E's Uncle Timbo is not really someone you would label as a "kid person". He doesn't have any, doesn't want any, and hasn't spent a lot of time hanging out with any. He doesn't dislike them…at least I'm pretty sure he doesn't…they just run in different circles.
Having said that, when I was pregnant with E, Uncle Timbo got pretty darn excited. So excited, in fact, that he even got in on the pregnancy photo shoot action, as witnessed below:
He asked us all kinds of questions and promised to babysit all the time. He gave us loads of baby name ideas. For a boy: Tim. And for a girl: Timella, Timeka, Timberbell…it was a pretty long list, actually.
But when E was born, I think reality was a bit of a sucker punch for him. The Excitement became The Fear. He would hold her if we made him, but mostly he would interact with her only while she was safely ensconced in someone else's arms, or strapped securely into a bouncy chair. Having little to no baby experience to draw on, he was very apprehensive about breaking his very small, very precious niece.
As she has grown, Uncle Timbo has come out of his shell a bit more. Fortunately for him, E is more active verbally than physically and, what with him being mind-bogglingly intelligent about a startling range of topics, they have had some truly entertaining discussions with each other. But still not much one-on-one time.
Last weekend the Cowfam went to Toronto, where we attended a wedding. A wedding to which our little one was unequivocally banned, as they sometimes are. Now typically this wouldn't be a problem as J's parents would have gladly stepped in, except for the small snag that involved them being in the middle of a three-week hiatus in the South of Spain and Morocco. Very rude, I know. That left but one option outside of actually paying a stranger to care for our child (do people actually do that?!?), and that option was Uncle Timbo.
When we first approached him, he seemed more than happy to oblige. Not much in the way of specifics were discussed, and everyone seemed pretty comfortable with the idea. Then came the emails. And the phone calls. Eventually, J asked me if I thought it would be better to drop E off in Kingston with my parents for the entire four-day Thanksgiving weekend instead. I said no. Uncle Timbo would be brilliant, even if he didn't know it yet.
And, guess what? Brilliant.
We elicited E's help by suggesting that she babysit her Uncle for the night, seeing as he had never babysat before. She was very fond of the idea, though she admitted to being a bit nervous. So we left them to their own devices, confident in the knowledge that they would take care of each other.
In the almost four years that I've been feeding my daughter meals, I have never once thought to make aliens and octopi out of weiners. J and I absolutely wither in the face of Timbo's story reading skills. And though I might have preferred her entire lifespan to be devoid of Spongebob Squarepants, I bet every time she sees that obnoxious yellow blockhead, she will think fondly of her Uncle Timbo.
When we left the next day, E gave Uncle Timbo a hug that he described as "literally the best hug ever", and there's a reason for that. It's because he gave her the very best gift he could give her, and now they have memories that belong to just the two of them. And that's a big deal.
Nice work, Timbo. You're a natural.