Once a child

Congratulations to giveaway winners Pieter, for THE HYPNOTIST, and Shari, for ON MAGGIE’S WATCH. I will put your books in the mail by the end of the week!

Over Labor Day weekend, Andy and I went to visit some of my family in Ann Arbor. We ate (a lot), we played golf, we walked around town, we relaxed at their house. It was a lovely weekend, and the highlight was spending time with my cousin’s adorable — and impressive — little boy. As Andy joked, “This kid knows more languages than I do!” Yes, he speaks English, French, and Chinese; he’s starting to read; he’s well behaved and cheerful*; he loves to sing, drive, and play guitar… All before the ripe old age of 3.

*Note: When I first met him 2 years ago, he was a fussy, scream-y baby who never wanted to eat or sleep, even when he desperately needed to. Yay for change!

I cannot tell you how my heart surged when he started asking for me. “Where is Tata Christmas?” (Tata is baby French for “aunt,” and Christmas is his interpretation of Kristan.) Or when he chose to sit on my lap during family photos instead of his grandfather’s. (Sorry, uncle!) Or when he gave me a big hug and bisou goodbye.

The love of a child is achingly sweet and pure.

Then one of those Moments of Maturity hit me. I realized that the way I feel about this kid is probably a lot like how my parents’ relatives and friends used to feel about me. They watched me grow, marveled at my development, felt special when I showed them preference. But as I got older and more independent, I stopped desiring the glowing spotlight of their questions and compliments. It became a burden instead of an honor. Instead of shining, I shied away.

It makes me a bit sad to realize that my cousin’s son — and the kids of all my friends, really — will probably think of me this way someday, too. But it’s not personal, I know. Just a normal part of growing up. And hopefully, like me, in time they’ll come full circle, learning to appreciate the adults in their lives in a new and different way.


  1. what a nice post, Kristan. I’ve lived this through my own children and look forward to the day they have children of their own so they can be let in to this wonderful secret.

  2. I have a friend who insists that the reason small children are so charming is so they can lull you into a false sense of security and then turn on you savagely as teenagers.

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