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I did what will be last spot of babysitting yesterday with my two nephews. It is probably the last time I will see them for a long time. It was a sunny afternoon we want to the park. We played Fly for about an hour. Fly is where you distribute your flip flops spaced every 20 cm or so and one foot at a time has to land between each consecutive pair of flip flops. When you jump past the last flip flop you can ask for a flip-flop to be given to you from the row and you place it where you landed. As the game continues the distance between the flip flops become larger and more chaotically spaced. With two small boys the fun is in keeping the rules fair. Handicapping the oldest and advantaging the youngest. Three steps for the youngest and two for the oldest boy and one step for me between each flip flop. Between the three of us the youngest is competing against the oldest boy and the oldest against me. To keep the game going required discovering the relevance of the rules again and changing for the next round. Equity and not equality the key to making a game like this work its magic through a lazy afternoon.

My brother has just arrived on the scene. I am sitting on the ground on a picnic blanket. I did a pretty pathetic job of cobbling together something healthy for them. The carrots, fruit and brown bread were quickly side-lined for the chips I brought for after lunch and a hot dog from the hot dog van; cruising the park for young excitable kids with weak willed guardians.

I see the boys Clancy and Max playing with their father with the daylight nearly dosed. Soon we will pack up and go inside for dinner. I see the love and chaos, the grab for attention. My brother winding the kids up and down like an expert, knowing when to stop before one of the kids defences is pushed over and can’t keep his temper, discouragement or a feeling of foolishness at bay. My brother seems to know how to keep the jumbling energy resolving and creating something positive, not stifling, keeping their lives expanding with all that is wonderful in this world. I see in these kids that moment of discovery, that realisation, that everything newly discovered is significant and to behold in wonder. It fills me with a sense of loss to know I once had this wonderment and now I am only moved by moments of intense horror the antithesis of wonderment plucked from news feeds of extreme brutality and callousness of my fellow man.

I see the connection between my brother and his kids and wonder if I will have a chance to discover the world a new, guiding and cajoling the overly eager and the unwilling to discover their place in the world. My brother has the knack of being able to see what they see for the first time anew. Helping describe the discovery of his kids and not labelling it. The autumn leaves are different colours has a logical progression if you remember their summer green and crinkled aging and the storm last night that blew a deep blanket of them on the ground and now soaked deep in the mud, ready to give new life in the spring. Each event connected explains the blanket of leaves that we kicked around and rolled in just a month or two ago, and now part of a thin layer of dirt on our knees, the connections are learnt and taught and reflected upon. When we were small a calm parent explained twenty or thirty times the connected events as adults we take for granted. I thirst to understand the mechanisms and basis for a new concept or discovery seems to have faded in me. Left I have a utilitarian pragmatism that selects the apparently useful artefacts of this world to use for to engage in the next moment of life, like knowing when to use an old phrase but no longer its original meaning and connection to a forgotten time.

I see them coming back to the blanket so it is time to walk back and have some dinner. I feel honestly lost seeing what life could be in front of me, something that as a child I had. That the love is forgotten in some way in me, that deep bond I see has been resurrected in my brother. Parents lost long ago make it hard to supply reference points, nudges to how I was and what I was at that age. Those moments of introspection I only see now in glimpses when I am with my brother and his family.

That was my goodbye, I don’t know when I will see these guys again or their father and mother. I feel a raw open wound that I have created and will continually scratch; that is the loss of belonging and being wanted and needed unconditionally. I love being an uncle in other words and am now giving this up for an idealism not fully formed in my own head. Possibly one of the basest reasons motivating humanity where the cost is one of the many forms of love; especially suspect if I am still unable to fully understand the ideals.

They have made it finally back to the picnic blanket and I will stop writing.

2 thoughts on “Wake

  1. TRibalMind says:

    Thanks for sharing your afternoon with your nephews.

  2. CoolAid says:

    A really nice piece and captures that sense of leaving family behind. I had the same kind of feeling leaving home a few years ago.

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