When my younger sister had her first baby, just five months after I had my first, I thought I wanted it to be a girl. I had a girl. I had sisters. They would be like sisters. I thought this would be cool.
Then she had a boy.
From that first moment I peaked in on him in the hospital nursery, I was taken. My gut got a jolt. Oh, so it is you. That is why you are a boy. You are you. And you are what we have always needed.
I was so in love with that little shit with skinny long but scrunched up frog like legs. How could something so out of what I was imagining be so right? So good? How could I love this kid so freaking much so fast? But I did.
Jackson William has had my heart from day one.
My little girl and my sister’s little boy were like brother and sister, a relationship I never had and never could have imagined. They never knew anything different. To this day they make each other laugh when nobody else knows what they are talking about, they call each other out on things they would take anyone else out for saying, and they can hang for days without a blow out and only get closer from it. It is one of the most authentically rich and for lack of a better work, cool, relationships I have had the privilege of witnessing.
When the kids were about three or so we went to the mall with those two packed in their strollers. This mall had one of those tiny little parks in the middle of nowhere. The ones I swore, before I had kids of my own, that were nothing but petri dishes of germs, and I would never allow MY children within 10 feet of them. Then my sister and I are trying to have a conversation with two whiny and loud three years olds who spot said park. Needless to say, I’ve spent many a hour at those petri dishes.
This particular time I remember my sister and I tag teaming while we tried to continue our conversation. She’d be helping one on the slide, I be helping the other one on the bouncy turtle. Whatever. All was fine and dandy until I looked up and saw my nephew at the top of the slide. Some * %$# older kid grabbed my nephew by his hair. (And let me just say, this kids had, and still has, a head of hair any woman would kill for. Already at three, it was a full mop of beauty) Anyway this big &*^$ kid grabs my nephew by his hair and starts to pull him down the slide. At that moment my sister was off with my daughter and didn’t see what was happening. She didn’t really have to because the noise that came out of me gave her a good enough heads up. Holy crap, it was a noise I never knew lived inside of me. It was deep, guttural and it scared the living daylights out of &^*% kid. I got myself together and I gave the big kid a little talking to as I held my nephew close. We survived it together.
I think I remember this moment so vividly because it woke me up to something I kinda sorta knew but didn’t really fully get. I knew when I had my first little lady that it had all brought me to that moment. Being her mom was what my life was about. All part of the greater good kind of thing. It was always her (and the two that followed ) What I had not realized was it was the same for my nephew (and the four that followed). Just as much as I was meant to be Grace’s mom and just as much as my sister was meant to be Jackson’s mom…….I was also meant to be his aunt. We were connected and linked together forever. Something I will never take lightly.
Now this kid is thirteen. He is still a skinny little shit. He has also turned into something I am having a hard time finding the words for. I am still taken by him but in ways, once again, I never saw coming.
He stops me in my tracks with his absurdly witty and smart ass humor. Wise ass doesn’t do him justice. He pushes the envelope and often finds himself in some trouble. That said, he really is ridiculously funny. He blows my mind with his beyond his years intuitiveness and ability to really see what is around him. This also can get him into trouble. There is a lot to see. Our world is broken and bleeding. At thirteen, actually at 41, this is not easy to navigate. But above all of this, the thing that literally awes me, is his creativity. I guess it shouldn’t be that surprising. Both his parents are artists on many levels. He grew up in it. However, his artist soul is just that, it his soul. It oozes out of him even when he doesn’t understand what is happening. His instinct to create and make things has been the “who” of who he is since forever.
He inspires me.
Thirteen is a funky age. I think there is little wiggle room with this fact. I remember this more than Grace and Jack would ever think was possible in my ancient years. They think at 41 that I have “grown up”. I got older, did the grown up things like get married, have kids, get a job. They may look at me as a finished product. Little do they know that I am growing up right along with them. They have no idea that I want to be like them when I grow up.
Watching Jackson push buttons with the very same qualities that hold his brilliance, is like watching life lessons in reverse. He is showing me that the very things that made me feel different and weird at thirteen, are exactly what I am learning to hold as my own brilliance today. Even more, the different and weird people are by far the coolest. They are exactly who I choose to be around today. If only I had known this at thirteen.
Jackson is the coolest and being his aunt has been one of the all time coolest things to ever happen to me. More than I could have imagined.
I want to hold him and his skinny ass, fluffy head self and tell him to root down NOW. Root into the different and weird now dude. We need your brilliant skinny ass to rise in this broken world. You are exactly what we have always needed.