Growing up in a family with 8 kids had its advantages and challenges – but one of the greatest advantages now is that I get to be an uncle to so many adorable kids! I love my nieces and nephews and they provide a never ending source of funny and meaningful memories. We had a great family reunion this last week reminding me that, although things don’t always turn out perfectly, there are also plenty of reasons to laugh and enjoy the moment.
For instance, one of my nieces was kindly brushing my leg hair a couple days ago, which it badly needed as it hasn’t been brushed in years. Later I saw her brushing my brother’s chest hair too! I got a great picture (but don’t worry I won’t post it here unless I get enough requests for it)! I’m thinking chest-hair-brushing might catch on as a special spa treatment for men.
It was also the birthday of one of my nieces, who turned 5 years old, the day before I got here. Her name is Eliah, but for some reason she has decided that for now she wants to go by Jenny. Towards the end of the birthday party she told her mom that she was sad that her uncle Clint couldn’t be there. Then she looked happy as she said, “You know what – I bet he is celebrating it wherever he is.” So when I got to the family reunion I told her that I missed her on her birthday but that I kind of celebrated it when I was in the airport in London. She smiled and said, “Just like I thought!”
My four year old nephew Jayden (who frequently tells me “I’m a monkey”) tugged on my hand and said, “I have a secret. Let me whisper in your ear.” So he whispered this: “Why did the banana go to the doctor?” – “Why?” – “Because he wanted to go to the doctor.” (I think the original punch line for the joke was supposed to be “Because he wasn’t peeling well.” – but he adapted it for his own purposes. I’ve also noticed that it is not totally necessary for “knock knock” jokes to make sense for kids about that age. If you just put the word toilet in it somewhere – it is usually a hilariously funny hit!). Jayden’s mom also promised him today that he could go swimming right after he saw his sister do a dance for everyone in the living room. The instant she was done and people were clapping, he already had is pants and underwear off and gave us all a different kind of show as he streaked across the living room to go get his swim suit.
And the older ones constantly surprise me by how smart and talented they are. I thought it was funny that the teacher of my nephew Matthew made a rule on how many questions he could ask in class – he is just so curious. I read to some of the kids a book that my 11 year old nephew Brayton had written (with 6 short chapters). I kept asking them if I should stop or keep reading at the end of each chapter and all the kids yelled out, “Keep reading” – it was a page turner! He also sent me an email the other day with a picture that he recommended I use for my gmail profile picture. It was a character he created for a game he invented called “Battlemon.” I’m so proud to have that as my profile picture!
A few days ago my 7 year old nephew Jeremiah, while riding in a car with my sister-in-law and two of my brothers, out of nowhere said, “Mom, did you know that Sparta and Athens were city-states, like Washington DC is a city-state?” When she said she didn’t know that and asked him how he did, he talked about he read it in a testing book that he selected about Greece. He then said in a matter-of-fact way, “I figured if I didn’t read it I would never know.” A couple years ago, when his parents took him to Florida and spent a lot of money visiting Disney world, the beach, and all the other attractions – he was asked what his favorite part of the trip was. He said something funny: “Hmm. I have a picture of it in my mind. Oh – I remember!” And then he said his favorite part of the whole trip was going to McDonald’s!
I love getting emails from my nieces and nephews too. Here is a recent exchange with my 11 year old nephew.
Brayton: “Guess What? You don’t have to answer that, I’ll just tell you. I made my own buissnes-like thing. I call it Psych-ix! It’s where my partner and I try to figure out mysteries of the world. But… the thing is, I don’t have a partner yet. But when I do, I’ll Be sure to send you an up-dated page. Bye!!!”
Me: “That is really cool! What are you looking for in a partner? Can I apply?”
Brayton: “I’m not sure, I guess. Okay, the most recent mysterious happenings I have noticed are some dissaperences. I had a little card-like thing with a green ferret I made on it. Here’s what happened, I was at a friend’s house we were in his room, I set the card down on a box that he had and we went outside for a while. When it was time for me to go, I went upstairs to get it, but it was GONE!! I looked around his room, but there was’nt A trace of it anywhere! Isn’t that cool!”
In addition to making me laugh, they make me feel so loved. A couple days ago I also got to meet for the first time my 5 year old nephew Blake (who was just adopted). Already by yesterday he decided to cuddle up to me on the couch and said, “I love you.” I said “I love you too.” Feeling warm and fuzzy, I then turned to my little niece and told her I loved her. She responded by saying, “I love juice,” and then giggling uncontrollably.
It didn’t happen this week but we were remembering how when my niece, Shaelyn, was about 5 years old she was watching TV with my brother. The commercial said, “Every kid thinks their dad is the greatest.” My brother asked her, “Do you think I am the greatest dad in the world?” She said, “Yeah.” He said, “Do you really mean it?” As a five year old, she said, “Well, not really, but I didn’t want to hurt your feelings dad.”
Oh man, there are so many more funny stories and memories – but I guess this entry is getting long enough already.
