Ten years ago, yesterday, I received a phone call from my (now ex) brother-in-law.
‘Are you going to come and see this baby, then?’ he asked. This was his way of saying that my nephew had arrived and that I should get myself up to the hospital.
My niece, aged two, was fast asleep on the sofa and I took the opportunity to rush around checking that the open fire was safe behind the fire-guard, that I had her car seat ready for the taxi and that the dog had been out for a wee in the garden. Unfortunately, niece woke up and screamed the house down on finding that she was alone in the front room. So, to make her feel safe, I sat her on my hip while I carried out these chores. She wailed and howled non-stop and I could not calm her down. Then, the taxi arrived. It was a woman driver and as soon as she spotted her, my niece changed mood. Suddenly, she was all chatty and cheerful, telling about how we were going to meet her baby brother who’d just been born. I sat back and let her chat. The driver responded and the two of them were best pals by the time we got to the hospital. The car pulled into the car park. I sat forward, ready to pay the fare and get out. My niece said to the driver,
‘I’ve seen my daddy naked.’
There was a moment’s silence and then the driver and I burst out laughing.
They were expecting us at the maternity unity. My niece led the way like a visiting dignitary. How did the staff know who she was? I have no idea but I have become used to her effect on people. She is a VIP. Even when you don’t know who she is, she’s still a VIP.
In the delivery room, the excited parents looked up as we entered. Cradled in my sister’s arms was our newest family member. Two hours old and he had the most direct gaze I’ve ever met. Blue/grey eyes that shouldn’t even be able to focus yet bored into me. My niece had competition, she had a brother who was every bit as striking as she was.
They are different, my niece and nephew, but not that different. Stormy and talented and full of attitude, they rule the world. Or at least, our bit of it. And I am so glad that I am a part of their lives. I wanted to take this chance to say happy birthday to my nephew and to his sister, I want to say, you are both VIPs to me.