For over twenty years I believed that the best thing about having siblings was the ready made in-jokes, the relentless banter and the automatic anti-parent tag team. Wrong, wrong and wrong again. The best thing about having a sibling is that it increases your chances of levelling up and claiming the title of Aunty. A title I wear with pride.
Quite frankly over the past few years there’s been far too much Aunty slander flying around the timeline. Aunty has become synonymous with cringe worthy behaviour, namely; chain Whatsapp messages giving out Coronavirus advice that can only be described politely as inaccurate, or rudely as straight up B.S. This is where we tend to get lost in translation, it’s like the word Aunty has transformed from noun to adjective. Much to our dismay, Aunty describes a lifestyle more so than a person. Sometimes this works in our favour for example, the boujee Aunty/rich Aunty trope never fails to help promote our image (see below Aunty Tracie Ellis-Ross, and our favourite newly inducted Aunty, Paula from Hillhouse Vintage). On the other hand you would not be blamed for feeling more than slightly alarmed if someone told you on a night out that you are dressed ‘like an Aunty’.ood friend of mine in fact has accused me of being ‘born an Aunty’… I think she intended this as an insult but I rebuke it (I’ve even got the Aunty lingo on lock)! In fact I agree with her. I even like to think I have Auntied friends over the years, from giving out unsolicited (not always helpful) advice to accidentally saying something embarrassing in front of their crush.
Do not be fooled being an Aunty is no mean feat. You’ve got to strike the balance just right. When it comes to my darling nieces and nephews I have a tendency to air on the side of ‘I’m not like a regular Aunty, I’m a cool Aunty.’ The temptation to try and be their BFF is overwhelming, but that in itself would be breaking the first rule of Aunty 101. Being an Aunty means we are Switzerland by default, we are neutral. When it comes to familial warfare it is our job as Aunty to remain non-aligned to either side of the battle. We must ignore every urge in our body to side with the little ones who are inevitably one hundred times cuter, funnier and cuddlier than our siblings. On the flip side please know that if the parents are moving mad we will put them in their place, quicker than they can say ‘grounded for a month’.
As you can tell I love my nieces and nephews but I’m not blind to the fact that they are actually the biggest swindlers, they can sniff out your Aunty privilege from a mile away. And woe betide a childless Aunty. The less experience you have with children the more you need to be a master of negotiation. Children are born with the instinctive knowledge of the following unspoken agreement: as long as your purse strings are loose and your patience is long , they will repay you with kind of behaviour their parents could only dream of. Everyone wins. As well as the mutual respect that’s gained, they get an extra bag of sweets and you get to feel like Super Nanny Jo Frost for the day.
Lest we forget one of the most important sub categories in the wonderful world of Aunties. We must take a moment to give an honourable mention to non biological Aunties too, these women are family by proximity. Do you share a single drop of DNA? Nope, not an ounce. Are they a staple at every hall party? Yes, no doubt. Do they always remember your birthday? Absolutely. I dread to think where we’d all be without these matriarchs (apart from a couple stones lighter).
So, whether you see yourself as Aunt Viv (Fresh Prince) – loving but firm, Aunt Lydia (A Handmaid’s Tale) – strict and a frankly terrifying, Aunt Pattie or Selma (The Simpsons) – prickly and grumpy or Aunt Gloria (Modern Family) – fun and supportive. It’s time to embrace your title! I claim it, I am an Aunty in every sense of the word, flaws and all.