This is an ode to Aunties – the ones who tell their nieces and nephews embarrassing stories about their parents, the ones who invent secret languages with the kids and let them stay over when they ‘run away’ from home. It’s an ode to the Aunties who call their nieces and nephews their best friends.
We totally love mums here at CHILD (obviously), but sometimes the Aunty reinforcements come in handy for things like giving honest life advice or taking the load off the parents by playing Lego for hours on end.
My eight-year-old nephew slept over my house last weekend. We did the cosy ‘hygge’ thing and watched The Day After Tomorrow (the kid’s seen every movie under the sun – it was slim pickings), I cooked tacos because that’s what you eat when your nephew comes to stay, and he woke up the next day claiming his makeshift bed was more comfortable than his actual one. We spent the whole of Sunday at the Sydney Aquarium where we watched a shark feeding and he managed to take about twenty selfies with some sting-rays on my phone (which I naturally stumbled across later that night). My sister-in-law told me that when he went home, he proclaimed that he wanted to move in with my husband and me!
This got me thinking about the reverse: sure, we Aunties love to spoil and dote, but our nieces and nephews also have something special to give back. Even if they don’t realise it – we have lots to learn from them!
I’m not a mum yet, but when I spend time with my five nephews and one niece, I imagine that’s the closest I’ll feel to having my own until I do. When they run to me excited for my visit, or call me Lani like the rest of my family does, or when they hand me their bottle of warm milk to feed them, I imagine that endorphin rush is what I’ll feel when I have my own.
They’ve taught me to be cautious about the way I behave around little people. That even though I don’t spend time with them as much as their parents do, Aunty love means they will still copy and mimic the things I do and say.
They’ve shown me new ways to be creative. And be funny. And how to maintain self control when all I want to do is cry with laughter at the way they misbehave (why is it so cute?!).
This is the gift nieces and nephews give without even trying. Their Aunty love is natural, and honest and palpable.
So yes, we love Aunties..but the kids love them more!
Words: Lana Al Habl