03 December, 2013

The joys of a niece

I have just spent the last four days visiting my sister, brother-in-law, and five-year-old niece.  Since I saw her before she has started school, and on Friday morning I was able to go to school with her, see her classroom and meet her teacher.  She read her reading homework to me (her mother realising they'd forgotten to do it the night before when we arrived) in the classroom, and I saw all these five-year-olds get onto the classroom computers to sign in for the day.  

We spent a busy weekend together, and we had some lovely bonding moments.  I read her bed-time stories, and taught her to play Noughts and Crosses.  She played teacher and I sat obediently on the mat, as she rapped her wand on the whiteboard easel to get my attention.  Her uncle (DH) filled her paddling pool and almost gave himself a hernia making waves in it, to her delighted giggles.  We watched Tangled and Rio with her (and probably enjoyed them more than she did).  And we took walks with her and Jeff The Dog.  I felt sad that we don't live closer, that she really doesn't have a strong sense of who we are.  

But I didn't come away with a sadness that we don't have a child.  Not really. I saw my sister struggle - struggle with working and time and energy, struggle with a five-year-old who knows what she wants and DOESN'T want, and struggle with the particular health concerns that come with this particular child.  And I didn't envy her.  I felt compassion for her.  And I wished I lived closer - to help out, babysitting or cooking meals - to help make their lives easier.  And to have the little one in our lives.  That said, getting home last night, to peace and quiet, was quite a relief.


  1. I agree with it all! We got to spend 3 weeks with my niece in October and I loved every minute of it! Just wish we could do so more often (they live in Europe and we live in NZ so it was only the second time we had seen her). I wish we could be more involved. Skype is a huge help in keeping the familiarity up but it is still not the same as being in the same room.

    1. I'm glad you got time with your niece. Apart from three grown nieces in NZ and Aus, the only school age niece in NZ is little CJ I just visited. All other nieces/nephews are overseas - 1 in Qatar, 1 in Japan, 2 in California, and 3 in Perth. And they rarely Skype, Sigh.

  2. You sound like a wonderful aunt (and I wish we lived closer too :-)

  3. I feel the same way with my sister in law.
    What a lovely Aunt you are <3

  4. Good to know you and DH had lovely time with her. :-) You're a really thoughtful aunt. Enjoy the peace and quiet! :-)

  5. I understand the longing to be closer. My brother lives across the county with my 3 nieces and nephew. Luckily, DH's 10 nieces and nephews are all close, though their parents don't ask for our help much. We do get to see them regularly. I wish I knew my nieces and nephews as well as I know DH's.

    Sounds like you had a lot of fun with your visit. Great memories for you, your DH, and your niece.

  6. So nice you got to spend that time with your niece. I've often said that if I knew earlier on that our two nephews were going to be "it," I would have made more of an effort to spend time with them and do more things with them. Don't get me wrong, I think we're a pretty doting aunt & uncle as it is ;) but there are many things we'll never get to do with our Katie that we might have been able to do with them, like school visits and Halloween trick or treating (but didn't). They aren't as far away as your niece sounds, but they're still an hour away, and it's difficult to see them outside of weekends. And now they're in their 20s, they have social lives that take precedence over their old auntie & uncle, & many of those opportunities are gone. Time goes by so quickly! (Maybe with the grandnieces & nephews, if/when they arrive??)

  7. I hear you. Distance is a factor for us, too. On the days I do get to spend time I appreciate the role of doting aunt. Will get 10 days in Ireland very shortly for the holidays but at 14 and 17 years old the joy today lies in seeing them grow into interesting young adults.

  8. I can really relate. There are several important kids in my life I wish I was closer to. We send little whatsapp videos/audio/photos back and forth, but it isn't the same as really helping a friend out so he/she only has to do one of the three pressing tasks on their plate.

    Glad that you can enjoy your niece so fully and see the fully reality of parenting. Hope your peace and quiet is lovely!

  9. I've never been a good aunt - don't even like being called aunt (and really dislike that now i'm a "great-aunt"). Not that i don't like the children. I just don't know them. My sis lived in Florida for most of the time she was raising her kids (and now in Kentucky), while we live in California. I didn't even meet her children until they came out for my wedding.

    My hubby has 2 nephews and 2 nieces who don't live as far away. They are only a couple of hours away, but we still rarely see the kids. We live in a wonderful area and have invited them, but no joy. I think it would be better for us to mentor a family near us. But finding that is a real challenge.

    How lovely you had this time to spend with your niece. Even if you aren't close enough to do it very often, you are creating a chain of lovely remembrances for her.