Alison Culligan would be the first to tell you that she’s a big believer in the old adage, “You birth ’em, you raise ’em.” And if you were to tell her that really isn’t an adage so much as her way of letting people know she has no desire to babysit their children, she’d be the first to agree.
Alison dislikes children the way other people dislike the thought of being in a head-on collision. At least with a head-on collision, Alison reasons, you can collect the insurance money and get yourself a new car – if you live. Once you have children, however, you’re stuck with them forever – unless you’re lucky enough to die young; say, in another head-on collision, for example.
There are zero exceptions to Alison’s No Children Are Allowed In My House rule; other than her older sister’s two kids, and she only allows them in because Veronica, who has no money to pay a real babysitter, has threatened to tell her and Alison’s mother the truth about how the fire in the bedroom they shared as teenagers started many years ago.
“You know what Mom always says…’I don’t care if I find out five years or fifty years from now. I will find out eventually, and when I do I will wail your ass!’ Do you really want Mom to know it was because you were smoking pot and that you didn’t just leave a hot curling iron on your bed?”
“I hate you,” Alison says to her sister every time she hangs that over her head, even though what she really hates is the thought of her sixty-five year old mother wailing her ass like she used to when she was a kid, because Alison’s mother could totally do it no problem, even with her arthritis.
“I’ll pick them up at seven,” Veronica says to her sister after letting seven-year-old Gavin and five-year-old Gabriella track their muddy boots through Alison’s front hallway. “No scary movies and no sweets until they eat their dinner.”
“Can I at least dangle them by their feet from the roof?” Alison asks.
“Ha, ha,” Veronica fake laughs.
“So you’re cool with that then, awesome!”
Veronica’s stern look tells Alison she’s not cool with that, to which Alison responds with a fake laugh of her own as her sister heads out the door.
“Alright, you little miscreants,” Alison says to Gavin and Gabriella who are still both too young to know what that word means. “Who wants to make some money?”
“I do! I do!” they both shout.
“Great! I’ll give a dollar to whomever cleans my bathroom and fifty cents to whomever sweeps my floors.”
“You want us to do housework?” Gavin says. “Yuck.”
“Yeah, yuck,” Gabrielle says.
“It’s either that or I make you take a nap for the next four hours. At least this way, you can make some money,” Alison tells them.
“What if we tell our Mom what a meanie you are?” Gavin threatens her.
“And what if I tell her I caught you stealing money from her purse?” Alison counter-threatens her nephew.
“I didn’t steal money from her purse!” Gavin says.
“She doesn’t know that. Now what’s it going to be, kid? The bathroom or the floors?”
“The bathroom, I guess,” Gavin acquiesces.
“That a boy,” Alison says while handing him rubber gloves and a sponge.
“You’re awful, Aunt Alison,” Gavin says.
“Yeah, you’re awful,” Gabriella agrees.
“Not as awful as the mold in my shower. Now hop to it,” she says.
Alison watches them trudge off to do their chores, and as she does she thinks for a moment that maybe she now gets why people have children.
“Wow, talk about cheap labour,” she says to herself.
Just then she hears the drinking glass in her bathroom shatter and her nephew cry out.
“Gabriel! Are you alright?” she shouts as she races up the stairs.
“Yes. Don’t worry. I didn’t cut myself,” he replies, surprised that his awful aunt has shown concern for him.
“Good,” Alison says genuinely relieved. “I do not need blood stains all over my bathroom. I’ll be deducting the cost of a new glass from your pay, of course.”
Of course, because Alison Culligan truly is an awful aunt.