Have a niece day

Enjoying kids as much as I do and not having any of my own doesn’t create as many problems as you might think.

I have plenty of “nephews” and “nieces” from a variety of friends, where I am most often given the “Uncle Jeffrey” treatment.  But I only have two authentic nieces.

As most parents experience, my nieces enjoyed time with me more when they were younger and their desires less mall-oriented, but we still get to spend time together…once in a while.

Having once been a teen myself (before the meteor struck the earth), I recall how “boring” adults began to seem as I got older.  In some ways, my time with my nieces makes me a little more understanding of what Moms and Dads must go through as their kids grow up.

We’ve had a variety of fun times, from the simple (movie and food) to the more involved (theme parks and trips).  Sometimes, they’re a hit, like the times we’ve gone to the big water park.  Other times haven’t been as successful, such as the Museum of Science visit (gee, I remembered it as much more impressive when I was a kid…must be that computer animation is getting to be more thrilling than real life).

My older niece (by around three years), has some similar tastes to me, liking comics, bowling and fishing, so that lends itself to more things we can share without the big magilla.  My younger niece shares some different things in common, such as books (although our reading material tends to differ).  And, of course, they find enough things to disagree about to create a wonderful tension between the two so that periods of prolonged peace can be interspersed with short moments of irritating intolerance.  Ah, combining the teen years with being siblings…a rich stew indeed!

I think it’s fascinating the part of human observation that comes from these (sadly) less frequent get-togethers.  As the “parent” figure, I enjoy both the time together and the dynamics of the group.  The kids tend to take away only the immediacy of the event.  Typical, I think, as most teens live in the moment.

This week, there was to be a fishing trip with Dad (Grandpa) and my older niece, but Dad called earlier and feared the winds would make the day too choppy for her, so we may push back until next week.

This weekend, though, I’ll be driving that same niece and her girlfriend up to Orlando for a big convention (Megacon) where they hope to meet their favorite anime voice actor (among other wanderings and purchases).  She has asked her sister if she wants to go, too, but the initial response seems to be little enthusiasm.

Still, if she did want to go, it wouldn’t be the first time I took them and friends out someplace.   They do tend to get a bit…rambunctious…in the car, but fortunately the travel time was never more than an hour and a half.  Thankfully they are teenagers, so I don’t have to do the herding action thing.  On the other hand, taking four teenage girls anywhere causes me to be extra wary when eying boys who might be eying the girls.  I don’t have a shotgun, but I have a sharp mouth, which amounts to much the same thing, if needed.

The girls are shortly to become women and so, like many parents, my time with them will dwindle to an occasional phone call and stray visit.  And while you could always wish for this thing or that to be just a bit better done, I’m proud of the way they’ve grown and look forward to seeing them successful in life.

And I’m thankful both for the time I’ve had with them and the fact my car is big enough to allow three teenage girls enough room in the backseat for long drives.  Although, I’ve never tested them for the three-plus hours we’ll need to get to Orlando on Saturday, so maybe it’s just as well both nieces (and friends) don’t want to go.

The car could take it, I’m sure.  Me?  Not sure at all!

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