Thursday, November 02, 2006

A First Birthday

My nephew just celebrated his first birthday--well, his parents celebrated his birthday, as he was too little to realize the significance of the occasion himself--and it is almost startling to me to realize that he has not always been an integral part of my life, for years and years and years. For me and for everyone else in the family, it almost seems as if he has been with us forever, an indication of how important he has become to all of us.

He already has his own character and his own personality, and I can see in him traits from both his mother and his father, as well as traits from my mother and my father. He is, however, uniquely himself, individual and treasurable and one-of-a-kind.

Between his birth and the end of May, I would get to see him at least one weekend a month, because every three or four weeks I would travel from Washington to New York to visit him and his parents. Because babies grow so fast, he would always be noticeably different each time I saw him; an interval of three or four weeks made a substantial difference in his development.

Now that I am back home in the Twin Cities, I have only seen my nephew twice: for a long visit over July 4th, when my brother and his family came home to visit for ten days; and for a short visit over Labor Day, when my brother and his family came home to visit for five days.

I love my nephew very much and I miss him very much, and I am exceedingly anxious for Christmas to arrive, because that will be the next time I will get to see him. I am almost of a mind to cancel the trip to Northern Germany so that I might get to see him over Thanksgiving.

I love to hold him, and I love to rock him, and I love to feed him his bottle, and I love to feed him his cereal, and I love to play with him, and I love to show him his toys, and I love to watch as he discovers new things, and I love to observe how excited he gets when he discovers that he can do new things.

Of course, everyone else in the family loves to do these things, too, and we all have to take turns, sharing these special privileges. My middle brother has proven himself to be an extraordinary uncle. I never thought of my middle brother as being tender and baby-friendly, necessarily, but I can see how much my brother loves to hold and to care for his nephew and to look out for him, and it allows me to observe the kind and sweet and gentle side of my brother's disposition.

My middle brother and Josh and I discussed, for weeks and weeks, what we were going to give our nephew for his birthday. Naturally, we knew, from the beginning, that we were going to give him toys of some kind, but we discussed among ourselves, daily, in great detail, what particular toys to get him. We pondered, and we analyzed, and we agonized, and we consulted with our parents, and we consulted with our brother and his wife, until we finally settled on what we thought would be perfect birthday presents for him. Between the three of us, we got him a big stuffed dog (because he is fascinated by our family dog, Rex) and a big fire truck he can climb into and zoom around in his living room and a set of large, colorful plastic balls he can kick around his living room.

His mother reports that he loves our gifts, and plays with them all the time (although it may be two or three more months before he is coordinated enough to make full use of the fire truck).

We are already in deep discussions about what toys to get him for Christmas! We will be on the lookout for interesting toys while we are in Germany.

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