You may have seen this post floating around the blogosphere: 50 Rules for Dads of Daughters. Some of my favourites were:
6. Buy her a glove and teach her to throw a baseball. Make her proud to throw like a girl… a girl with a wicked slider.
18. Tell her she’s beautiful. Say it over and over again. Someday an animated movie or “beauty” magazine will try to convince her otherwise.
20. Take her camping. Immerse her in the great outdoors. Watch her eyes fill with wonder the first time she sees the beauty of wide open spaces. Leave the iPod at home. (emphasis added)
41. Take it easy on the presents for her birthday and Christmas. Instead, give her the gift of experiences you can share together.
The post inspired me to thinking about my 2 super-hero nephews (ages 4 & almost 2 respectively), and who I am/need to be as an auntie. Sans children of my own, does this change who I need to be or what I can do? Perhaps folks with kids who are also aunties and uncles could weigh in on that.
Anyway, the past couple posts have been a little heavy. Today… we “auntie-up” folks, taking in every moment possible with 2 little boys both carrying extra motors.
Now… my experience is with little fellers, but I have a deep, smiley hunch that most of these will apply to little girls too. So take note.
1. If you are invited and able: get to the hospital as fast as you possibly can to be present for the birth, or shortly thereafter. Trust me, they will want you to repeat their birth stories as YOU saw it again and again.
2. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to dive into someone’s recycling bin to look for old cardboard boxes. Armed with those, some markers, paint and neon shoelaces, you will create the best presents a kid could hope for.
3. Choose a charity together and donate in his name for his bday/Christmas. Lead by example early that “stuff” really doesn’t matter, but people do — ALL people.
4. Trundle up in the car and head to the pet store… or as my sister-in-law calls it: “the free zoo”. You will probably discover your nephew racing down the aisle towards the clown fish squealing “NEMO!”
5. Kidnap him as much as possible when he’s a baby and show him off at church. Of course it’s all in the name of giving the parents a break, but really you know you’re in it for the snuggles and overwhelming sense of pride at the life in your arms.
6. Stick your tongue out at him.
7. Be okay when you cry after he gets hurt in your care. If he’s in tears, it’s okay for him to see you in tears.
8. Stick to the parents’ guns. It’s easy for any auntie to give into a child’s plea for ice cream or dollar store toys. But when when mom and dad say “no”, unless you have prior permission to break said rule, stick with the adults on this one even if you run the risk of a tantrum.
9. Learn to be okay with poopy diapers. It won’t hurt you. It’s poop. Besides, diaper-changing is one of the most intimate ways children learn trust.
10. LOVE BATH TIME!!!! Mom and Dad might have rules around bath time, but teach your nephews that you CAN be that person they can soak to the skin using dripping washclothes. Play “sink/float” 20,000 times with toy boats, and always, always, always be soothing when soap gets in the eyes. That hurts!
11. Learn to understand that bathtime is a time where trust and love is nurtured. Water fights that are cool when he’s 3 won’t be cool when he’s 17 (he’ll probably pick YOU up and toss you in a swimming pool).
12. Make your home safe. When he packs his bags to run away from his own home after getting mad at mommy and daddy, let him run to you. OF COURSE you’ll give him back! But take his anger seriously and be that place he can run to if he needs to.
13. If you don’t know how to make cookies with sprinkles, learn immediately.
14. Finger paint, finger paint, finger paint.
15. When your nephew is terrified at swimming for the first time in a wide-open lake, let him wrap his little arms around your neck as you breaststroke towards the dock. Don’t let him go. He’ll be ready one day, but if today’s not that day, don’t let go.
16. While sleeping routines are important to maintain, it’s okay for aunties to fall asleep on the couch snuggling little loved ones.
17. When forts of couch cushions and blankets are being built, HE is the foreman. You’re just there as a day labourer. Listen up!
18. Like the article above, learn his fave ice cream flavour(s). Take note: nieces and nephews maintain the God-given right to change their favourite flavours without giving due notice. Be forewarned. Even if you didn’t know and bought the wrong flavour, YOU are still fully liable. 😀
19. Hang them by their ankles for as long as your back can stand. You can’t do that when they’re 18.
20. “Walk” them up your body and flip them over. Be prepared for demanded repeats.
21. Lie on the floor and balance them on your raised legs. Say “1…! 2…! 3…!” and watch the anxious excitement build, and then flip them onto your chest. Once again: be prepared for repeats.
22. Jump in puddles.
23. Explore EVERY SINGLE ROCK they pick up. To them, each is precious and different.
24. Dance with them. Praise their dancing as boys. Dancing is for boys AND girls and their moves are terrific.
25. Play house and kitchen and have tea with them. Again… these aren’t just for girls. And yes: blankies and toy moose are of course invited.
26. Blankies are 100% OKAY. It’s comforting for him, and one day he won’t have that and will learn to find other things that create comfort. Let him have his blankie.
27. Stop sniffling and get over your snot-phobia. Like poop, it won’t bite back. Wipe that little nose or else that booger is going somewhere else and THAT is gross.
28. When you play “Ring Around the Rosie” (which you will), fall down when he falls down. Again: HE’S THE FOREMAN!
29. Farts are funny. Learn this.
30. Share the cookie batter spoon. Remember what you learned in kindergarten.
31. Get the glo-in-the-dark solar system for his room. Every kid needs to sleep in the stars.
32. Don’t always default to written books. Jump into your imagination… and his… and MAKE IT UP! 😀
33. Pray for them… tell them about Jesus… take questions about God creating unicorns seriously. This is tough-thinking stuff!
34. Congratulate and encourage their play with little girls. The more they learn to play with girls as friends and to see them as equals, the more they will continue to see them as friends and equals.
35. Learn to make the best canon-ball into the pool the world has ever seen.
36. When they’re babies, toss them on Grandma’s comfy bed as they giggle uproariously. When they’re older, toss yourself onto the bed with them.
37. Explore every pathway on a walk in the woods.
38. Adore every handful of dandilions you’ll receive.
39. Show them how you make your bday and Christmas presents so they can start making them for each other.
40. Love your veggies. He’s watching you. Love your veggies.
41. Kiss him all over over while he still giggles about it. Take in all the slurpy kisses you can in return.
42. Perfect the Turbo-Hug (nephew takes a racing start and launches into your arms).
43. Feel free to be the giggler when they’re learning to talk and the swear by accident. Let mom and dad do the correcting. (ROFL!!!)
44. When your nephew is looking for the family dog (Scooby) in church, and starts yelling “BOOBY! BOOOOBY!”, sit up straight with pride and say: “That’s MY boy!”
45. Hold firm after you say “No”, and a tantrum is flung. You will want to give in every which way because hey! You’re the “cool auntie”! But he’ll thank you later in life for being the stable adult when he needed it from the first, rather than the spoiler that indulged him.
46. Indulge a little bit. 😀
47. Be proud and excited to nerd-ify your nephews: name parks “Bag End”, porches “Spare Oom”, wear tea towels as capes, make up goofy super-hero names, and learn to love The Incredibles.
48. Tell him you love him in as many ways as you possible can.
49. Learn to listen to him when HE tells you he loves you in as many was he possibly knows.
50. Get down’n’dirty… puddles, mud pies, worms, gardens, rocks, weeds, sand… you name it. Roll around in it, go in with bare feet, remember that ALL weeds smell as beautiful as roses, every worm has a name, each mound of sand is a castle, and… he can ALWAYS slip his hand into yours when he’s ready to go home after a long day of fighting monsters, exploring new worlds, being heroes to friends, and limping because of the tiny scrape on his knee you’ve kissed 1000 times already.
Tell me about it!