Niece turned five yesterday.
Five years ago, I was sleeping in a tangerine room, pregnant with a poppy and had a very broken foot. Husband dropped me off at the hospital and we sat.
And sat some more.
Morning turned to afternoon, which then stretched into evening. It grew late and Mom said, more than once, that we were welcome to go home. I would not leave, nor would Husband. Why leave? There was a baby on the way!
And what a baby she was. The toddler could run as fast as her brother, eat more vegetables than her cousins, and sing the loudest- so her Woooo can hear her from the back. When LMC came into this world, they instantly had a best friend in each other. Niece would crawl over to LMC on the floor and pat her head or lay down next to her, cuddling up close with her arm around her newest cousin. Of course, this first-time mother would get wide eyed and hope that this intimate moment between cousins would end expeditiously.
Niece keeps us on our toes. She is stubborn. Stubborn and defiant. Stubborn, defiant, and sweet. Sweet and loving. Sweet, loving, generous, and so very giving.
The other day, Mom picked up Niece from school. Mom needed the expertise of a four year old in the rubber band loom department. Niece had a special loom like her brother's -- which is all the rage now-- and Mom wanted to make sure LMC had one. From the backseat, Niece opened her book bag to get her money out. She wanted to buy it for LMC since she didn't have one.
Recently, I have discovered just how bratty a 4.5 year old can be with the last name that starts with "C" and ends with -agle. Whining about this and that, or that someone got the bigger whatever, Niece is quick to quell her cousin by trading with her, or holding her hand when LMC has been wronged.
They are thick as thieves at school, ever the protector of the other, ever the friend the other needs. The teacher has tried to separate them, not from bad behavior (which has happened-- but we won't go there), but so they can make new friends. These new friends quickly become their new friends and the girls are again reunited.
I get to see this- I get to see this precious niece of mine grow up. I get to watch her interact with her godfather, my sweet husband. I get to see the good and the bad of having children so close in age who have two sets of parents, instead of just one. Not from lack of love leading to divorce, rather so much love leading to aunts and uncles treating those nieces and nephews as their own.
This to say, about a month ago- Niece told SIL that she did not want to come over to our house anymore to play, because "RaRa and BooBoo are mean. They don't let us do anything." All I could do was laugh. She's right and I have since tried to loosen my strictness about what goes on in this house.
We do have more time outs over here, this is true, and they have to clean up their messes with a little more speed than at SIL's house, but these are just the differences in parenting- and both kids probably need a good heaping dose of how the other lives. LMC could stand to see parents who are a little more laid back.
Niece is amazing. She is humbling and frustrating and awe inspiring. She wants to be a gymnast when she grows up and flips herself into all sorts of crazy positions that I never knew possible. She is as skinny as a minute and loves her brand new American Girl doll. Her blonde bangs hang just over her baby blue eyes and those thick dark lashes. Her smarts are never ending. She is quick to give a hug.
She is quick to love.
She is as wild as March hare. And she is, for better or worse, good or bad, devil or angel, ours.
Happy Birthday, Niece. I love you to the moon and back and will always be your champion. Thank you for being nobody else but you.