Tess and I are flying to Boise tomorrow night to spend Thanksgiving in my birthplace. It's become a tradition to have dinner at my brother's house. It's an opportunity to whittle away at the guilt I feel about rarely seeing my mother. It's also an opportunity torment my Republican brother and remind my niece and nephew how much they have grown.
Their growth is a object of major angst for me. I touch bases on their lives on an annual basis so I'm only privy to their growth phases in condensed doses. As babies they were just these odd fragile things that spit up disgusting stuff when I bounced them around on my shoulders. This has been a tradition in my family to have my nieces and nephews spit up on me. Not being a parent, I have never taken that in stride as a normal thing.
As toddlers, my niece and nephew were even more of a mystery to me. They were usually too shy to warm up to me until I was ready to return to Seattle. When they started getting a bit older, I started to really enjoy messing with their heads. It was fun being "weird uncle Tim."
But now my nephew is essentially a teenager and my niece is 12. I saw them in May at my oldest brother's fundmentalist Christian wedding in Rainier, Oregon. It was still fun to mess with their heads, but I noticed a change. They are shifting into teenage mode and I'm sensing they are fast approaching that point where they aren't going to want to spend any time with Weird Uncle Tim anymore when we visit. Next thing I know, I'll be in Las Vegas watching them being married by an Elvis impersonator and I'll really feel old.