Sunday, February 24, 2013

He'll be coming 'round the mountain

What is it about boys? I don't understand them, I don't think I ever will. As my paternal grandfather has said in the past, men and women are different species. I think he says that with some degree of seriousness. Sometimes I believe him.

I don't often feel like I can connect with the men in my life on much more than a superficial level. We can make small talk, occasionally base conversations on mutual interests (however rarely; i.e. I don't like sports), complain about some of the same things, etc. But with some exceptions (i.e. my dad), men will always be an enigma. They're cool, interesting, even fascinating. But they just confound me.

That's why I'm excited to announce on my blog - maybe I've mentioned it in passing already, but I'm particularly enthusiastic now in using it as the basis of an entry - that I will soon be an auntie for the second time to a lovely little boy.

When my niece was in the womb (and before she was old enough to have her gender definitively labeled), for some reason I assumed she would be male. When my dad and I were predicting the sex many months in advance, I was almost entirely sure of it. I wanted her to be a boy, in fact. But looking back, I'm glad I got to practice my auntie-ing skills on a girl, especially one as adorable as my niece. She's tested my patience at times, but reminded me how much I'm capable of loving someone even when I'm responsible for cleaning up their diapers and being swatted at when I wipe their face after they eat. And being a girl, I've felt an indescribable kinship with her. Not just because we're family, of course, but because we share some inherent traits in that we're both female.

Now I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking even more forward to meeting my nephew for the first time. While I won't be home for the birth, I will be returning soon thereafter and getting a chance to interact with a brand new newborn.

How strange to think that two years ago I was in this same place. Waiting and watching social media for that moment when my sister would be off to the hospital.

My excitement probably sounds strange. You don't often hear about aunts and uncles eagerly anticipating the births of their nieces or nephews. That's the job of the parents or the grandparents. Well color me strange, but this is something I've been looking forward to more than anything else.

There are great things on the horizon for me. Lately I've been trying to improve myself in as many ways as I can. I've been conscious of arguments and outbursts I have, keeping them to a minimum and attempting to maintain healthy and communicative relationships with people I care about. I've been applying to internships, hoping to work out my plans for the summer. I'm looking to possibly return to London for another quarter if possible - whenever that may be - because I know it's where my heart belongs. I've been doing my work as best I can, focusing on my studies and my responsibilities whenever possible. And I've been treating myself to time off. Lots of time off during which I can just sit back, relax and hope to God that the status quo of my life can be maintained.

But what I've been most looking forward to - what keeps me in high spirits even during a challenging moment in my personal development - is knowing that in less than a month I'll be holding a beautiful little baby boy in my arms who I can call my nephew.

I'm gushing now, I realize. But there is a reason, other than just the addition of a new member to my family, that excites me about this forthcoming nephew of mine.

He's a boy. And as I mentioned earlier, I just don't understand boys.

I've had nothing but trouble in this department. Even when things have seemed to work out for me with men, I've always returned back to square one and had to continue on the search hoping that things pan out better under future circumstances. After failed relationships, I've looked inwardly hoping that I could square things away so that I wouldn't have destructive romantic interactions anymore. I've limited who I have crushes on, pursued those that I do, prevented myself from making rash decisions and constantly checked my back to make sure I wasn't doing anything stupid. On a personal level, I think I've been doing what I need to for myself.

But maybe that doesn't align with the male gender. Because no matter how hard I've tried, I've never found a guy who respected me in every way. And I guess that's just hard for me to wrap my head around.

So now I look at my nephew as a sort of case study. He'll be my first true insight into the developing mind of a bouncing baby boy. With all his quirks, eccentricities, sweetness and gruffness (I'm assuming he'll have all four), I hope to at least gain a little bit of extra knowledge about why it is that I have never been able to meet any male (again, other than my father) half way.

I want to teach him so much. I hope to be a positive presence in his life. I want to expose him to Disney movies and musical theater (sorry, Matt) so that when he's older and girls he likes inevitably are interested in those things, he won't be thrown for a loop. I want to be there for him as an auntie so he will always trust me as someone in his life who will love him unconditionally.

Because as rude as it may be to say this, I don't really have that with my aunts and uncles. And I envy those who do. And I want to be what I never was lucky enough to have - the auntie my niece and nephew can count on. The kind of older relative who will never judge them and treat them like they're inferior or uncared for.

Beyond teaching, though, I want to learn about him. I want to see how he grows, to learn what makes him tick, to discover things about him and study him so that he becomes less of an enigma.

In a way, I knew what I was getting into when my sister gave birth to my niece. As a female, I find girls an easy study. We may be complex, but our temperaments are pretty standardized. But how will my nephew be different?

I can't wait to learn these things. And I hope in some way that I can fashion a better understanding of the other half of the human race as a result. Because as of now, I've got nothing.

So if you should ever read this, my little nephew, I hope you will recognize what a blessed appearance you will be making in my life. I am so thankful for you, so looking forward to your arrival, so hopeful for all the beauty you will add to my life by just being born. Your sister did just that and I'm glad to get to know you next.

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