My mother is one of five kids in a military family, so they had a LOT of great stories about growing up. But my favorite were always stories about Aunt Patty.
You guys know Aunt Patty because she makes THE BEST BROCCOLI SALAD KNOWN TO MAN, but there is so much more to her. Mostly, this: she is the sweetest, most kind soul that has ever walked the earth. She speaks in a melodic tone which makes her a hit with children, and she smiles all the time.
These things make it incredibly easy for her to be DEVIOUS.
First, before we go further into the story, Aunt Patty sent Tony this book a month or so ago and I wanted to share it all with you. She swore by it, and Bryan laughed and said that all this hippie nonsense was going to get Tony beaten up. WHICH MEANS I WAS A FAN OF PROVING HIM WRONG.
It’s called Have You Filled a Bucket Today?
It basically helps kids visualize the concept of kindness. “Filling someone’s bucket” can be done by a smile, a good deed, or a kind word. Although I didn’t find it particularly enthralling, Tony loved it. We read it nightly, and pretty much eighteen times a day, he’d do something really sweet and say, “Yep, I’m a bucket filler. How full is your bucket now?”
He took it to school for Friday show-and-tell, and when I picked him up that afternoon, his teacher stopped me dead in my tracks. “I LOVE THAT BOOK,” she gushed. I noted that all the kids – twenty four and five year olds – were diligently heads down and coloring. What are you guys drawing? I asked.
“We’re making thank-you cards for our teacher!” they shouted.
“They wanted to do this for me,” she said, with tears in her eyes.
“We want to fill her bucket!” they shouted.
And not a day has gone by that some kid in that class has come up to me to talk about their bucket. Seriously, I am gobsmacked at how this resonates with young children. I’ve since bought a book for the teacher (she’s been on vacation and I’M DYING TO GIVE IT TO HER!), and I think probably every Pre-K classroom should have it. It’s pretty great.
BACK TO AUNT PATTY’S DEVIOUSNESS.
Aunt Patty was passing through on her way to family further south, and she stopped in to spend the night at Mom & Dad’s house. She had asked, before she left her house, to eat dinner at a specific restaurant that night with the whole gang. Mom, obviously, agreed. But made it clear that Mom would be paying.
The gauntlet had been thrown.
Aunt Patty INSISTED she pay. Mom said, “NO, IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS WILL YOU BE PAYING.”
Aunt Patty sweetly said, “Okay.”
When all nine of us gathered at the german restaurant that night, Aunt Patty darted inside and hugged some man that we couldn’t see very well. “That’s my friend William!” she exclaimed, when she finally joined us at our table. “We went to school together, years ago! I can’t believe he’s here!”
Mom looked puzzled. “I don’t remember a William.. what was his last name?”
Aunt Patty tilted her head, “You know, I don’t remember. He came in midyear, so I don’t even think he was in the annual! But it turns out, he’s the manager here! Isn’t it a small world?”
We all agreed that was really cool! It is a small world. What a bustling melting pot Huntsville is.
We had a fantastic dinner, and I kept smiling at one of the managers because I had worked with him at a Ruby Tuesdays YEARS ago. He was my age, but he was pretty smart, and I was glad to see him doing so well. Couldn’t remember his name, though.
After we finished up our desserts, a couple of hours later, Daddy asked for the check. The waitress smiled and said it had been taken care of. “William treated us!” Aunt Patty exclaimed.
“Wow, really?” we all asked. “That was really kind of him!”
“Yeah, send William over so we can thank him,” I told the waitress.
“NO, DON’T,” said Aunt Patty. “He’s.. probably busy.”
We all looked at her.
“OKAY, fine,” she admitted. “It was ME. I wanted to pay, so while I was driving, I called and asked to speak to the manager. His name was William, and I explained that I was going to pay for our party, but I couldn’t get up and go to the bathroom or anything because then y’all would know what was I up to. So I got him to play along that we were old high school friends and then I went and hugged him so y’all wouldn’t suspect anything and then the waitress slipped the check to me under a napkin and..”
OHMYGOSH, we all said. YOU ARE CRAZY.
Then I remembered that guy’s name that I worked with. Will.
You see Aunt Patty in the upper left hand corner there, mysteriously growing out of my father’s head.
She is crazy devious. You have to admit her skills are impressive.