My SIL's nieces and nephew, her older sister's kids, are visiting for a few days. The girls are just-turned-twelve and just-about-nine, and they are into crafts and dolls, so my mom thought it would be nice to take them here for a tour. (I'm not gonna tell you how long it took us to get there--oof.) They had a lot of fun looking at the displays and playing dress-up in Victorian hats and capes for a stroll down the pretend Main Street (where the figures are displayed in windows).
My parents were given two figures as a Christmas gift years ago--they date back almost to the company's beginnings, and since then we added a boy and a girl, as well as felines representing past and present household members, as well as a black lab we affectionately call Black Peter in honor of the legendary companion of St. Nicholas. I told the girls that when we got home I'd look in my parents' photo albums to find a picture of my sister's cat sleeping on the fake snow in the middle of our display. Nothing says Christmas like an orange catzilla squarely loafed out in the middle of a snowscape.
Sure enough, there was a photo in the 2005 album, and I showed the girls. They looked at the surrounding pictures, and saw their beloved cousins (my brother's children) as babies. Specifically, my now-middle nephew was only a couple weeks old that Christmas, and my niece only 16 months. Then came the thoughtful question from the nine-year-old: "Were Uncle M. and Aunt F. married before [niece] and [nephew] were born, or after?"
It was then I recalled that these kids had not come to the much-celebrated 2006 wedding, nor had their mother. Their mother reportedly told my brother and SIL it would scandalize the kids. (Which was complete baloney, because whenever my now-SIL had a falling out with my brother, usually over getting married, she'd run off with the kids to her parents', where her divorced sister had been living with the kids. So, what, the babies came from the store? You do realize these kids get math in school, right?)
Still, with all these thoughts racing through my head, I knew I had to walk a fine line. These were not my daughters, and not even my nieces--and it was very nice of my SIL (really, her sister) to allow us to spend the day with these dear girls. What I wound up saying was, "Well, they did do things a little out of order and had those two first, but then they made things right, so everything's good now." (Which, mind-bogglingly, it is.)
That answer seemed satisfactory to the little miss, and she moved on to more pressing topics such as when was it time to go swimming back at my brother's house. Whew.
When we took the girls back to my brother's, I got my reward: sit-down time with my youngest nephew, who showered me with his drool. Drool, affection, close enough.