Watching them grow

For six years now, my little niece Stormi and I have had a tickle fest going. For years now I have played the “tickle monster” to her utter delight. Lest someone think my tickling her is cruel, I promise I only do it when requested and only for as long as she continues to request it. She has also been taught to say, “No thanks. I don’t want to be tickled right now.”

But recently our game has changed. The ticklee has learned to tickle. Not only that, she has figured out just where her dear old auntie is most ticklish. It happened quite by accident, and we were both surprised when she tickled me while I was tickling her. Once she saw that she now held the same power to send me into fits of giggles, she started to use it. Now when the tickle monster starts to chase her around the house, she is just as likely to turn around and give me a look that says, “Bring it girlie. I can play this game too now.”

It seems everyday we leave more and more of her baby years behind. I know that at 6, she has not been a baby for a long time, but she has been our baby. I am wild about the little girl she is becoming, but I miss my baby doll. I know this feeling that I have is how women end up with a half-a-dozen children. There is really nothing like an infant or a toddler except maybe a puppy. My dog does not like the idea of getting a little brother, so I guess I am just baby-less for the time being.

That doesn’t really matter though because now I am getting the new joys of listening while my dear girl reads to me from her school books. And I get to listen to her stories about how her day at school went and what she plans to do the next day at school.

Recently she told me that she is not allowed to talk to her nephew when she sees him in the halls of the school they both attend. “But I waved,” she said before telling me that one of her nephew’s friends said, “Who is that girl?” She said her nephew responded that she “is a girl I know.” I said I bet it would be hard to explain to most elementary school students that she really is his aunt. I tell her all of the time that not all aunts are old like me.

“You’re not old,” she said recently. I would have believed her more if she had not been using a napkin to dab (ever so lightly) mayo off the side of my face like I was 100 and couldn’t do it myself. I told her she better not forget to do that when I really need it some day. She just grinned at me.

Happy birthday Monday to Stephanie Wright and Evette Moorman, both of Denison; Greta Brown, Adam Christopher Brown, Georgia Holland, Norma Grokett and Helen Ortez Montgomery, all of Sherman; Katherine Shell; Keaton Lagway of Fort Worth.


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