I got to meet my nephew and niece over the holidays. (Yes, I really am an “Aunt Bertha.”) My mother often says that being a grandmother is great, and I got to get a taste of that while they were visiting. My niece is less than a year old, an adorable, friendly little creature who would grin hugely at me whenever she saw me. Maybe it’s just my amusing face. But when a baby grins at you, you have to grin back. It’s just hard-wired into the species. And then I’d get to play with her and cuddle and kiss her—and then pass her back to her mom when she got tired or cranky. What could be better?
I’ve actually met my nephew before, but at the time he was barely older than his sister. Now he’s two and able to express himself in English, and he’s a lot more fun. My own youngest son, who has always wanted a little brother or sister of his own (sorry kid, it ain’t happening), was tickled to death to have a little guy to play with. Together they made a tower out of giant legos.
The two are also very similar in temperament. They’re both energetic, extroverted little people who are not at all intimidated by authority figures. At a restaurant one afternoon my nephew was playfully poking my son, despite being told to stop. Finally his grandfather picked him up to get him out of reach of his victim. Even so he stated defiantly, “I will poke!” I probably found this much more amusing than his parents. I’ve been through the same sorts of things with my own rug rats.
Whenever we heard him start to yell, “Clow!” his mom or dad would go investigate. Turns out clow is his shorthand for “I am tired and/or frustrated and about to start hitting now.” What a neat thing, to have a code word to indicate this level of stress to those around you. I want to have a word like that. How many marital spats could be avoided if I could signal clearly that I’m spoiling for a fight and best left alone for a while. Tiring day at work, dealing with argumentative children all afternoon, my mate walks in grumpy and snappish—
“Clow!” I warn.
“Me too,” he would say, and off we’d go to be by ourselves until we weren’t feeling so brittle.
I think the kid’s on to something.