Sunday, March 13, 2011
Harry: My Nephew, My Nemesis
My 7 year old nephew Harry and I bring out the worst in each other. We are both so naturally prone to being complete smart-arses that it’s like we view each other as the ultimate competition (I know this is a worse reflection on me, a 25 year old, than the kid who is in primary school, but somehow that doesn’t embarrass me). Without failure we seem go out of our way to stir each other up – we bicker like siblings, and a passer-by might easily assume I was simply his incredibly immature older sister.
They’d be wrong of course, we fulfill a very different, but utterly important role for each other – I am his familial nemesis, and he is mine.
Though there are occasional cease-fires (mostly when one of us isn’t in the country) they never last long. A classic example of hostilities came just this Friday when I went to pick him up from after school care for his exhausted mother Mrs Woog. I explained to the supervisor who was eyeing me with suspicion that I was Harry’s aunt. The supervisor’s suspicion could not be relieved however as he replied:
“We’ll have to see if he recognizes you, if not we’ll need to call someone.”
Who that someone was I don’t know, but as I was talking to a man who made officious and excessive use of a walkie-talkie to call for Harry to be sent to the hall I decided not to ask. Finally, after 5 minutes Harry ambled up to the two of us…
Supervisor: Harry, do you know this woman?
Harry gives me a look of evil contemplation. Finally he smirks and replies…
Now, fortunately Harry’s class clown reputation preceded him and I managed to get the Supervisor to see reason. Harry then complained about my choice of parking position, and pointed out I must be a baby for liking kid toys like the ball in the back seat of my car. I responded, falsely, by saying the ball was going to be a gift for him but as he clearly didn’t like it I would just keep it for myself. I then spent rest of the car trip taking every red light as an opportunity to pivot in my seat and belt out Roxette tunes into his face, much to his squirming dismay.
Harry, who I have previously called Barry in this blog*, is in many ways like the singer I fictitiously named him after – Barry Manilow – both addictive and irritating in equal measure. He is freakishly intelligent, has a tan I could only dream of and gets a mohawk haircut to celebrate the beginning of every school holiday. He insists on calling his pets things like XO and Fuifui Moimoi, is famed for being magnetically drawn to improbably attractive women (thus, never me) and often displays the sage wisdom of a middle-aged man trapped in a child’s body/a hilariously unfortunate ability to repeat everything he hears (he once told a Liberal MP that John Howard was a dickhead).
Just the other day when I was babysitting him and his brother Jack, I commented that there was a nice cool wind blowing through the house. He pursed his lips and nodded like a wizened Yoda before responding with a knowing look “The winds of peace”. I have absolutely no idea where he heard that one.
I once drove him out to spend the evening with Mother Painefull, and the pair of us infamously spent the hour-long trip telling each other how the monsters each of us owned would crush and eat the other. I have no idea how I got sucked into the conversation, but it occurred when he was around 4 or 5. Once again, not a great reflection on me.
Despite the fact that Harry has the uncanny ability to make me act like some threatened only child, I just can’t get enough. Even better, there’s something quietly exciting about knowing I get to see him grow up – I can guarantee that along the way he is going to be hysterically funny, never boring and more than a little bit awesome. We’ll probably still be fighting… but that’s my job. I’m his nemesis after all – every future superhero needs one.
* = Mrs Woog was mortified to think people might actually believe she had called her son ‘Barry’ and insisted I draw back the veil on my full-proof code-naming system. With that in mind, I imagined she would have a similar aversion to me re-titling her younger son Jack as ‘Mack’, so in a world first (for this blog) this is a posting which actually features some accurate names.