Through my marriage to Ahmad, I became an aunt to his four nieces and three nephews- their ages ranging from 11 years to 6 months old. The youngest two were born after Ahmad and I were engaged, and I even met one of them on his very first day in this world.
Let me tell you, they are great kids and I see a lot of potential in them already. And being an aunt is cool, even though I have instructed them to never use that title to refer to me, just my first name. I am not that old is my justification. But whatever they call me by, it doesn’t change the fact that I am now officially part of their family and expected to be part of their lives.
Which is what I’m trying to do, using my own aunts as an example. As I was growing up, I always felt they were present in my life despite the fact that they were the adults, but now that I have gotten older, our relationship has only gotten better and I find myself going to them for advice or to share a good laugh and a cup of coffee.
This is exactly how I hope things turn out with this bunch.
I don’t have much experience with children since the youngest person in my family is my sister (who is only three years younger than me), so I really don’t know what kids these days like or do for fun or even how they think. Yet I came up with a good strategy.
I have tried on many occasions to ask them, to get to know them better and that seems to be working. Kids really want someone to listen to them and not make them feel like their thoughts and opinions don’t matter. They’re in the midst of forming their views and identities and the last thing I want to do, as a not-so-adult is ignore them. I still remember this one time I left all the other adults to go play a game of Connect-4 with the kids. And I’ll tell you, it was as much fun for me as it was for them.
Of course, I’m also finding it tough to strike a balance between being the cool auntie they can hang out with and a grown-up. I am in disbelief that I am now in a position where I can issue a comment or advice that they might not like.
I’ll give you an example. A couple of days ago, it was one of the niece’s birthday and I decided to get her a bunch of books as a present. They were a very significant present because they were titles from some of my favorite young-adult series, meaning that I had read them when I was her age. I wanted for a link to be established between us. While at the bookstore though, I started filtering out the titles, looking for things that were age and topic-appropriate. The last thing I wanted was to introduce an 11 year old to the world of dating, for example!
When did I grow up and start thinking like that?
Still, it’s a joy to me when the nephew that used to run and hide whenever I came over to visit now screams my name in happiness and runs over to give me a bear-hug. I guess we’re going to get along just fine.