I’m the eldest of 3 and my wife is the youngest of 4. Between us we have 6 nephews and 2 nieces with one to come. Due to the relative age of her and her siblings, our eldest nephew is 30 something and his brothers aren’t that far behind him. My wife’s younger-older brother’s daughter and son have just turned 21 and 18 respectively. So on her side they are all pretty much adults or young adults. However, on my side, my brother has a daughter and a son and my sister a son with another on the way – all under ten. My sister’s son, let’s call him Ted, is a real character. Bubbly, talkative, keen to show you his toys and get you to watch the TV with him, he’s always ready for input from you.
My brother’s son is a different kettle of fish. He’s one of those kids that when you say hello, he seems to be thinking, ‘well Uncle Cosmic, if you think I’m talking to you, you’d best think again.’ He’s incredibly difficult to get anything out of, much like, I imagine, wringing blood from a stone. Of course once you’ve been in his presence for a while he does thaw and will communicate, but up until that point there’s an air of ‘I’ve clocked your presence, I accept that you’re here, but don’t ask me to speak to you, ‘cos you’ll be disappointed.’ I went round the other day to deliver my niece’s birthday present (very belated – long story). Eric was there, with his scooter. ‘Hello Eric’, says I, to which he responds by scooting away across the kitchen vinyl. I then tried to engage him in conversation, about his dad and me, telling him a story about when we were kids. It fell flatter than a flat thing. Having said that, he’s a great wee chap, is Eric. The last time they came round to ours, it was all we could do to get him to leave the telly for lunch – and then it was only when I went to ask him that he’d deign to come and join us.
I guess in many respects, they’re much like my brother and I, Ted and Eric. Only, I was similar to Eric and my brother very much like Ted. I think it just goes to show how dangerous it is to stereotype or pigeon hole. My own sons are proof positive of this. If they were all like me, then fine, but they’re not. Each has his own personality and idiosyncrasies. And just like my nephews and nieces, the world is a better place for them.