Heroes on Monday

9 out of 10 children get their awesomeness from their aunt.

Aunts are like the dessert part of dinner. They are the pool to your hot back yard. The chocolate to your s’more. The sprinkles on your ice cream. The bike ride by the beach on a perfect day. If you are lucky enough to have an aunt like this you know exactly what I’m talking about. I had the best aunts in the world. They each gave me something unique and shaped a part of me. I can remember feeling sorry for other people because they didn’t have my aunt, “poor kids don’t get to have aunty.” I can remember thinking and saying that as a kid. I know, weird and twisted, but if you have been following me the last few months are you really surprised? My inner dialogue is bizarre. Welcome to my crazy head.

Then there was one, just one that rivalled my Aunt. She comes in a close second or even maybe ties my Aunts. Which was thought to be impossible. Aunt Brandy is like watching my childhood before my eyes. I relive moments with my Aunts as I watch her love on her nieces and nephew. I smile ridiculously as I follow along on Instagram of their crazy antics and wait and stalk her social media refreshing the page a hundred times during birthday weekends. She started this crazy fun tradition of taking each kid overnight somewhere then spends twenty four hours showering them with undivided attention, candy (as any awesome aunt does), trips to stores to pick out their perfect gift, and endless laughs and memories.

Aunt Brandy is a hero. She is a professor and a child psychologist and in her daily non aunt life works hard to connect to university students so she can train them well not to mention her private practice where she changes lives giving people tools and encouragement coupled with hope to help them through the crisis and situations that no one should have to face. She spent years studying and training and has the Dr. in front of her name to prove it. But the way I see it the most heroic of all her heroine qualities comes out in her lavish love of her nieces and nephew.

She is fun. And kids need fun. They need a place and memories that are littered with laughter and silly songs, and fashion shows and hours of cartoons and cuddles on the couch. They need a place where routine becomes what they want to do that makes them smile. To be wanted and found interesting is two of humanities biggest desires. This is what Aunts can bring to our life. Aunt Brandy cares about the kid’s interests, their sporting events, the newest Lego creation or video game, the dress that matters to them, the friendships that they love, the animals they call family. It all adds up to feeling special. Feeling noticed. Feeling heard. Kids can wander through life wondering if anybody notices them, really notices. Notices that they are present, notices that they are sad or happy, notices that they care about something very deeply. Aunts don’t “have” to love you like parents. It’s a choice and kids feel that. It changes them, shapes a part of their psyche. She includes the kids best friends in her showering of love which speaks value and a message of “you’re important and I see your friends matter to you so they matter to me.”

Aunt Brandy is amazing at her job, she is funny (hilariously funny), she’s not judgemental and can laugh at herself with great humility. But if you ask me where her heroine qualities manifest the most it is a no brainier in my book: as Aunt Brandy. She is speaking into a part of those kids that will change them forever. Her intentional love and genuine care for what matters to them gives them a confidence and love they will draw on for years to come. As I watch their relationship the characteristic that strikes me the most is one of the simplest when it comes to relationships. She likes them. She utterly enjoys their company. Ahhhh to be loved and liked for exactly who you are is the most refreshing feeling in the world. When life gets hard or situations keep spinning out of control to know you are loved can anchor you but to know you are liked can save you years of heartache. Aunt Brandy has given these kids more presents and memories than I can count but her greatest gift is herself. She has changed their future because of her love for them, her genuine like of them and hundreds of hours of memories that fill their head. So many lies have a chance to fill our heads as children then carry themselves right into adulthood and affect us forever, but to have a head full of memories and on top of that an emotional memory of feeling accepted and loved is a gift that changes a persons life. That’s one of the many reasons Aunt Brandy is hero, she has stepped into history and created a space to alter these kids’ future. Silly weekends, crazy singalongs, hours on sports fields and gyms, bike rides and ice cream, presents and trips to target. All of these things speak to the value of a child. She listened to the words and actions of each of them and then loved them with a crazy love the way they would understand. She does this effortlessly because she likes them. Simply stated she is a hero.

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