When your brother or sister has a kid, you’re flooded with nostalgia, overwhelmed with joy and see life in an expansive way you never knew before.
After the initial mind blowing sensation has settled in, the moments you share with these new little people are profound, powerful, beautiful and revitalizing.
Here are 25 things only someone who has a niece or nephew could understand.
1. How fun it is when they start to talk and you can joke around with them
While poop jokes are always a winner, starting to banter more and more with your nieces and nephews becomes an increasingly stimulating experience as they get older.
Not only are they some of the funniest people you’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, the experience of witnessing their developing minds is so rewarding.
2. Finding out what their “favorites” are
Favorite ice cream flavor, favorite color, favorite animal: as whimsical as these decisions can be for a kid, getting to see them decide what they like and don’t like is fascinating.
3. Hearing them trying to pronounce your name
There are few things cuter than listening to a toddler trying to figure out how to make the sounds of your name with their newly wielded skill of speech.
The shortcut nickname they come up with is your favorite thing to be called from then on.
4. How hard it is not to laugh when they sass back
You’re trying to be a supportive grown-up, but it’s hard not to laugh when they quip back to a parent’s correction with a zinger you just couldn’t see coming.
“No Billy, I’m not laughing at you, I’m laughing about a joke I heard earlier. Listen to your mom.”
5. How cool it is to wake them up to make an epic pancake breakfast
There’s nothing more fun than spending the night at your sibling’s place and waking the kids up early to help you make a pancake breakfast.
The excitement in their sleepy little faces and an ensuing battering of questions like, “Can we add sprinkles?” make for some lifetime memories.
6. How incredibly messy it is when you try to make an epic pancake breakfast with little kids
Wow. The idyllic vision of the pancake breakfast quickly becomes a flurry of flour vision, spilled milk and eggs with the fate of Humpty Dumpty on the kitchen floor.
So, so messy. But so, so worth it.
7. The look in their eyes when you read something magical to them for the first time
The Hobbit; The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe; Harry Potter: these are a few classics of our time that excite the imagination and instill a sense of wonder.
Seeing the possibilities well up in their eyes as you spend time reading and connecting with them is absolutely priceless.
8. The feeling when they fall asleep with their little arms slung around you
The connection you feel when one of these precious little people surrenders to sleep, feeling safe with you, is completely disarming.
When this happens you have no desire to move, to put them in bed or to do anything else but experience the moment.
9. How funny it is when they use grown up phrases
From the likes of “Hey, Lady” or “How ya doin’ sweetheart?”, kids really do say the darndest things just when you don’t expect them to. And it’s the most adorable thing in the stinking world.
10. What it’s like to see their personalities blossom
Even from the first time you lay eyes on those new little creatures, their personalities can already shine through.
My first niece was a firecracker right from the start. She screamed until she was red all over when she was born. My second niece whimpered a little, but calmed right down once they got her bundled up like the little snuggle bunny she is.
To this day their personalities couldn’t be more divergent, and they complement each other beautifully.
11. How they help keep you grounded
There’s no reality check like the kind you receive from the astoundingly insightful five-year-old who can see through, not just your excuses, but all the trappings of the grown up world.
Sometimes kids are smarter than adults.
12. How they help you remember what it was like to be a kid
The simplicity, the fearlessness, the view from three feet above the ground, these are things that playing with your nieces and nephews brings you back to.
At their level, you’re back in a place where you can really enjoy things as simple as the deep satisfaction that comes from building an adequate sandcastle.
13. How badly you want to protect them from anything that could ever hurt them
You begin to understand how and why your parents worried so much about you. Watching these little ones grow up stirs up the beginnings of parental protective impulses.
If only there was a way to protect them from heartache, danger or any kind of pain. And you will do just that to the extent that you can.
14. How they make you glad to be an aunt or uncle, not a mom or dad just yet
Kids are awesome. They can also be absolutely awful. And when they are, It’s nice that it’s not your job to figure out the best disciplinary methods. Phew!
The hugeness of the responsibility settles in when you see people close to you raise kids. They need braces? Though your empathetic toward your siblings, you’re also secretly relieved that it’s not your job to figure out how to fund “Project Tammy’s Teeth” and other technical parenting stuff.
15. How they make having your own kids seem less intimidating
At the same time, the vague mysterious idea of “raising kids” is disassembled when you interact with your nieces and nephews. You come to realize that, kids are just people, imperfect interested and fascinating.
The pressure of raising kids “right” is lessened when you see your siblings struggle and triumph in a range of ways which comes out in the personalities of their kids.
16. How much better a hug feels when it comes from arms that can barely reach around you
Tiny, pure, and heartfelt. That’s the way it feels when you get a hug from one of the rambunctious little souls.
17. How fun it is to introduce them to things that interest them
When you’re the one who first sat them down to watch Star Wars, took them to a baseball game or helped them snap a picture on your SLR, you get to cultivate their individual interests.
It makes you feel every bit the cool aunt or uncle and like you’re a part of helping them develop a rich life full of passions.
18. How uninhibited they can be
Still learning social norms, it’s not uncommon for a kid to tell your romantic interest that you farted in the car earlier or to ask you why, by the way, you drive such a junky car?
Unpredictable and uninhibited, your nieces and nephews say what’s on their minds. They’re not trying to people please, so their perspectives are incredibly refreshing, if jarring at times.
19. Getting to know their idiosyncrasies
Seeing the way they decide to categorize their matchbox collection and how ardent they are about not getting it “mixed up”, strikes you with admiration of the varieties of their little quirks and preferences.
20. How blind they are to your imperfections
It doesn’t matter how unenthusiastic you feel, how much you screwed up at work, or what suitor didn’t find you suitable, when you see your nieces and nephews, all that just fades away and you actually feel as cool as they see you. Their optimism is contagious.
21. How cool it is to see similarities and differences from your siblings in them
Like a variation in piece of music, your nieces and nephews are a blending of your sibling and their partner both in mannerisms and personalities. They’re also their very own entirely new force in the world.
It instills a sense of wonder for existence at its very core.
22. How weird it is to see them start to grow up
When the egg-shape-headed baby from the hospital drives your car for practice in a parking lot for the first time, it’s surreal.
When did they start using compete sentences, much less operating motor vehicles?
23. How heartbreaking it is to tell them you’re moving far away
This is the worst. Trying to explain to a little kid that you won’t be able to see them as much any more because the distance between you will be so much greater, is rebutted with comments like, “Well, come over anyway.”
It jump starts your mind to a time when things were just that simple, the world was expansive and solutions were always clear. Trying to explain miles will break your heart.
24. Coming home for the holidays to a houseful of munchkin voices calling your name out in unison
It’s one of the most welcoming things you can experience and fills your heart with love and a sense of family you never understood before. It’s also unbelievably cute and makes the holidays so much more special.
25. How real and limitless your bond is
No matter how much distance separates you or how much time passes, spending time with your nieces and nephews will always be one of the most precious and rewarding experiences in life. They’ll always be your little pals.