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Monday, January 23, 2012

Say Uncle

Five years ago today, my sister and brother-in-law became parents for the first time, my parents became grandparents for the first time, and I became an uncle for the first time to fraternal twins.

And it wasn't until this year that I signed my name as "Uncle Eric" on respective birthday cards. I'm still getting used to writing "Uncle" in cursive, but I have plenty of opportunities down the road do that again.

But for certain people I know who don't have kids, they see kids as cute little angels until the crying starts. At that point, these people label the kids as "shits" as Mom and Dad (or a grandparent) take over. Seems unfair to reduce a growing child into sheer annoyance. Alas, that's coming from people who haven't seen the whole perspective of parenting.

To the childless, hearing about a temper tantrum at the grocery store or a birthday party is enough evidence to never procreate. I disagree because as annoying and frustrating as it might be to be around an unruly child, people tend to overlook the good qualities a child can bring out of an adult. I'm not talking about how some parents change their communication skills into treating everyone like a child. I'm talking about seeing growth in a child, step by step, and appreciating that progression from an adult perspective.

For example, while spending time with my family at Thanksgiving, I wanted to take an afternoon nap on the couch. My nieces were playing and drawing near me as I started to lay down. I merely stated how I was taking a nap and one of my nieces said she and her sister would be quiet and draw. How awesome was that? Plenty. I have one of their drawings up on my refrigerator, serving as a reminder of many things -- and not just a talented budding artist.

When you recognize the person you were as a child in your own child, a lot of things make more sense in adulthood. You understand why you were the way you were -- and you can understand how or why your parents responded. Like when I see my nieces act shy around people, I remember what it was like to be incredibly shy at their age. Instead of forcing them to come out of a shell, I try to make them laugh with impressions. Whether it's Elmo or drama queens I know, my nieces pick up on the silliness. I'll do anything to get a laugh, especially for them.

In only five years, I've seen plenty of progress with these two little girls. I'm thankful I've been to every birthday party and have been with them on Thanksgiving and/or Christmas because you don't get to reschedule those sorts of events. They'll be asking for the car keys sooner rather than later.

So even if there's an occasional post-lunch meltdown now and constant door-slamming in the future teenage years, there will be plenty of other things to be proud of. That's worth seeing.

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