by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter, 8/1998
His name is Colin. At the age of two years and one month, my adorable nephew is rapidly growing out of his nickname, “Colin-Baby.” The Little Man has been walking (and running) for well over a year, and his insatiable curiosity and every action fascinate me. He’s not a baby anymore, but a very active and happy little boy.
I’m amazed how taken I am with the little guy. His vocabulary is still limited — maybe about two dozen words including “Mama,” “uh-oh,” “Dada”, “Ah-Ma” (grandma), “duck,” “yeah!,” “Doggie,” “Cookie,” and my favorite, “Aba aba ba bah.” On a recent visit to see my sister Theresa and her husband Steve, I spent most of the time there chasing Colin around the apartment. At two he’s a little giggle machine, delirious in his joy as he hides next to the refrigerator, daring me to find him.
“Colin!” I shout, all the while looking right at him. “Colin, where are you?” I follow the giggles to the source, pretending not to see him until the last minute.
“Ah-pull!” he says. He wants an apple.
“Say Bobby!” I tease him.
Then he surprises me. With an absolutely devilish grin he says, “No!”
“No?!” I ask. “Bad baby, bad baby!”
More laughs, so I stamp my foot. He giggles again. He thinks I’m crazy, of that I’m sure.
“Say Bobby!” I demand.
Then he astonishes me. He looks at me, and for the first time ever says, “Bah-Bay!”
This brings joy for me. I hug him and praise him. “Good! Good! I’ll take Bah-Bay!”
“Ah-pull!” he says again.
We have an apple together. He’s fascinated by a Winnie the Pooh video and then “The little engine that could.” Then he’s on the move again, grabbing his “Tickle me Elmo” doll. Then he looks at the cat for a moment, and flops onto the floor. I gently toss a pillow over him, which brings more laughs as he pushes it aside to return his attention to the Elmo doll.
“Mel-mo,” he says with joy, and presses the little red toy to make it giggle and shake. Last year it was Barney the Dinosaur. Then Arthur the aardvark.
God knows I’m not the first person to be fascinated by a little baby, and while I always knew I’d love any child my sister had, I could never have imagined how much I adore this little blond kid. To me, he’s perfect. I know he isn’t, but to me he is.
I was fortunate enough to be there when he took some of his first steps, and I’m gratified by the huge smile that breaks out when he sees me. I was amazed when I realized he understood concepts like “yes” and “no.” I enjoyed the goofy smile and the way his eyes lit up when he saw his birthday cake. I’m amazed by how much interest I have watching his excitement over discovering the most mundane, small details in the world.
He’s got a temper, too. The “terrible two’s” arrived right on schedule. Mom called me after one of his tantrums and commented, “Sound familiar?”
“No,” I said innocently.
“He’s just like his uncle. I remember your temper tantrums.” “I don’t,” I lie.
Before, I never really understood why children’s behavior was so fascinating to parents. People would gush about how their child took a step, or ate solid food, and I just nodded with that glazed look. But it’s different with Colin. I want to hear all about his first tooth, and weaning him off his pacifier, how much he loves Cheerios, and how his little swimming lessons are going. I want to know everything.
I watch him run and play, sing and laugh, and I think to myself how truly blessed I am. He’s my nephew, my little perfect nephew. Maybe perfect only in my eyes (and his family’s). But perfect just the same.