(First off: yes, week six of the writing group is up.)
I love being a crazy auntie. It's like having rental kids without all the difficulties of ownership. And I've talked a lot in the past about my eight year-old nephew B., who is crazy, exhausting, imaginative, frustrating, and excellent.
But today is niece T.'s ninth birthday, so this is her day.
I don't talk about T. much, but it's not because she's not worth bragging about. It's because she reminds me so much of myself at that age (though she has tons more self-confidence than I ever had at her age) that I feel like I'm talking about myself, which feels weird.
T. is by turns a silly kid and way more serious than most of my university students. If you read to her, she appears to be scowling. I used to worry about this, until I figured out that this was her "intense concentration" look. When I go back to Puddletown and we have "her" day, in which we can do Anything! She! Wants!, she picks things like the art museum, local historic attraction, or bookstore (I keep waiting for the day she says "zoo!" or "beach!", but that has yet to happen). Last August, when we went to the bookstore, she said, "Aunt Notorious... What's a novel?" I told her, then asked why. "My teacher says I should start reading novels, so maybe we can get one." She takes her hot chocolate made with soy milk, likes broccoli, and enjoys learning how to do things like cross her eyes (the teaching of which skills are traditionally left to the Spinster Aunt). She can also totally rock a pair of boots.
In the last year, she has learned to use chopsticks, gone to her first sleepaway summer camp, and dealt with being left to entertain herself while her parents worked with the two much more labor-intensive foster babies.
Happy Birthday, T. Auntie Notorious thinks you are awesome, and will only continue to get greater with every passing year.