Ethan loves my sister, his "Aunt Meh Meh." He's always been drawn to her and, loves her so much, that I don't think he can detect her sheer lack of interest in toddler companionship. At seventeen, she's dripping in more teenage apathy than I can stand and sometimes can't bother to lift her eyes from her computer screen to say a sincere hello to Ethan as he enters the room with a smile, waiting to see "Aunt Meh Meh." When we're driving and pass her school, he points to the window and giggles about all of the things he imagines Aunt Meh Meh is learning in her "tot school" today. And when we're at my mom's house and it's about time for her to burst through the doors after school, he is like a puppy waiting at the window for the first sight of her bounding up the driveway.
If a few days pass without him seeing her, he'll stop saying he wants to do much of anything other than go see Aunt Meh Meh. I'm always left with this odd task of juggling a two year old and a seventeen year old, neither of whom want to do the same things, and trying to orchestrate this bonding experience around homework, tutoring, dance class. We're usually left with Thursdays. Thursday afternoons. The only day on my sister's schedule that is wide open. Somehow it's become our Thursday ritual to grab ice cream at the local Carvel. Ice cream, of course, being the one thing I can get the two year old and the seventeen year old on board with.
Ethan knows on Thursday mornings he has My Gym and once our afternoon winds down he knows it's time to pick up Meh Meh and get ice cream. He never forgets. And, he likes to tell me on the way to pick her up, he might get the blue flavor or he might get whatever Meh Meh gets. Sometimes she acknowledges him on these ice cream dates, but he's too overjoyed to notice. He glows whenever he gets to spend time with Meh Meh. Sometimes I silently want to kick her under the table and ask her how she's not noticing the way he thinks the sun shines simply because of her, but it's not important. He smiles as he eats his ice cream. Sometimes she makes him sing a silly lyric from one of the songs she likes and laughs when he does, and he looks as if he's just won the lottery. Or, you know, whatever the toddler equivalent to the lottery is.