I don’t have kids. Don’t want any either. But I’m Godmother to one of my best friend’s 4 children, back-up Godmother to another one of her kids, I have lots of cousins (24 on my dad’s side of the family alone) who have kids – about 4 of whom whose lives I’m invested in – and my boyfriend is uncle to three girls. That makes me “auntie” to about 9 kids.
HB and SB are the eldest. Two boys, in their teens. Both very smart. I’m always trying to foster the “smart” in them. They tend to always get educational gifts. Books. Lego. The older one is getting into sports, which I think is awesome, and I try to encourage that too, where I can. I’m also trying to think of ways that I can teach them to be an ally to women, which is much harder now that I’ve moved. I do wish their mom wasn’t *quite* so over-protective (Sorry, RB) of them. They’re really good boys and responsible, so I wish she’d give them a bit more freedom to make mistakes *now* when it’s easier to learn and recover from them, rather than having them start making those mistakes in college.
CN, SN, and AN are the boyfriend’s nieces. They’re adopted and have had a rough start in life. It’s very hard for me to not want to just spoil them rotten. I really want to pound into their heads that beauty doesn’t matter. It’s fleeting. What *IS* important is being smart, being kind, being strong. Those things last. The tricky one is the strong part. I want them to be strong mentally, emotionally as well as physically. And I want them to use their powers of strength for good and not evil. I want this for all little girls everywhere, actually!
TZ and JZ are my best friend’s two youngest. They’re the hardest for me to… know what to do with, for lack of a better term. They may have mental issues (the two eldest do), but they’re young enough that nothing’s been diagnosed yet. It’s tough because I want to help, but again, I’m far away, and even if I wasn’t, I don’t know what I *could* do to help.
LF and JZ(2) (seriously? two different JZs?) are the daughters of two of my cousins and the youngest ones. LF is wicked smart. I “worry” about her the least. She’s spoiled, but not too much so (mostly by her grandparents, as well as my own mom!), well cared for, but not coddled. For her, I just really hope that her mom keeps working on languages with her. She could easily grow up learning English, Portuguese and Spanish. She’s a thinker, that one, and I would really like to foster a spirit of critical thinking, experimentation and exploration in her! I really also hope that JZ(2) grows up speaking Portuguese and English. Her parents are geeks. As a geek myself, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy knowing that she will grow up with a proper geeky pop-culture background. But I really hope that she doesn’t just consume all the geekiness that is out there. I want her to contribute. To *MAKE* something. I don’t want her to just dream of being a ninja. I want her to go out there and take kung-fu lessons and parkour and fencing! And if she wants to be a princess, then I hope she takes ballet and singing lessons and waltzing classes and learns how to sew!
The hardest part in all of this is how far away I am from everyone. Half are in Ohio, half are in Florida. I haven’t even gotten to meet JZ(2) yet. I want them all to grow up kind, with compassion for others, even those who are different from them as well as compassion for animals! I want them to grow up smart. Not just book smarts where they memorize facts and figures. I want them to have a critical mind to be able to think for themselves and analyze a situation. And I want them to be strong. I want them to be strong mentally, having strong willpower. I want them to be strong emotionally, being able to have empathy for others, and be able to recover quickly from the inevitable heartbreaks in life. I want them to be strong physically as well! The human body is an amazing machine! How far can their legs take them on their bikes? How fast can they run? How many grocery bags can they carry in from the car at one time without breaking the eggs? Can they make it all the way across the monkey bars? How anti-fragile are they? How many days can they go without getting sick?
Be smart. Be kind. Be strong.