I babysat for Erin and her little sister Megan, my brother John's daughters, last night. While most of the fun came from our viewing of Lady and the Tramp, rounds of Candy Land and playing with their dollhouse, I was fully entertained by the wisdom that exudes in my niece. Erin and Kegan had a lively conversation about their favorite fruits (Erin's is watermelon, because it's especially enjoyable on a hot summer day. Her words). She also instructed him how to properly deal with his allergies (don't rub your eyes, that only makes it worse; just blink them rapidly) and presented me with nail clippers after I helped her brush her teeth. I was a bit taken back by that (little kids' nails are so short!) and clarified that she wanted me to cut her nails. "No, I think you should cut yours." And she's right...mine are due for a trim!
This is not a case so much of "kids say the darndest things", but an example of how my niece is an old soul. I remember holding her in the hospital when she was born, and turning to my brother and sister-in-law and saying, "She looks like she has a lot to say." Erin has proven that prescient insight to be true. Although she's actually reserved and initially shy, and in that sense totally reminds me of myself as a child, when she speaks, she commands you listen. Last night I laid with her as she and Megan were falling asleep. They share a trundle bed, with Megan on the top and Erin on the bottom. Megan's hand kept hanging off the side of the bed, and Erin could tell she was reaching out for her big sister. Erin, in her tiny, delicate voice, whispered, "I can hold your hand, Megan," and held her sister's hand as she drifted off to sleep. I smiled in the darkness, overwhelmed by the wisdom and warmth of my wonderful niece. She reminds me a lot of my mom. I see a lot of my mom in Erin, physically and spiritually. I've seen pictures of my mom from her childhood, and Erin looks a lot like her. But she also has my mom's spirit-- quiet, kind, gentle and smart. I am so thankful for Erin, and thankful for my brother John and sister-in-law Stacie who are nurturing the development of this dynamic little person. She may already have an old soul, but I love watching her grow up.
My favorite picture of my ever-classy niece