I'm spending a few days at my sister's place in lovely, metropolitan Staunton, Illinois (population 234 + me...actually I think there's about 5000 people who live here) keeping an eye on my four year old niece while her parents work for a few days up in Chicago. My niece's name is Erin, and her energy level is just a little bit less than the equivalent of three thousand atomic bombs. Last night she went to sleep around 10:30, and was waking me up for breakfast at 6 this morning. She has spent the last three hours showing me every single thing in this house that she can play with, and I'm certain that if she was just a wee bit stronger, she'd be rearranging the furniture in every room as well.
And I'm loving every second of it, because while she has been as active as the sun since I've been here (late yesterday afternoon), she has also been well behaved. She loves bacon, and as I am standing over the stove this morning with my eyes three-quarters shut cooking on sound alone, she comes up to me and says "So, anything I can do to help?" Um, sure, could you look over the tax returns and make sure they are correct?
It's pushing 80 here today, and she just got a new bike, so we shall be venturing outside here soon. I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't looking forward to the point in time this afternoon where she passes out for a little while (I am one of the best uncles in history when it comes to getting kids to nap) but up until then, we get to do anything we want.
I cannot pretend that I live a life chock full of stress, at least not for the last year and a half, but there is still a lesson or two in priorities when you get the chance to spend some time one on one with a toddler. I know that doing this 24/7 is A LOT different than doing it for a few days, but just the idea of having someone so young around you every day is intriguing, to help that person get started, form their personality, and guide them.
I can't wait.