auntology [an-toluh-jee] noun. 1. The science of being the sister of one’s father or mother, the wife of one’s uncle, or an older woman who is respected by but not necessarily related to the speaker. 2. The sum or characteristics of the mental states and processes of an aunt.

The system of auntology is difficult to explain, but aunts around the world clearly understand and universally practice this science upon the arrival of nieces, nephews, godchildren, and children of dear friends. Perhaps auntology can best be defined by listing a few of the classic tenets and principles that are upheld by its most devoted students:

1. Arms were made for snuggles and hugs.

2. Always wear clothing suitable for bending, jumping, running, climbing, spinning, sword fighting, skipping, shooting, and wrestling.

3. Quarters and candy are the best bribes for catechismal memory work. Have plenty on hand at all times.

4. Secrets whispered by nieces and nephews must be taken to the grave.

5. “I wish you were my mommy” really means “Aunts are rockstars!”

6. “Amen” is your special word at every baptism. Say it loudly.

7. No song or dance is too silly for the moment.

8. Narnia books always sound better if read aloud with a British accent.

9. Prayer lists only get bigger, not smaller.

10. Ice cream really does make it better.

11. Silly face pictures. Every. Time.

12. You will climb the tree when no other adult will.

13. Never get out of bed before your nieces and nephews have a chance to wake you.

14. You don’t smell like milk, so help a mother out and take the crying baby.

15. Fight for the right to be Yoda instead of Vader. Being the oldest in the room has to count for something.

16. Your lap will never be big enough.

17. Pretend play is always more fun if you use medical terms.

18. You can do no wrong in the eyes of the child you love, so make sure you do only right.

19. In the inevitable moment that you break #18, be sure to admit you are wrong and apologize.

20. Your nieces and nephews are never too old to hear you say, “I love you.”

And that is auntology. Further questions may be directed to an aunt near you.