Thursday, May 19, 2011

Add Sugar. Send Home. It's good to be the aunt and uncle.

When my niece, GG, was not quite 2-years-old, Kurt and I stayed at my sister’s following their annual Christmas bash. We had just settled down for sleep, party over and everyone staying there to bed, when we heard footsteps upstairs. Concerned, we went up to investigate and found the front door wide open. Across the foyer, GG stood on the steps going to the second floor. She looked confused and very small, even for a small kid.

“GG, did you open the door?” I asked her while Kurt walked through the rest of the first floor to make sure no one else was there.

Wide eyes. “No.”

“Are you sure?” I asked again and went to her, scooping her up in my arms. Kurt returned, and declared everything was safe. My sister and brother-in-law were asleep in their room on the second floor.

GG nodded and snuggled into my shoulder. I told Kurt I’d put her back to bed and he went down to the basement bedroom and I took GG upstairs to her room.

In her room, we sank down into my sister’s rocking chair and GG snuggled closed against my chest, her little butt half in the air. I wrapped the blanket around us and watched the clock. I figured we’d rock until she was asleep, maybe five or ten minutes. She was warm and sleepy and her fine blond hair covered part of her face. She was this tiny, tiny little girl and she was beautiful to just hold and rock.

Being an aunt is rocking the child you love with your whole heart to sleep, knowing that you would have run barefoot into that night to find her, knowing you would have killed anyone who dared to harm her and knowing that tomorrow morning she will, rightly, call for her mommy and you will lovingly give her back. It is loving other people’s children, trying to find your place in their lives and being a support to their parents.

I laid her back down in her crib and tucked the blanket around her, torn between staying there all night with her and returning to the warm bed with my husband. I just wanted that moment to continue, to last just this little bit longer.

So Kurt and I are exploring the art, the skills, the drama and the love of being an aunt and uncle. Health problems may prevent us from having our own children, but we are fortunate to have eight other children, our nieces and nephews, to love and spoil, but also to influence and guide in the ways we can.

One of the first things we have learned, much to our siblings chagrin, is we can just add some sugar, wind the kids up, and send them home again.

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