You were the first to be born in the family. I’ve been around friends’ kids for years, but you are family. Of course, I saw and see you more often. You’ve spent an occasional night at my house since you were months old. You are so aware of what my days look like, how I move around the house, how I need help with going to bed, getting up, and many tasks in between. You watch. You observe. You see what others do for me and you jump in to help when you can and when I let you. Because you’re only 5 1/2 and 2 1/2. You aren’t able to help me with everything. Yet.
Over one weekend, you came to stay for three nights and three days. It was a longer visit. Normally I share my room with just you, niece. But dear nephew, you convinced me to have a big sleepover. You were scared of snakes and you missed your mom. So we were all “roomies” for one night.
“I’m not as afraid anymore because you’re going to be beside me the whole night,” said the nephew.
“Good. Your excitement trumps your fears,” I said and then explained the definition of trump to the 5 year old.
He already picked up on the meaning, “It’s like a cloud passing by.”
“Yea, your excitement’s up here and your fear is way down here.”
As I talked to the nephew, calming his fears and igniting his joy for a new experience, he moved his hands through the air to demonstrate our illustration of the fear clouds moving on.
We talked about God being with us and having nothing to fear. But I understood. Sometimes our fears feel heavier to handle in the dark. We don’t want to be alone. We need the physical presence of another.
Plus I loved the idea of a sleepover with the nephew and the niece. Even though I knew I was about to sacrifice my sleep.
I pondered how we would do this sleepover. You were already in the room, dear niece, because you go to bed at 7pm. You’re big enough now to not need the pac-n-play. You slept on the floor while we snuck in at 8pm. That’s your bedtime, nephew, and I was willing to make this work.
You fell asleep very quickly that night. I was glad. The next morning was an important one. We were taking you to meet your kindergarten teacher.
You woke me up in the middle of the night. We carried on a short conversation. Soon I realized you were sleep-talking and you wouldn’t remember this moment. Then you had to go to the bathroom at 5am. You didn’t go back to sleep. We whispered for the next hour and a half. We tried to let your sister keep sleeping.
Eventually we were all awake. Time to get ready for the meeting at your new school. I told you I was going with you and you gave me a hug. Gpa (my dad) drove us. I think you were more nervous than excited that day. Starting school is a big deal. The next milestone in your little life.
You are growing up too fast and I’m only your aunt.