We spent last weekend celebrating the very special and very unordinary first birthday of my gorgeous little nephew. The young man himself was rather unimpressed by all of the fuss, and mostly seemed to be wondering why all these extra people were in his house, but Elma at least was forgiven the intrusion when she shared her plate of breadsticks and baby snacks with him, and all of those over the age of one seemed to have a wonderful time celebrating this lovely little boy.
But the moments I most treasure aren’t the party and the balloons, the cake (oh so much wonderful cake) and spending time with the people we love, though those were all special too, so much as quietly watching my eldest daughter.
Kitty is for the most part a very typical three year old at the moment; she’s buzzing from morning to night, asking a hundred and one “why?” questions, and being both intensely frustrating and adorably wonderful in equal measure. And with that she is also a great big sister to Elma. She looks out for Elma, shares her toys and treats, sometimes with a little prompting, and still hates it when Elma gets sad, or angry-sad, even if it’s because Kitty has removed something from her grasp on the basis that “she’s ruining it Mummy!”. As Elma gets more and more mobile they’re starting to play together more and more and it’s a lovely relationship to watch blossom.
I know first hand how Kitty and Elma respond to each other, and even Kitty and the small nephew, but what was lovely to watch was Kitty interacting with the marauding hoards of other one year olds at the party.
She fetched them toys and stroked their cheeks, threw the ball to them in the garden (admittedly with more enthusiasm than accuracy), and was most often found in another room chatting away to someone else’s slightly bemused baby. I think a fair few of them got a very good sense about what it would be like to have a big sister for a day. I know it sounds like she was being a bit bossy but it was actually really sweet; she wasn’t telling them what to do so much as looking out for them.
I’ve always loved the mantra that says you should never take too much of the blame or too much of the praise for your children’s actions, mainly because it’s a huge comfort when you’re getting the stink eye from someone two checkouts over while not one but both your children have a wailing meltdown in the supermarket, but the praise part of it is true too. I don’t take credit for the way Kitty acts with the little ones; it’s just a part of her personality, something in her make up that makes her want to take care of people, but it doesn’t mean that I’m not prodigiously proud of her, and why I want to save the compliments that were paid to her so that when she’s old enough to read this little moment in our family story she can know how much her Auntie’s friends and family thought she was lovely; how it was obvious to anyone watching that she has a nurturing soul, how hearing that made me smile with joy, and most importantly how it earned her several extra slices of cake from more than one honorary auntie.