As has become an annual tradition, my nieces (now 10 and 13) spent a week with us this summer. I took them to the airport this morning, came home, crawled into bed, and didn't stir for over three hours. So, yeah, it was tiring, but definitely a check in the "success" column once again.
We did all the usual fun things -- swimming, a playdate with a friend of mine who has a 13-year-old daughter, a trip to one of Adventure City's museums (this year, the science museum, to honor Elder Niece's activity in the robotics club this year), and lots of movies (we always watch The Princess Bride and some Wallace & Gromit, and this year we also introduced them to Babe, since Younger Niece loves pigs). We've also got a lot of routines down pat now, which makes life easier in our not-set-up-for-children house.
Honestly, we could have Younger Niece staying with us for weeks and would be happy with it. The exhaustion comes, as always, from Elder Niece. She seems to have some social compulsions and problems -- constant singing/humming, constant fidgeting, an inability or unwillingness to express interest in anything, etc. -- that makes it difficult to spend quality relaxed time around her. She really only seems content when she's eating carbs while watching her latest TV obsession on her iPad with headphones; her preference would be to watch for hours, but she doesn't really seem to retain anything of what she watches. Her current obsession is 6teen, an animated series about teenagers who have jobs in a shopping mall. At one point, D. suggested that the two of them watch an episode together on the TV so that EN could tell D. all about it; they did watch it together, but EN wouldn't respond to any of D's conversational gambits: "What's that character like?" "Do you want a job in a mall when you're sixteen?" "Who's your favorite character?" All EN ever says is "I don't know." Exhausting. And she's been this way for years, so it's not just teenagerhood.
YN, on the other hand, has a million interests, is really creative, and is eager to join in the life of the family, helping to cook dinner and do laundry and the rest. So much easier. I try very hard not to compare the girls, but it's difficult not to when the difference is so stark. At least EN has the advantage of being really pretty, which I think smooths the way for her socially when otherwise she might be ostracized for being weird.
Ah well. We have done our aunty duty, we have furthered our relationship with both girls, and now we can relax into the rest of summer.Also, since I spent the week before their arrival doing some much-needed cleaning and decluttering, our house is actually cleaner after having two children stay with us for a week than it was beforehand! My goal for tomorrow is to clean away the minor detritus from their stay (mostly things like their fold-out beds and the like), and then we'll have a (relatively) decluttered house for the rest of summer!
Other goals for the week include getting back into my exercise routine, which went all to hell while they were here, and doing some reading for my new AP Lit course, since I'm off in a week to an AP Summer Institute (a.k.a. English Geek Camp). Good to have a week of unstructured time after a week of temporary-mommy duty!