I come from a large extended family. My mom is the 2nd oldest of 7 children. More than 15 years separate her and the youngest sibling, my aunt. When I was little, I remember my very cool, young aunt coming to visit us every so often. With me on one side and my younger sister on the other side, we would walk around hand in hand, as she took us shopping, bought us treats, and basically spoiled us for the two weeks that she stayed with us.
Eventually, my aunt got married and had children of her own. I became, to her children, what she was to me. I went on many trips to visit them, and I looked forward to spending time with my much younger cousins, taking them shopping, buying them treats, and spoiling them for the next couple of weeks.
Eventually, I got married and had children of my own. These past two weeks, my aunt and her family have spent their vacation here with us. Her daughters, who I used to take to the mall as my mini-me’s, are now young women: one is in college and the other is a senior in high school. They now have become, to my children, what I was to them.
Parting was not easy, especially for my daughter. In the few days that they were with us, she had grown very attached to her aunties. I had never seen her cry over the departure of any visitors until now.
What I love about all these relationships, from my aunt to me to my cousins and now to my daughter, is they display a strong bond between people who are many years (even a generation) apart. The reason for such deep relationships is because the older has taken the time to be with the younger.
When children are sometimes made to feel dismissed by the grown-ups, my cousins did the exact opposite. They spent time with my children, coloring with them, doing crafts, playing games, going shopping, and talking with them. As a child, when a grown-up takes notice of you, enough to spend time with you, that is truly special.
One day, my daughter will become the young woman, and I pray that she would have the opportunity to be, to a little girl, what my aunt was to me … what I was to my cousins … and what her aunties are to her. I pray she would be willing to give to younger girls and show them just how special they are.
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