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Unconditional Love: That’ll teach her

on February 23, 2012

Today, my nephew helped me to re-learn the lesson about unconditional love and he did it through a tool that has become one of my signature moves: gratitude.

I was helping Nicky with his Grade 1 homework tonight and the first part of it was a review of 18 words that are part of this month’s spelling tests. Like many kids who come from broken homes, my nephews miss out on the luxury of consistency and routine. Typically, they only do homework a few times a week and the lag-time between regular homework often means that my nephews take a few steps back every few days. When I’m completely present for them, I cut them slack and realize that they need some extra help and encouragement.

Tonight, we were in a rush to get a bunch of things done (eat supper, take baths, do homework) so that we could make it to a religious commitment. I am ashamed to acknowledge that my patience left much to be desired and I just wanted my nephews to get through their homework with the competence and ability that I have often witnessed.

I failed to realize that I had just come back from holidays and I haven’t been around for two weeks of homework. Their dad and my parents do the best they can but I truly reign supreme when it comes to a disciplined and dedicated approach to homework. My nephews independently volunteer to correct their printing when they form letters imperfectly in my presence.

I definitely drive a hard bargain when it comes to diligence and I do it in part because of the lack of consistent application of rules and guidance.

My nephews’ teachers are my eyes and ears to ensure that my approach isn’t a hindrance – I want my nephews to achieve their full potential and I want to be a positive contributor to this goal so I realize that sometimes my approach will require refinement so that my efforts don’t bite me in the butt (i.e. rebellious behaviour).

So tonight, as I was trying to get Nicky to get through his spelling words (a huge quantity for any six-year-old) and I watched him struggle with words he’d learned previously but which he had forgotten due to lack of practice, my frustration muddled my compassion.

Nicky got through his words and did an awesome job on his three challenge words (way harder than the regular words so it baffles me that he can get “fairytale” correct and struggle with “your”).

Then he pulled out a piece of paper with the words “Thank you for….” and said he needed help to write a thank-you message to me and my parents for helping him with his homework each week.

My six-year-old nephew stopped me dead in my tracks. I couldn’t believe that despite all of my frustration that night that he looked at me with his big brown eyes full of love and a big smile (slightly mischievous, as always) on his face. I am harder on Nicky than I am on Ethan because Nicky is the one I consider strong and assertive. Ethan is gentle and loving and wears his heart on his sleeve. Nicky is the one I expect to stand up for himself and his brother. He has such a strong personality and he isn’t afraid of anything or anyone – not even of me. I sometimes forget that he’s just a kid and that my expectations of him might get in the way of him fully realizing his own potential.

And despite all of these shameful realities, Nicky loves me unconditionally. He may not like me very much at times, but he never lets my stupidity get in the way. Maybe somehow at six-years-old he realizes that I mean well and have good intentions. And that is enough for him to forgive me and love me even when I might not think I’m all that great.

So tonight I am grateful for unconditional love from E&N. I know that some days I am probably undeserving. Realizing this, today I also renew my commitment to always be the type of aunt who deserves my nephews’ (and nieces’) unconditional love by being a positive influence and unwavering source of empowerment and encouragement in their lives. ♥


11 responses to “Unconditional Love: That’ll teach her

  1. Kirstie says:

    Wow. The lesson, the love, and the way you have so eloquently stated it all. xoxo

  2. I second Kirstie’s wow and am so glad I took the time to read this full post. Big hugs from one aunty to another. xo

  3. Sue says:

    A good lesson for all of us moms / aunts that work with our kids. N sounds a lot like my A. I am definitely harder on her than I am on the older one because I know she has a stronger personality. As we prepare for her dictee test tomorrow, I will remember your words of wisdom!

  4. My Homepage says:

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  5. […] In my life, one of the many ways I knew C was the right partner for me was seeing him interact with and accept my nephews. If you are new to my blog, you are invited to go back and read some of my past posts about my nephews and if you have time for only one or two, read this one and/or this one. […]

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