I often say here I like to tell stories. Well here is one this Friday morning.
I was just loading up my tablet with some videos for a road trip this weekend with my brother (Jeff) and his wife (Sara) to visit my parents. And well Katie my niece. I will be her entertainment :). I am the "Cool Uncle." For some context I am 44. I don't have any kids. Katie is 4. Here is Katie on her last vacation a few months ago in Mexico (this pic will make sense later).
Honestly not a huge fan of kids until Katie came into my life. I guess it is easier for me to be the "Cool Uncle" since she isn't my kid, but like from the start I treated her like an "adult." I didn't talk to her like she was a "three years old" when she was in fact three. When I interact with her I don't treat her much different then how I would treat you if we met face-to-face. Jeff isn't so sure about this (much more on this below the fold), but Sara LOVES it. I also don't treat her like a "girl."
See until she was born, there had not been a women born into my family since 1897 (yes you read that correctly). Since that time, until my brother was born (I am nine years older) it was only single males. Why there is a III after my name. So not only wasn't I "good" around kids I had NO idea how to be around a "little lady." The only women in my family until Katie were via marriage.
But if there is one thing the men in my family do well (I guess other then me) is marry smart, empowered women. Heck for many of my first years people here thought I was female. I took/take that as a compliant, cause well nothing wrong with being a woman :). So I figured the best way to interact with Katie was just to be myself.
Oh so much more below the fold.
More story ....
Last Christmas I was at my brother's house for a few days. Everybody was asleep but myself and Sara. Maybe we had had a few adult beverages. She said to me:
You know Katie loves you so much. She talks about you 24/7. You will always be there for her won't you?I wasn't sure what to say exactly, cause of course I would. This conversation went on for a long time and eventually she said she was worried about Jeff. She knows he loves Katie with all his heart, but maybe too much. She said he kind of treats her like she is "breakable" and that she will always be his "little girl." Always trying to protect her. I guess that makes total sense.
That pic above, Katie swimming with a dolphin almost didn't happen, cause Jeff didn't think it was "safe." Sara was like Jeff we have been taking her to swimming lessons since she was two. She can swim like a fish, she will be fine.
Cool Uncle note: Last year my parents asked if I wanted to go see Katie's swimming lesson. I was like no! Why would I want to do that? I would rather just hop in the pool with her. So I did for like an hour or so. I hate to say it, but actually seemed to be a foreign concept to her parents.
Sara went on to say she felt it was good for her to fail at stuff. Fall down and get back up.
I told her I had wanted to give Katie a skate board for X-mas, I had one when I was her age, but didn't buy her one cause I was worried what her and Jeff would think. I went on to explain my dad used to take me to a park, when I was like 10, with a big hill and I'd ride it down the thing so fast (with no idea how to stop I might add) and fall down again and again. Falling down was how I learned to stop :). Come home bloody. I think at one point my mom might have said, "rub some dirt on that and try again."
Sara was like yes, yes, yes that is what I am talking about!!!!!!!!!!! If she rides it down the driveway and face plants it, so what. Isn't that what you and I (Sara is my age almost, seven years older then my brother) did as a kid?
So the first video I loaded up on my tablet was this (the whole thing is amazing, but if you have ADD go at least 1:20 for the "magic"):
I've always been worried I might "over-step" my boundaries with Katie. I mean her parents are her parents. For example she refuses to eat meat. My brother, a Republican accused me of telling her not to eat meat. I was like Jeff (1) I eat meat and (2) I would NEVER tell Katie what she should or shouldn't do. You are her parents and I support you.
But I'll be loading up a lot more videos today. Mostly golf and tennis, sports (and equipment I've wanted to buy her) I am/was good at. At a time a college Division I golf scholarship guy and I can do things with a tennis ball that would blow you mind. Also other stuff of people just being amazing.
Oh and will be asking them to take their training wheels off her darn bike. Heck get the thing out of the garage.
A Katie pic or two to end things:
Her "Silly Witch" custom for Halloween:
About my favorite pic. She was frustrated with me cause the game I'd given her, well I couldn't explain how to use it. She was telling me here how it worked.