(This is a concept that really confused me as a kid. I had TONS of "aunts" and "uncles," but no actual aunts and uncles because my parents were both only children. So imagine my dismay when we learned about the family tree in school and I realized none of my aunts and uncles were actually related to me. I moped for like a whole day over that, and I swore I would never confuse my own kid like that. Which is just one of MANY promises to myself I made before I had a kid and then broke after having one. But that's material for a whole 'nother blog post.)
Uncle Sid lives in Hong Kong these days, so we don't see him much. He met Nora briefly when she was maybe five months old, but of course she doesn't remember, and since she was sleeping through most of that encounter, I doubt she was all that memorable for him, aside from being the kid of his friends. So we considered this their first real meeting, and it was a smashing success.
We picked Sid up from the Raleigh Amtrak station, and kiddo gave him the same treatment she gives everyone who rides in our car: silent, suspicious staring. But within a minute – we were barely out of the parking lot – she was giving him huge grins and laughing every time he spoke to her. We got home, and Sid barely got a chance to put his suitcase down and sit down before Nora grabbed a book and came running over to us. She ran right past me and right to Uncle Sid, declaring "want up!" and nestling into his lap so he could read to her.
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By this time I was actually gaping. Nora is a friendly kid, but she NEVER warms up to anyone this quickly. She loves her grandparents, but it takes her a couple of hours to really get comfortable with them, and it's definitely a full day or two before she hops up on their laps voluntarily. Even her real uncles have a little work to do to get past her initial shyness. But not Uncle Sid.
My husband and I have always loved Sid for his gentle spirit and his enormous heart, and our theory is that kiddo was able to pick up on those qualities instantly. I saw a bumper sticker recently that said: "Be the person your dog thinks you are," which is an admirable goal. But maybe even better is "Be the person that a toddler instantly loves." Dogs, after all, tend to love everybody (not that there's anything wrong with that). But toddlers have discriminating tastes, and if you pass muster, you must be pretty worthy -- definitely deserving of a title as lofty as, say, "Uncle."