The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

Happy 10th Birthday Nephew #2

on February 9, 2014

I remember the excitement of meeting Nephew #2 for the very first time. He’d just arrived at London Gatwick airport (not that near to London actually) after a 13 hour flight from Hong Kong and this slightly overly enthusiastic stranger comes bounding over to him expecting this three and a half year old bewildered little boy to be just as pleased to see them in return.

The inevitable happened of course. He cried and hid behind his Dad in fear and I think his exact words were, ‘I’m scared! I’m scared! I’m scared! I need to lock her behind a door with ten locks on it!’. Oh dear. It wasn’t quite the first impression I was hoping for after waiting such a long time to finally meet Nephew #2.

I didn’t appreciate that although to me, he already had a place in my heart, to him I was a stranger. I had seen plenty of photographs of him from being a wrinkled newborn that his face was very familiar to me. Before their big trip, my brother had told him they were visiting England because his Aunt was getting married and that I was his only sister which meant there was only one Aunt like me but really, what does that mean to a three year old?

I see it now with my own children, the people important to them and who they hold in their affections are the people they see on a regular basis. It’s no use expecting them to feel the same depth of affection, love even, for someone they don’t know just because you do.

But such is the affable nature of a three year old that by the time we were comfortably seated on the Gatwick Express back to London, he was happily sat on my knee looking out of the window and talking non stop. So comfortable was he that he farted on my knee which earned him the name of Smelly Tofu, a Hong Kong street food delicacy of fried fermented tofu.

I could barely believe it considering the brouhaha of just half an hour earlier. Now I understand how it works, if children see grown ups happy together, it swiftly follows that they agree you can’t be half bad and warm to you too.


Getting to know Nephew #2 as a three year old boy holds a very special place for me. He was and still is, incredibly articulate for his age. Just speaking to him on the telephone tonight to wish him Happy Birthday and Happy Chinese New Year, he reels off a dozen blessings and good wishes to my two or three. He laughs and jokes and is generally a very happy character.

When my brother told me he was bringing over Nephew #2 to attend our wedding, it was one of the highlights of the occasion. Nephew #1 was already at school in the UK and to have them both be there is one of the best gifts I could have asked for. But being only three, he slept through the whole ceremony which was the only reason why he was so quiet. I remember turning round to look for him and seeing him fast asleep.


One of the privileges of being an Aunt is that you can publicly wax lyrical about nephews and nieces in a way that you probably wouldn’t with your own children for fear of sounding like a show off. When my six year old nephew performed his first solo piano recital it was such an immensely proud moment and I felt no reserve in telling others and showing them the video clip of his performance.

I have an interest in all his achievements and wish him to succeed and be happy just as much as his parents do. For him it means that there is one more extra person who will be just as delighted to hear about what he’s been up to. Who is happy for him and who is made happy by him. As a parent myself now, I can appreciate just how special this simple relationship can be where you can share all the good things with rarely having to exchange a disciplinary word.

But the bittersweet nature of our relationship is that in ten years we’ve met on just four occasions. It would have been far less if we weren’t living in Singapore right now, just a four and a half hour flight away from Hong Kong. Chunks of time pass, they grow up and have moved on to other interests without you knowing. Sometimes you can feel left behind or that you ought to know far more about this boy you are an Aunt to. Yet a telephone call, a message can make all the difference because now they know you are that special person to them.

My nephew is ten years old today. Double figures. A momentous milestone for anyone. He is a bright, funny, chirpy young lad that I am so proud of and glad to have. These last ten years have flown by, as my brother also agrees. They’ve celebrated with a fun day out topped off with a double scoop of ice cream.

I’m looking forward to this next stage of his growing up but I’ll always love thinking about that very first time we met. I just wish very much so, that we could have more of them. Even though #1 and #2 have met Nephew #2 before, they were so young it’s not something they can remember but he remembers them and I am hoping there’ll be a meeting again very soon with #3 in the mix too.

Happy Birthday Nephew #2. With much love.



3 responses to “Happy 10th Birthday Nephew #2

  1. VeggieKelly says:

    Wow so grown up…I last saw him when he was 3 too. I remember during the speeches, he kept interupting them 🙂


  2. VeggieKelly says:

    Not sure if that comment worked. Turns outI used to have a wordpress account….

    I last saw him when he was 3 too. Cant believe hes now 10! I remember during the speaches he kept interrupting them ams came up to the head table 🙂 so funny!


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