For the next few days, I get to be an aunt (and a sister, and sister-in-law). I know I’m lucky to be an aunt, even though I bemoan the fact that I only see her once or twice a year (and I see other nieces/nephews/great-nephews much less frequently). I also know that right now, it is a privilege to be living in NZ, where we don’t have COVID-19 in the community, and so when school holidays arrive (the winter two-week break has just begun), people can travel, stay with friends and family, and socialise. So I don’t know what my suddenly (it feels like) 12-year-old niece will want to do the next few days, but there’s possibly a trip to the zoo (or will she think she’s too old for that?), to Te Papa (our national museum), some walks, definitely some shopping (there’s a birthday present to purchase together), and some eating out.
It’s always strange to meet up with nieces and nephews as they grow into pre-teens and teens. I love that age, when we can have interesting discussions about all sorts of things. So I’m looking forward to that. But it makes me feel old too, because it doesn’t feel that long ago that I was a teenager!
I know I’ll be exhausted at the end of the week after their visit. But I know I’m lucky to have another niece to get to know at that age. I was thinking recently about another niece that I had a close relationship through her pre-teens and teens, as I used to be able to visit her and her parents in Singapore on my way to/from international business trips, and they also used to come back to NZ every year. I was often the chief “clothes buyer” with my niece, preparing her for her next year at school (she was in international schools as an expat), and she had an active interest in international relations, so we would talk a lot about different issues. Now she’s almost 30 (!), is not a regular or particularly forthcoming correspondent, and whilst we are great when we see each other in person, we don’t share our lives in the same way as 10 years ago. That change was sad for me for a while, but now I’m okay with it. I know that for a while, I was a very special person in her life. And she was (and still is) in mine. I’m hoping to have a similar relationship with littlest niece, but I know I can’t force it. Still, I will enjoy seeing her grow, and be grateful for that.