can...but that's because people come that way. (end soap box)

4/27/09, 2:57 PM  
Blogger caramama said...

Looks like you guys had a great time! The Air and Space Museum is awesome, and one of the many reasons I'm so glad to live a Metro ride away from downtown DC. I hope you had a great stay!

Next time, come down in football season with Nate. Surely you can get some tickets, and we can meet up at a Skins game!

4/27/09, 5:02 PM  
Blogger Kari said...

He looks like one very happy 11 year old boy, what a great trip. What an aweseome aunt.

4/27/09, 5:42 PM  
Anonymous Audrey - Mom Generations said...

Liz - You are truly a rock star aunt. I'm going to have to up my A-game with my nieces and nephews! Brodie was a doll... he and Alli's boys really hit it off, huh!? I'm so glad that we got to meet for "reals" and hang out a bit. You are so funny... and next time I'm in NYC - I'd love to meet up. Now... it's about 7PM... you know what time - and I'm skipping. You should trademark this diet. Hilarious and obviously works!! The NYC living dinner diet.

4/27/09, 6:52 PM  
Anonymous Suzette said...

I'm so impressed with your aunt skills! Wish my nephews and nieces were still little (youngest is 13, won't get caught hanging with auntie anytime soon!).

4/27/09, 7:20 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

You are a cool aunt and it was so nice to finally meet you in person although I have to say I feel like I know you already. I suppose I do know you and that for me is the beauty of blogging - making relationships, keeping track of family, I love it. And I am so very happy and blessed to be part of this community.

4/27/09, 8:53 PM  
Blogger Alli Worthington said...

i love that boy already.

so do his pen pals.


4/27/09, 10:13 PM  
Blogger Amelia Sprout said...

You are the coolest aunt. He can write all about you on his blog.

4/27/09, 10:55 PM  
Blogger Stephanie Manner Wagner said...

Hi Liz,

I really enjoyed meeting you and your nephew. I definitely think you are in the running for aunt of the year.

Hopefully we bump into each other again some time!

Sephanie of And twins make 5!

4/28/09, 8:08 AM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

I'm going to have nightmares about that poor monkey.

Sounds like a cool trip. And, yeah, my girls have asked for those nail tips. No way, no how. Unless my mom sees them.

4/28/09, 8:22 AM  
Anonymous Boston Mamas said...

Oh F*CK! I am going to do everything in my power to will Laurel into a 5 second state of temporary blindness if we ever pass a Disney princess acrylic nail display.

It's bad enough that we bought our first ever princess tee this weekend. J and I totally didn't want to but it was hard to say no to her $6.30 request when we were hauling out patio furniture. -Christine

4/29/09, 9:59 AM  

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