It's no secret that my second favorite of the world's very small persons is my nephew Daniel. He's eighteen months, which is a great age, and I have so. much. fun. with the kid.
Milla is a thing of beauty and a joy forever, but facts are facts, and the fact in this case is that a fourteen-month-old simply does not have as much cunning and humor and sense of comedic timing as an eighteen-month-old has. Milla delights us by playing peek-a-boo and by responding, "Baa" when we ask her what a sheep says. Daniel makes us pray for better bladder control when we glance over at him during lunch to discover that he has calmly and deliberately stuck a straw up his nose, and is snorting through it happily.
Milla likes to play with my sunglasses, but Daniel likes to wear them. He knows that he is a Cool Guy.
Sometimes his sense of humor is problematic, such as when my sister is trying to discipline him when I'm around. She'll be speaking sternly to him and he'll catch a glimpse of me over her shoulder and shoot me a sneaky little "you and I know what's up, Aunt Arwen" grin, and I'll clap my hand over my mouth but he's not fooled by my attempts to disguise my laughter, and my poor sister's stern words are undermined.
To me, though - since I don't have the job of disciplining him - Daniel is pretty much pure joy. I love the way he runs, the way he yells, the way he dumps our little toy box so delightedly, the way he generously tries to feed his cousin, even the way he continually unplugs our Christmas tree lights. I'd feel like something vital was missing if I didn't have this kid around.
I do sometimes remember with nostalgia the days when his tiny eight-pound self would sleep peacefully curled up on my chest, but the fun of eighteen months totally makes up for it. Besides, come July I'll be able to hold another tiny niece or nephew, while still enjoying toddler Daniel. Can't beat that.