To my nieces, who are 2 and 4, I am simply �Auntie.� I am by far the favourite. When I go to visit I am treated like a rock star; there is yelling, screaming and lots of hugging going on. I never buy them toys, I don�t spoil them and I don�t talk like a little kid. All I do is simply listen and play with them.
I love to play.
I can spend hours playing hide and go seek, even though they watch where I hide. We can sit in the tree house and talk about how boys are sometimes yucky. We can sit and play Barbies for long periods of time; I usually do the clothes because I am the only one at this point who has coordination. Sometimes we take long walks together on the beach and scream when we find something. Sometimes we just scream as we run around the backyard. Sometimes we pretend to be in a royal palace as I serve them real tea and talk very fancy-like.
I think why I am the favourite with them isn�t because of what I buy them or because I let them get away with murder (I don�t), but because I haven�t forgotten how to play. I haven�t forgotten what it�s like to be impressed by the world, how fun repetition is (try doing Ring around the Rosie for 1/2hr � see if you can make it fun each time. We can!). I don�t forget what �special� means like how it�s special to have a bed put out for Auntie and how it�s even more special to be able to eat toast in it at 6AM. I don�t forget how important it is to want to be heard, to want to share a discovery, to want to learn everything you can. I don�t forget about the wonder. I don�t forget what it�s like to be four, when you want to be important and sometimes are made to feel like you aren�t. Heck, that can happen at any age.
I think these are the reasons why children are instinctually attracted to me. Wherever I go children stare at me or want to talk to me. I once met a 5 year old girl who didn�t talk to anyone, yet when she saw me she came running over to me and just talked a mile a minute while her mum looked on completely stunned. I think I bring this out because I am willing to listen, I am willing to be impressed and I am willing to believe in their world.
Tonight, my mum told me that my 4 year old niece said to her, �Auntie isn�t a grown up to Marcy (her 2 year old sister) and me. Only to you and mummy.�
That was the sweetest thing I had heard in a really long time.