I have some pretty terrific nieces and nephews; eight, in fact. Every time I go home, they are affectionate and friendly, which has surprised me because there have been times when months go by between visits. I have to give alot of credit to my parents and siblings for keeping me present in the kids' lives. It would be very easy for them to be a little distant from me when they don't really know me except for what they hear and the stories my family tells.
But with every trip home, I am greeted with shouts, warm hugs and homemade presents, be them crafts or just pictures torn from a colouring book: I have a small woven basket that serves as my change holder, a coffee mug with bugs drawn on it I use as a pencil holder, a flower refrigerator magnet, countless portraits, and thank you cards for every birthday card or present I have ever sent them.
I talk alot about my siblings alot, but I don't mention their children and how proud I am of them. It is harder to be away from my nephews and nieces now than it was when they were children. They email me now and tell me about new pet turtles, or homeruns, or good grades. Every time I travel home, one of them seems to have grown a foot taller.
Kim has two sons (John 22 and Seth 20), Matt has four sons (Shaene 25, Bjorn 15, Ethan 13, and Liam 9), and Mike has two daughters (ages Jordan 11 and Mikayla 6). Each child is very unique in much the same ways Kim, Matt, Mike and I were. They all have very different interests, so my parents - who used to have to attend games, plays and concerts for 4 kids - now have to do double time for 8 grandchildren.
And as cousins, they treat each other more like brothers and sisters because they are around each other so often. They fight, argue, debate, and laugh together. They all get along extremely well and they are kind to one another. One of the funny things, though, is that each of my siblings has a child that is his/her splitting image; so it's like watching them all grow up again. And as I will never have a child of my own, these are my children in a way. And I think I've done a pretty good job.