A little over a year ago, I decided to move down to Florida and live with my sister Colleen, her husband Nick, and their two kids Ella and Ryan. You know how people say that kids turn your world upside down? Well, it’s true. They’re loud, rude, careless, exhausting and rarely listen to a thing you say, but letting little kids into my life is one of the best things I’ve ever done.
For starters, they’re hilarious. For example, Colleen was driving Ella to school one day, and they passed by a police car that had pulled someone over. Ella asked why the police officer pulled over the other car, and Colleen told her it was because they were driving fast. There was dead silence in the car for a good 10 seconds until Ella finally said, “But Mom, you drive fast.”
Kids are also adorable. I took Ryan for a walk and passed by a house that was redoing their backyard. Ryan asked why, and I told him it was because they wanted to make their backyard look beautiful. He asked if it would be beautiful, like Mommy, Ella, Auntie (myself), Oma (German for grandma), and his cousin Cora. I told him yes, to which he responded with another “why?” I paused, trying to think of an explanation that a four-year-old would understand, and went with what I thought Colleen and Nick might say. I told him it’s because God made us all beautiful. His response still brings a smile to my face. He threw his hands up in the air and shouted out “yay” the loudest he could with a huge grin on his face.
The best part about being with them is watching them grow up little by little. I remember when I met them for the first time. Ella was the first baby I ever held, and I remember wondering how it was possible to love something so little so fast. Her tiny hand couldn’t even wrap around my finger, and I couldn’t wait to watch her grow into a beautiful little girl. Now that she is one, I can’t wait to continue watching her grow. Today she loves LOL dolls and unicorns, and her favorite food is hamburgers. She has about five favorite colors; she’s bossy, sassy, silly, funny and creative. There’s no telling what she’ll love tomorrow and how her personality will continue to develop.
Ryan has grown even more than Ella. He has a minor speech delay, and when I first got here, he could barely pronounce single words correctly. Today, Ryan is trying to tackle full sentences, and he’s getting better and better at pronouncing them each day. Before, if you were to ask him what his favorite things were, he would give the same answers as Ella. Today, he can tell you that his favorite foods are apples and chicken nuggets, his favorite color is green, and he loves dinosaurs and trucks, especially garbage trucks. He’s sweet, strong-willed, intelligent, caring and highly perceptive.
Growing up, I had some aunts who lived far away, and I didn’t have the chance to get to know them until I got older. I didn’t want Ella and Ryan to remember me that way. I want to play an important role in their lives and teach them what Colleen and Nick couldn’t. I want them to know how much I love them in their bones and that I’m always here for them. I’m proud and honored to be their aunt, and I would do anything for them. They’ll continue to grow and develop into their own person, and I want to be here to see it all.