Things My Niece Taught Me

Madeline having some OJ (Powell's Books)It seems like only yesterday that my sister gave birth to a tiny baby girl, but today that baby girl turned seven years old. SEVEN! And in the seven years that Ms. Madeline has been my niece, just like her mother, her grandpa and her grandma, she’s taught me a thing or two.

Enjoy The Moment

Everyone says that having kids teaches you to stop and enjoy the simple things in life. When you see the wonder that a kid has as they look at the world, it reminds you to appreciate how wonderful and amazing things really are. When they ask questions about things that you don’t normally give a second thought to, they make you realize what you have been taking for granted. My niece was the first kid that I really had in my life that I have gotten to watch grow up from the time she was born, so she’s the first person that I’ve gotten to experience this with. Also, since I live so far away, I don’t get to see her nearly as often as I would like, and so when I do get to spend time with her, I treasure it. I treasure every conversation we have, no matter what it’s about. I treasure every smile, every laugh, every hug. I enjoy each moment that I get to be with her and I learn from her how to see the world with new eyes. I make sure that I’m really present in that moment, because I know that I’ll only get to have this moment with my niece once. She’s growing up so fast.

There Is Something Good and Pure in the World

When my niece was very small, I went through a really rough time in my life. And when I was really sad, I would think of my niece, a tiny sweet baby, and just thinking about her existence made me feel a little better, because I knew that there was something good and pure in the world. Someone so new, so full of potential. And that gave me hope.

A Surprising Number of Facts

I like to think of myself as a pretty intelligent gal who is well-informed on a broad array of topics. But hanging out with my niece, I always learn new things that I had no idea about before. Like what an okapi is. Or the meaning of the word “lugubrious.”  Which she taught me when she was four years old. For reals. Or that there are more than five kinds of dinosaurs. Seriously, when I was a kid, we were taught about five types of dinosaurs: Tyrannosaurus Rex, triceratops, stegosaurus, brontosaurus, and pterodactyls. Then Jurassic Park came along and we all learned about velociraptors. But if you go over to my sister’s house, it will not be long before my niece will sit you down with one of her two encyclopedias of dinosaurs and you’ll be learning about dozens and dozens of different kinds of prehistoric beasts. That kid is freaking smart.


Being Happy Makes Me Happy

After  I blogged my list of 100 Things That Make Me Happy, my sister suggested to my niece that she make a list of the things that makes her happy. I loved her list because it gave me insight into how she sees the world. And one of her items, in particular, really struck me. In amongst the other things that made her happy, she wrote “Being happy makes me happy.” So simple, yet so profound. It makes me think of Dr. Brown’s talk that I blogged about not too long ago (and which I can’t seem to stop talking about!), particularly the part about how we often squander our moments of joy by thinking “This is too good. When is the other shoe going to drop?” instead of just experiencing the joy. Rather than doing that, I’m striving to follow Madeline’s lead and just be happy about being happy.

I love you, Madeline. I hope you had a very, very happy birthday!


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