My nephew just turned two. He is old enough to have strong opinions about what he wants to do. Although he can’t fully articulate things yet, he says the odd word here and there; pulls out specific toys to play with or books to read; points to things he wants; gives big grins when he’s eating food he likes.
Since I live in a different state and don’t get to see him as often as I would like, I’ve resolved that when I do see him I want to spend quality auntie time. This means playing with him with 100% of my attention – reading books, cutting up Velcro fruit and building things to knock them down again.
Here’s one thing I learned: he could tell if I was distracted. He would frequently look at me after he did something, checking to see how I was reacting. Even if I wasn’t on my phone, I would sometimes get distracted by another conversation, or getting lost in my own thoughts.
While I’m pretty good at not using my phone in conversations or keeping it out of sight most of the time, he taught me that there is still something I could learn around keeping my attention continuously focused on enjoying someone’s company without thinking about what’s for dinner or the housework I would need to do or whether I’ve gotten a new message.
And what a gift to have the full attention of a tiny human who wants nothing to do but to play with me! I got teary eyed a few weeks ago thinking of a far-off future when my nephew would be old enough to not want to play with me as much.
(It also made me feel guilty about my own aunts and uncles. The way I dote on my nephew is also the way they likely doted on me, over 30 years ago. And now I don’t even call them! Here’s to keeping in better touch with my family.)