Today marks twenty days until I become an uncle for the third time. To say that I am chuffed would be an understatement. My nephews Jack and Cooper, it would be fair to say, have changed my life.
To say that before they came around that I was not that most “kid friendly” of chaps would be an understatement. Having worked at a Tenpin Bowling Centre for 5 years during my university years, I had often seen the worst of the behaviour of children and my cousins all being basically around the same age as me (with a variance of maybe 5 years either way) meant that I never really been around really little kids. Those factors led to my default setting around children to generally be taciturn and standoffish to say the least.
That all changed when my little mates, first Jack and then Cooper, came along. I remember the day Jack was born like it was yesterday: my sister went into labour moderately early in the morning, an ice age passed with me pacing and checking my phone, the call came through that he had arrived, I had a little bit of a cry and then I went out and got absolutely slaughtered (I used to drink then).
When I met Jack for the first time the next day I was astonished by how small he was (forgive me but I was a 27 year old bachelor lawyer workaholic: babies weren’t within my social sphere) and by how my heart beat got so much faster when I held him. I wasn’t the best catch of a cricket ball during my playing days and all I could think of was dropping him!
By the time Cooper came along two years later I was an old hand at the “holding the baby” lark but my heart beat still hastened every time I held him.
At this juncture, I have a confession to make that just breaks my heart. Frankly, until 15 months ago I was a pretty terrible uncle. Indicative of that is the fact that even though I try my damnedest I really can not remember much of my interactions with my little mates before then. I could make all of the excuses under the sun for this aberration but the fact is I was a selfish prat who put his family last for those first five years of Jack’s young life.
Now, I spend every moment I can trying to make up for that lost time. This has become even more important to me now that the boys are moving with their mum and dad (and soon to be new brother or sister) to the other side of the country.
What I love most about the time I am now spending with my nephews is watching them grow up. They are different in so many ways and yet they share some of the same DNA as me. They have their own personalities and yet they still rely on me, when they are with me, for so much. Jack is the quiet one whereas Cooper is the more rambunctious one. Jack is the tall one whereas Cooper is going to be more stocky.
Now that they are a bit older they are starting to play sport which has added a whole other dimension to our relationship. Rugby league, soccer, tennis and swimming have all become fixtures to varying degrees for my nephews and try to make every game I can. They have even started following rugby league teams though the fact they have become followers of the Broncos and the Dragon is something that will be subject of discussion in the years to come.
There is so much to look forward to in their coming years and I look forward to hopefully being a part of that. I know that I will miss them terribly when they head to the West but I will keep my promise to Cooper to “come for sleepovers” at every opportunity.
They both are truly at the epicentre of the best things that have happened in my life and I know that during some particularly dark period in my life their unconditional love for me as their uncle was a fill up I needed to push on rather than chuck it all in. That is what has made becoming Uncle Steve in more than just name over the last 15 months all the more special.
The next twenty days is going to fly by and then I get another chance to be an uncle. I hope I am better at it this time than I have been in the past. It is funny you know, my heart just started beating faster again …