Today's been a day of discoveries of EPIC proportions. Firstly, I found out that my niblings think I'm a human-sized rodent in a human suit. Secondly, a little less than five minutes ago, I discovered that there's a collective, gender-neutral term for 'the children of one's siblings': yup, it's NIBLINGS! Told you, epic stuff. Here's how it all went down.
As some of you may know, my nephew and niece are spending the summer at my parents' house. I beached up on their doorstep a little before my niblings did, entitled brat that I am, to pursue my lifelong ambition of gainful unemployment and partaking-of-free-meals. And the little business of writing. So far, so good.
Now much as I love my niblings, I don't particularly care for children. This leaves me in a love-hate existential conundrum whenever I spend more than five minutes with them. The initial burst of affection for my flesh and blood (in a manner of speaking) quickly gives way to the more familiar loathing of our pint-sized brethren, and their disdain for Adult words.
To be fair, their presence does not in any way affect my lifestyle as I spend my days locked up in my room any way, my fingers a whirl of type-and-delete. I only ever step out and interact with the rest of the world at mealtimes, and that too only to load my plate and haul it back to the mothership.
Of course, every so often I hear them chattering outside my door and go out and play the benevolent uncle: a game of hide and seek, or maybe a drive to the pastry shop in town. But these occasions are utilitarian -they have a defined purpose- and therefore exert no conversational stress on any of the parties involved.
Little did I know that my niblings were quite taken by these spontaneous visits of mine to their world, and had asked Mom how best to coax me out more often. Neither did I know that they had taken her throwaway remark rather seriously, and decided to act on it.
So I open my door this afternoon, and find a big bowl of melted ice cream, a cherry and a chocolate wafer floating in the mess, and two pairs of eyes watching my every move from behind the couch. I walk past them, casual as a cucumber, push one end of the couch into the wall with a Bournesque flourish, and demand an explanation.
They crack like eggs. They sell the other down the river in their desperation for lenience but they're both guilty as sin, the jittery juveniles. They even try to take Mom down with them. As it turns out, she had told them- in jest no doubt- that their uncle would only ever be tempted out of his room by the promise of a good meal.
This little nugget of wisdom, coupled with their experience of setting mousetraps in the storeroom with my Dad last week, had somehow snowballed into the masterplan to leave a bowl of ice cream under my door to lure me out, like a common rodent. Presumably, they intended to pop a bucket over my head once I was suitably distracted.