After a day and a half of driving (well, mostly it was Mom driving and me sleeping in the car), we finally arrived at my sister’s – and nephew’s – doorstep. It was finally time for me to meet my nephew, José. I’d talked with him on the phone a few times, even Skyped with him. But soon I would see him in the flesh. My desire to hug him was already overwhelming, though I knew to wait for him to come to me. When my mom went down to Colombia to help out Jess, it took José a couple of days to warm up to abuela. (It didn’t take so long with abuelo – my father – but we figured that was because he’s also a dude.)
So, when he greeted me at the door and then ran away, shrieking happily, I didn’t take offense. Jess was there to give me a big hug, which I always enjoy. Right away, José was eager to show me all the surprises he and Jess had for me. First, there were presents. Of course, if there’s a kid around presents, it doesn’t matter who they’re for, the kid should be the one to open them. So I asked him to help me open them and even though he’d help Jess wrap them, he still acted surprised at what was inside. Everything was from his birth country: a journal, a mug, and a purse with Colombia’s flag colors on it. He tried to put the purse on my head like a hat, unsuccessfully.
Being an aunt, I had presents for him and Jess as well. José received a Thomas the Tank Engine, coloring pages drawn by my friend Burt, and many books, including one that he and Jess had read down in Colombia. He recognized it right away and made a happy noise. Jess’ presents were a little less exciting but much more sentimental. One was a picture frame I’d made with the word “family” in big letters and the “gotcha date” stamped on it. The picture I put inside the frame was the first picture that Jess had sent me from Colombia, the two of them grinning to finally be with their family. Her other present was a set of watercolor paintings done by my friend Veruca, who is married to Burt. I’d commissioned her to make a watercolor map of José’s hometown. As a surprise, she also made a watercolor map of José’s new hometown. I framed them and Jess hung them up in the living room. They look great and I enjoy seeing them every day!
Even though José kept asking for mas, there were no more presents, but there was another surprise in store for me. I followed him into the kitchen where he showed me the torte he and his mama made together. We all sat down and had a slice. Yummy!
The next few days went by in a blur of playing, laughing, and being utterly exhausted. I knew that new moms got tired a lot; I didn’t know that new aunts did, too! By my third night, I passed out on the couch as Jess put José to bed. I slept for 12 hours that night and felt as if I could have slept even more.
We all went to the pool one day and abuela and I played with him while Jess took a well-deserved and much needed nap in the sun. He doesn’t know how to swim yet, but he knows how to hold his breath under water and kicking his legs. He likes to be submerged in the big pool, but is too scared to go by himself (he refuses to use the floaties). But that first day we were at the pool together, he let me hold him as I walked around the pool. He clung to me but he had a huge grin on his face and I relished in the time I got to hold him. I also got to sneak in a kiss. It meant so much to me that even after not knowing me for very long, he trusted me enough to let me carry him through the “scary” water.
And here’s our first family photo with Tia Liz (notice the creepy abuelo in the background?):