by Amy Martin
Hippiedom is superb training for being the crazy aunt. A good hippie embraces each day as a unique gift overflowing with creative potential and opportunities to connect and serve. We are the keepers of the carpe diem. My heart melts each time my grandnieces greet me at family gatherings with the expectation of “What is our adventure today?”
My play with this trio of bright souls aged four to 10 started with make believe, enacting characters and scenes from movies and plays they’d seen. The conflations were great. Minions from Despicable Me invaded Frozen scenes, with random ceramic bulldogs off the bookshelves joining with My Little Ponies to save the day. I am in awe of their creativity.
Our great girl science period began when I showed up with kinetic sand, the new generation of Play-Doh: sand with just enough plastic resin to stick together under pressure. With tools, molds and tints we could build just about anything. And make a glorious mess. Beach scenes and castles with moats quickly ramped up to contests for making the most elaborate cupcake ala The Great British Bakeoff.
But you have to keep up your cool quotient or risk losing the weird aunt title. So I introduced them to the glories of InstaMorph, plastic granules that soften in hot water to create gooey blobs. Through trial and error, we discovered how hot the water had to be to soften the InstaMorph and for how long. Much discussion of boogers arose at this point. We determined how to mix the tint pellets into the soft plastic.
Roles naturally arose among the sisters, each taking the task that best suited them. I found my niche among them and we transformed into an InstaMorphing machine. We stretched, twisted, and shaped the soft plastic into bracelets, bunnies, and magic rings. I stretched the InstaMorph to saran-wrap thinness and made a cast of my nose and a macabre ghost finger that I teased them with, assuring my weird aunt title for quite some time.
For Christmas, we went to Lone Star Circus, a local Cirque du Soliel outfit with clowns, acrobats, and jugglers, even professional hula hoopers and trained cats. Ideas were spinning out of their little blonde heads afterward. The family gathering at Easter this year will be very interesting.
Fortunate me, I am the one they’ll tell stories about to their friends when they’re older, the one who made their life a little more colorful, who showed them they could be forever young. To paraphrase Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., “Girls do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.”