1. I am really cool. If you need a confidence boost, encourage a sibling to have a kid. That kid will adore you for reasons you will not really understand. You will be the recipient of unsolicited hugs and tugs-on-the-sleeve that indicate a request to play. Never again in life will you be so popular.
2. I am f-ing hilarious. Also for reasons you will not really understand, your niece/nephew will make you feel like Chris Rock killing it in a club on Saturday night. All it takes is funny faces and inane games like, “Let’s run in circles for a half hour until we get kind of dizzy and want to barf.” After you send him/her home for the night, you will briefly consider a career in comedy. Your loving significant other will steer you away from this, but it’s nice while it lasts.
3. I’m never the bad guy. Though you may care about your nieces and nephews learning right from wrong and all that good stuff, you don’t have to care about being the one to teach them right from wrong. They can slap each other like two hormonal girls in middle school, get ice cream all over themselves and their nearby surroundings, and throw rocks in the pool until the filter stops working. You don’t have to scold them. In fact, when they get put in the corner for a timeout, you can be in the background giving them a pouty face of solidarity, whispering that you’ll have a lollipop waiting when the punishment is over.
4. I am inspiring. This will blow your mind, so get ready: Your nieces and nephews will aspire to be you. They will look up to you as if you actually know what the hell you’re doing in life. They will want to go where you go, see what you see. They will ask you questions and expect you to have the answers. They will hold your hand when they are scared. They will look to you for guidance, for reaching things on high shelves, for assurances that their scraped-up knees will be OK. They will trust you because, in their eyes, you are all-knowing.
5. I am inspired. Somehow, even though you’re aware you know much more than the children before you, you also realize you know nothing at all. You may have been around children before, but until they are of your own blood, you don’t really engage with them. There is no investment until they bear striking resemblance to the kid brother or sister you grew up with all those years. Only then do you embrace their little bodies with true emotion. Only then do you see the world as they see it—this magical, mystical place of discovery and optimism and possibility. Only then do you really forget yourself—even just for the minutes or hours you spend together—and learn what it’s like to be consumed by another human. That—that overwhelming love and wonder that trumps petty stresses and distractions—is inspiring.
A few weeks ago, my sister and Willy brought the boys down for a visit and when they left, I said to my fiancé, “I can’t even remember what was on my to-do list today.” It’s perspective, I guess. A reminder of what’s truly important. That’s what they give you.
Kim Hooper | Copywriter & Novelist | Also, my sister