My sisters are awesome (I only got to stay with the older one this trip). I know I don’t tell them that, which make me a bad person…no wait, perhaps just not perfect, human indeed, which was never been in question. But back to it, this is about my older sister, she’s great and her family is awesome as well.
We descended upon their home in full force after a long cross country flight. Jen could only stay a short while before she headed to a conference in NYC, which left me playing zone D with Katie and Jack in a full house – 2 kids, husband, 2 dogs, her parents and lastly me and my 2 kids. It’s a lot within a week filled with normal work and kid activities so I appreciate how much she made us feel welcome. Before I digress too deeply, let me mention her two girls – J soon to be 13 and M 10 years of age (about the same as Jack). I haven’t had near enough time spent with them to truly know them, but they continue to impress me. Artistic and smart beyond their years. At their age I cannot imagine having a pair of cousins like my kids descending upon your house and not feeling a little freaked out.
I don’t know how their parents, my sister and brother-in-law prepared them for us, but either they did a great job in prepping or a great job in raising – likely both. We felt very welcomed and Katie immediately made herself at home playing with all of their stuff and generally being so very 4 years old wanting to hang with the older girls. Jack had his typical ups and downs, luckily more up than down.
My sister has a huge basement guest/play room and we made ourselves right at home. Jack adjusted well to the new environs and timezone and I actually had some of the best 1 on 1 interactions with him in a long time at their house.
Back to my nieces, I still can’t wrap my head around what it might be like to have a boy enter your home who is very notably different from you, despite similar ages and backgrounds and yet so very different. He doesn’t talk, makes odd noises, and runs around crazily much of the time. Now, he’s staying in your basement, messing with your stuff. Yet they show him kindness, patience and somehow understanding beyond their years. Interacting with Jack is a challenge, even for his parents, but they did not avoid him and did their best to engage and ask him how he was.
For his dad (that’s me) they did the best thing I could have hoped for – entertained Katie. She had her fingers, toes and even arms and face painted and in general got to look up to the older girl cousins which she has never met [editors note: She met them when she was 6 weeks old]. She loves them. She talks all about them on the way to their house and after we leave. She sees what they do – art, dance, math and science. All of which, hopefully is a positive influence on her life so that she knows you can dance ballet on pointe in one minute and paint a picture the next or do a science experiment.
On the other side of the coin, I hope that Jack brings a positive influence to them (and I believe he has and does). Treating people who are different just as people is a great skill. I can’t say I was great at it throughout my life but I try and as I grow older I understand more about how important this is. J and M while still in their formative years (whatever that means), already have skills in this department well beyond whatever I had at their age despite my growing up in an area of our country where differently-abled people congregate. As an uncle I am proud of J and M, and the character they demonstrate and are developing. My sister and brother-in-law deserve praise for raising two such wonderful people. I only hope that my kids can know what great people surround them, and in time, that they can realize how they can also contribute positively to the world around them.