My nephew turned seven yesterday. The time has flown since that morning I came up from Atlanta and at 5 AM my sister came into my room and said “Its time.” My nephew is a charismatic individual. Really smart (many times too smart for his own good), sociable, and a bright future ahead of him.
He’s seven. So he’s that age where kids ask a million questions and it can get irritating. I don’t have any younger siblings, and the only first cousin I have was born when I was sixteen. I don’t have much training for this age nor was I around on a day to day basis until he was five. As the father figure to him, he’s kinda like my experiment child. I make a lot of mistakes with him, but I’m sure I will have it a little better when Cydney is that age. I’m a little too hard on him, but I do that for balance. He’s around his grandmother a lot, so she does the day to day mom things, but she also spoils him like a grandchild so he gets away with bloody murder. Like I said, he reminds me a lot of me, and I know how much more discipline could have worked wonders in my life. That’s what happens, we see ourselves in our kids and want them to be better than us all the while it makes us walking contradictions to them. I get it now.
I know he looks up to me. I can see when I’m doing things I can see him studying me in the corner of my eye. I’m still a twenty-something black male. I have tattoos, my pants don’t fit and fall a little bit, and I almost never wear a hat properly. I try to curb some of my adult ways because I know he’s copying. One of the reasons I’m ready to go back to being corporate is because I want him to see that and aspire to be that. My father is a musician. I loved that he didn’t wear suits to work, loved to sit in on studio sessions, and as soon as I could I copied and became the same thing. Learning from his example, I finished college, but I’m not doing anything on a day to day basis with it. I told him “You don’t want a job, you want a career.” With that said, he does want to be something big and I’m going to do my part to make sure that he does.
While I am the father-like figure, I’m also the uncle. Uncles are the ones who didn’t turn out all the way right and the ones you can have fun with. I try to give him some of that. When we drive in the car, we listen to rap music loudly because he doesn’t get to do that with anyone else. I still gauge what I listen to around him, so that usually consists of gospel rap and A Tribe Called Quest, but its enough for the effect. Whenever my uncle came around, I looked at him like he was one of the coolest people. He wore his clothes similar to how I do now, he’s fifty and still never wears his hat properly either. He’s a part of the hip hop generation even though him and my mother are only a few years a part.
When I was sixteen and he moved back to Queens, that’s when my uncle and I became close. I would ride around with him and he’d just tell me about life and teach me all of the things that my parents wouldn’t or shouldn’t (While it wasn’t an activity I partook in, such life lessons consisted of how to smoke weed while driving and it not smelling up the car-gotta love that guy).
For what its worth, that’s what uncles are for: to keep it real and let you be yourself and be the ones you can talk to when your parents aren’t. While my nephew is too young for many of the wonderful lessons I learned (Like how the game goes and how to properly maintain relationships with more than one woman simultaneously), at this point its about being an influence for him to learn from and build trust. That’s my little guy nonetheless. Like I did, he will learn from my successes and failures while I maintain this hybrid of uncle-dad to him. While it isn’t a video game, its the best gift I can give him at this point in life.