I’ll never forget the moment when she saw her younger brother crawling on all fours and declared, “Aunty look, boys are like monkeys!”. It was hilarious. I’m talking about my four year old niece who I spent a good portion of this past weekend with. Her brother is two and we were at a family lunch when she made this declaration that had everyone, including her mom, laughing out loud.
Soon after that all the women at the table found themselves in a deep feminist discussion about how my niece’s views were actually not too far off from reality. Sorry boys, but sometimes ya’ll do push the limits…hehe. Perhaps four years old is not the time to be finding out that eventually, you might meet a man so afraid of commitment that he appears to leap from tree to tree in search of something he’s not entirely sure of…but I digress
Spending time with my niece was amazing, yet confusingly polarizing. On one hand I was so happy to be in the company of a child’s pure joy. We played with balloons, ate ice-cream, watched cartoons, she showed me how to play her guitar, we tried on lipgloss…It was literally the most fun I’ve had in ages. But as I watched her frolic in her innocence I couldn’t help but wish she would stay four years old forever.
At one point I found myself worrying about the life tragedies which haven’t even happened to her yet. I wished she would stay at this age where she doesn’t have to concern herself with having her heart broken, multiple times. I wondered what it would be like to stay forever four; where she didn’t have to worry about life, dreams deferred, career uncertainty, the emptiness associated with loss - of hope, friends,…and perhaps someday the glimmer in her eye. I know, spoken like a true pessimist :(.
Eventually I snapped out of my warped thought process and brought myself back to reality. I looked over at her face, freshly painted with stars and rainbows and just like that, I felt that child-like joy creep back into my bones. I forgot about my own problems for a while, and steered out of the territory where I had found myself projecting my shortcomings into her future.
I guess the best I can do for now is enjoy her company. And pray that she will grow up to make wise decisions, stay joyful, and be so much more than I will ever become.
(P.S I had a bad case of insomnia this past week, and reluctantly joined Instagram. I know, sigh. Follow me @joeymuthengi and check out the pic of me and my niece trying to act en-vogue. Super fun times).