My dad (who I don’t have to pretend to say he is one of the greatest dads in the world) went through a heart attack and emergency heart surgery only a couple of months ago. When I asked him the other day how he was doing and how he was enjoying the trip – he said he thought it was like heaven for him. He was talking not just about his cute grandkids, but also about how meaningful it was for him to notice at night when others began to go to sleep, most or all of his kids migrate towards each other just to play, talk, and laugh.
I don’t think I do a good enough job of telling each of my family how much I love them (through words and actions) but the truth is that I can’t help but feel very lucky that their lives are a part of mine, and that I now get to enjoy all of their spouses and very fun and cute kids too. 🙂
Do you have any favorite “cute kid stories” from the kids in your life? If so I would love to hear them. What is it about spending time with kids that makes life seem better?
“Mom?” “What?” “Mom?” “What?” “Mom?” “WHAT?!” …”I love you, Mom.”
I’ve heard that same exchange multiple times between children and moms who don’t know each other. It is one of the mysteries of life to me. =o) Children have this uncanny knack for knowing how far they can push you, and yet are somehow incredibly endearing.
I have 37 nieces and nephews and 4 great now (they are all great)! When you measure time by a child’s growth it sure seems to speed by! I have absolutely loved seeing how parenthood has changed and developed my siblings. I love their unique parenting strategies and admire their dedication to their families. I am constantly in awe of the immense love they have for their children. My sister who I have always admired in so many ways says that parenting is the hardest thing she has ever done (she is incredible at it!), and yet the most rewarding.
This school year I have had the most challenging group of students to date (and the faculty knows it!). One day we had a scare in the neighborhood and I was notified that we were locking down. I learned a lot about myself in that seemingly eternity–one thing being how much I love the children that I have been entrusted with…even the one who has given me the biggest run for my money this year.
Children make life better because: They laugh with their entire bodies. They tell ridiculous jokes and think they’re hilarious. They are very quick to forgive and very willing to forget. They are easily awed and exceptionally curious. They tell you exactly what they’re thinking with blatant honesty. They walk with much exuberance that somehow adults can’t get away with. They love openly and with no inhibitions. There is a mischievous gleam in their eyes that usually indicates something very entertaining. They hug your guts out. They are excited to contribute and have an important job. Their prayers are funny, from the heart, and surprisingly deep in their simplicity. They trust. They somehow make me simultaneously want to be very responsible and joyfully spontaneous.
I have the best job in the world, hate to brag. =o) And I am incredibly blessed to be in a big and wonderful family!
PS Very fun to read and love the pics. Cute kids, those nieces and nephews of yours!
VeNicia – I really liked your classic description of why kids make life better! “They laugh with their entire bodies, etc…” Even just your description makes me smile! You obviously know what you are talking about.
My daughter, nearly ten months old now, already has more personality than you would think could fit in such a tiny body. She doesn’t walk yet, but she crawls all over and stops to taste whatever she can find on the floor. We try to keep the floor as innocuous as popular, but still find it necessary to finger sweep her mouth with some frequency when she gets a hold of something she shouldn’t. A few mornings ago, she sat near me on the floor and while watching me intently, put her hand to her mouth. When I got up to she what she was trying to choke on this time, she raced away across the floor, laughing like crazy. Then came back to do it again and again. Daddy’s are fun to tease.
Somehow, the word “possible” became “popular” under my fingers. Don’t know how that happened, but you get the idea.
Joseph, I bet having a 10 month year old you just wish that having the floor innocuous was more popular!
And man, if your daughter is already faking you our at 10 months, I can only imagine what the teenage years will bring 😉
Thats so cool. You lucky man! Wish I had that many nieces and nephews to be around. So where were you recently. don’t tell me you already went to Denmark. I still need to get you my cousins information. He wants to meet you.
Hi Toffer – thanks for the comment. I actually was already in Denmark, and now I am in England. I’ll be presenting this week at a conference here at Oxford. But I do want to meet your cousin when next time that I am back on that side of the ocean.
Ah kids! I love them!
Just yesterday I was with six of my cousin’s kids. The proceeded to tell all the older boys that they were princesses, were wearing dresses, had purple and pink hair, were wearing high heels, etc, etc, etc, and, of course, laffed their heads off at how dang funny they thought they were! It will be fun to tell them these stories later in life.
Life is so much better when there are kids around reminding us not to take life so seriously and that family really is the center of life.
aha – yes. i do love them too. i only have one nephew who lives far far away, but many kids of dear friends who almost act like nieces and nephews. many times my friends get visits from me not because of them but because i need to enter the world of their kids and just be with them, at their level, with their joys and hopes, and best of all their laughter and playfulness.
Two more cute kid updates:
1. My sister-in-law and my nephew were traveling a couple weeks ago, and she asked him if he was home sick. He said he was actually “sister-sick” – he missed his two younger sisters!
2. My cute little niece wanted to call me the other day but got my answering machine message that said I would be out of the country for a month and a half. She asked my sister where I lived, and my sister said I just kind of lived all over the place. My niece said, “Oh neat, just like Jasmine on her magic carpet ride.”
Also, at some point I want to share here two of the funniest little kid stories from my friend Joey’s niece Liberty.