Stephen, Bronwen and I went to Auckland over Queen’s birthday weekend to help my niece Esther celebrate her first birthday. Esther and her older sister Iris (who is just about to turn 3) are lovely girls and I am really enjoying watching them grow up, albeit mostly from a distance.
Iris is a feisty wee thing and likes to try her parents’ patience. Favourite activities include squealing at the top of her lungs, fully undressing as often as possible, stealing food (poor Bronwen coped this one) and the odd bit of biting. But beyond the less desirable personality characteristics, Iris is a charming and engaging little girl. She talks heaps and knows a lot about the world around her. She is confident and cheerful and happy to go with the flow. Esther is very different from Iris. She is a very placid kid. While we were there, she seemed content to putter around the house behind the Iris-Bronwen-Tornado, happily playing. She’s very cute and cuddly – I was reminded how nice it is to have a small child crawl into your lap, and hold on for a snuggle.
The other fun and interesting aspect of this visit is that I was able to meet up with my sister Gillian, whom I have not seen since my own children were babies. Gillian has been in Japan for most of the 15-odd years since I last saw her. That, plus the fact that she’s always been a bit reclusive and not well-inclined towards me has meant that even when we have been in the same city and country, we haven’t caught up. It was nice to chat. Gillian and Iris have a special bond that only they understand (my sister never expressed any interest in children in any way). It is very endearing.
I find that the older I get, the more I appreciate that my family is an important part of my life. When I left home at the tender age of 16, babe under my arm, I decided that I would make a family of my own – I felt disillusioned by my family of origin. I stayed that way all through my twenties and thirties. And now, almost in my forties, I am gaining a new appreciation of that strange assorted bunch of people I call my kin. I might even call it fondness, but let’s not go crazy.