The Hunter

AJ and Hunter

As a wise woman once told me, at least, my employees love me.  Not many bosses can say that. 

We have ended a stint with a nephew, Hunter, staying with us for almost 3 weeks.  He is 12 years old, sometimes acts 25, sometimes 5.  I was advised by my sister when he was dropped off to me that he is an entertainer but not a babysitter.  That is entirely true.  It’s not that he couldn’t handle the responsibility of babysitting; he’s just so good at keeping my boys busy, particularly as I write this.  AJ (3 yrs old) is chasing Hunter( nephew, 12) and shouting over and over, laced with laughter “a kitty, a kitty…” while Andy (1yo) is chasing them both with cars (and the unique Andy/baby shuffle) in tow as his cheeks bounce to the rap of his fluttering tongue. 

So, Hunter’s back home after as we meet our cousins, his parents and brother at Great Wolf Lodge near Charlotte, NC.  Review is pending.  You’ll buy the whole seat, but you’ll only need the edge!

Hunter has been nothing short of great staying with us.  There are many differences between us aside from 24 years.  He is the older of 2 and I am the youngest of 3. However, the main point I’d like to share is the fact that he’s living in the same house and bedroom as I did growing up other than that, I don’t want to insult the kid by comparing to his self-proclaimed cool uncle. 

The time has really flown by and my boys will be devastated when he’s gone.  Now I know that I have made a lot of TV references in my writing, but with Hunter, who feels he should be able to assign his own bedtime as he is on vacation, TV is his life.  A few years ago living in Florida, we had Hunter over for a day and I set up movies for him to watch and had him play Playstation, he seemed to feel guilty knowing that his parents would not approve if he wasn’t doing anything constructive then. 

Now it’s a very different story.  He wants to watch TV all day and play with my boys incrementally, between meals, naps and AJ’s timeouts.  What he chooses to watch is mostly cartoons and movies.  Hunter was able to choose from my library of movies and for the first 3 days he watched the original Star Wars Trilogy while AJ and Andy napped.  At night if we had the TV on, he was allowed to watch what he wanted for the most part. After the first 3 movies, he did not want to go through with the later 3 and wanted to watch Spaceballs instead.  Awesome.  I tried to tape things for him (for you kids out there, that means record, TiVO’d or DVR’d…or to some “done got”).  However, this is what was very interesting to me.  He did not want to fast forward through commercials.  Baffling.

That is where I drew the line, I could allow him to watch what he wanted but if I was in the room and able to skip the commercials I was going to do so.  I asked him what he liked about the commercials and he started to name off jingles from Aflack and State Farm commercials.  He had done so before but I hadn’t realized what he was singing.  He said he likes Progressive commercials because they are funny.  I disagree.  It sounds to me like even though people like me are going to avoid commercials if at all possible, then our kids are going to watch them and repeat what they heard and the advertising will fall on our ears anyway. 

It was remarkable to me that Hunter named off 3 insurance companies in our discussion and I came to realize I had seen these commercials before and the advertising was reinforced by this 12 year old boy.  So naturally, I went and bought a policy from each company no volcano, tidal wave, tsunami or act of terrorism would interrupt my life.  Kidding.  I have always disliked the idea of ads flashing at me.  But now it comes through a new medium, our kids.  There’s no escaping it.  My wife and I try to avoid McDonald’s as they market specifically to kids their terrible food.  I’ve picked up my son from preschool before and he’s told me he wanted to go there even though he’s never been, he’s picked that up from his classmates. 

As he learns to read, he will want to read everything he sees.   How do I explain the highway billboards that say “Adult Toys next exit” or bumper stickers that say “Have a Nice F@#’n Day?” How does one go about choosing something like that? Daddy, what are adult toys? “Hhmmm I don’t know, but here’s some m&ms.”  Crisis averted.

Anyway, back to Hunter.  We assumed he would be pretty self-reliant, so he had the entire upstairs to himself, his own bedroom, bathroom and even a TV to watch.  I told him that he could escape from my kids up there if he needed to get away.  I figured that was a nice perk.  He did not need that very often as he loves to play, he has a great imagination and is not too cool to play with preschool boys or their toys. 

“I’m bored.” While he was with us, we did whatever possible to avoid these 2 words.  With record heat outside, we couldn’t always go to a park or play in the back yard.  Plus, we found that Greenville is seriously lacking in stuff for the kids to do to escape boredom. 

So, now at 12 years old, Hunter is about to leave, as I stated, we thought he was self-reliant, but I was just not vigilant enough.  I thought he would have known to shower every day or at least every other day.  I did not tell him to brush his teeth.  I never told him to make his bed.  After the first 2 weeks, I asked him when he showered last, he said he didn’t know and that was the kicker, I found that while with us he showered a total of 3 times.  We did go to the pool a few times and had the redneck Riviera set up in the back yard with a slip ‘n’ slide and a blow up pool, so he did get wet and even had a protective sheen of chlorine a few times.  Not equivalent to soap and hot water, but it’s better than 1 shower per week.   Now I know for next time, a 12 year old boy should not be treated as a 21 year old roommate.  In 9 years, that knowledge might come in handy.  As far as Hunter goes, his Mom says, returning from vacation, to chores, bedtime and concerned parents will be a rude awakening. 

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