Self-Love Is Tops

, , , , , | Related | April 28, 2021

My niece is around three.

Me: “I love you, [Niece].”

Niece: “I know. Everyone loves me.”

Me: “Oh? Everyone does?”

Niece: “Uh-huh. Mommy is always telling me she love me, and [Grandmother] does, and my teachers all love me.”

Me: “I understand why they would all love you. You’re smart, kind, and one of the best-behaved kids I’ve ever known. What’s not to love?”

I still smile when I remember her confidence in declaring everyone loved her. I hope she can keep up that self-esteem as she gets older!


This story is part of our Feel Good roundup for April 2021!

Read the next Feel Good roundup for April 2021 story!

Read the Feel Good roundup for April 2021!

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It’s All “Ohana”

, , , , | Related | March 5, 2021

As an “honorary” uncle, I am playing with my two-year-old niece one day when she decides to bring all her horse dolls out to play with. Two of them are about the same size while the third is noticeably smaller.

Me: “They could be a mommy and daddy horse and their baby horse.”

Practically the moment I say that, I realize I don’t want to imply that this is the only “right” sort of family unit, especially since my niece was conceived via sperm donor and so doesn’t have a father. Thus, I quickly decide I need to add some other suggestions.

Me: “Or maybe it’s a mommy horse, another mommy, and their baby?”

Niece: “You can’t have two mommies.”

Niece’s Mother: “Sure, you can! What about [Friend]? She has two mommies, doesn’t she?”

Niece: “Oh.”

Niece’s Mother: “Or maybe it’s a mommy horse, a grandma horse, and a baby horse.”

Until recently, [Niece] and her mother lived with her grandmother while their house was being renovated, so a mommy horse and grandma horse better describe their “family unit.”

Me: “Or maybe it’s a mommy horse and an uncle horse who came to play with his favorite niece horse!”

Our play quickly moved on to other things, but I’m glad I was able to catch my mistake in time to fix my original suggestion, and particularly thankful that my niece’s mother picked up on what I was trying to do and backed me up so quickly.

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Way To Keep Your Cool, Daddy-O

, , , , | Related | March 4, 2021

I’m a known sperm donor. I’ve donated sperm for a few individuals who needed help. I make it clear that, while I’m always happy to help, I always prefer if I can meet the children I donated for, and luckily, a few parents have allowed me that opportunity. In particular, the parents of two kids have made me an “honorary uncle” for their kids. I often visit and play with them, and these two kids in particular have also become close friends and playmates with each other.

My “nephew” is around three and my “niece” is closer to four. The niece’s mother has been very open about explaining how I donated sperm for her. Meanwhile, my nephew’s parents haven’t chosen to explain my donation for him.  

There is an annual fair that I always attend with my niece happening this day, and we invite my nephew, as well. His parents are both busy with moving to a new home on that day, so we offered to take him with us to the fair as a way to keep him out of their hands while moving.

Nephew: “Daddy, can we… Oh.”

Me: “I’m not your daddy!”

This was clearly just a slip-up on my nephew’s part; he forgot who he was talking to for a second. Unfortunately, despite knowing better, I was foolish enough to comment on it. My nephew decides that this is funny and proceeds to call me Daddy over and over as a joke. The problem is that my nephew already has a wonderful dad, even if that dad wasn’t able to produce sperm for him, and as a donor, I am quite aware of how important it is that he not call me daddy, even as a joke.

Me: “[Nephew], you shouldn’t call me that. I’m not your daddy.”

Niece: “Well, actually, you gave his mommy sperm, so…”

Now I’m freaked out. I was aware that my niece knew I donated sperm, but I honestly didn’t think she had connected “gave Mommy sperm so she could have me” with the concept of “father” yet. I absolutely did not expect her to interrupt my attempt to distract him with this little speech.

I rush to cut her off.

Me: “Which makes me a donor, but that’s all I am!” *To my nephew* “I really don’t like being called Daddy; it makes me feel bad. How about we think up some better names to call me? Like ‘The Amazing Uncle’ or ‘Sir Awesome McCoolName’?”

Thankfully, my nephew was easily distracted enough at that age that he didn’t appear to have registered or understood my niece’s statement at all and was quickly distracted with funny names to call his uncle.

Later, when I could catch her in private, I spoke with my niece about how some parents weren’t as open as her mother was and that it was important to respect parents’ wishes when it came to what to tell their kids. She promised not to tell any of the other donor siblings about my donating to them unless an adult told her she could, and she has been very careful about not doing so ever since. Luckily, she is one of the few kids you can trust to actually keep a secret when asked! And so, I barely scraped by our fair visit without any upset parents!

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Who Knew You Could Mess Up Instant Ramen?

, , , , | Related | March 1, 2021

My eight-year-old nephew has just learned to make the “add water and microwave” ramen bowls. His eleven-year-old brother figures, if his little brother can do it, how hard can it be? After popping one in the microwave, he falls back on one of his favorite Sibling Activities, gloating.

Older Nephew: “Look, I know how to cook ramen better than you!”

[Younger Nephew] looks around his brother at the microwave and says, completely deadpan:

Younger Nephew: “Your ramen is on fire.”

We quickly put the fire out to find that [Older Nephew] had neglected to actually read the instructions and hadn’t added water. It took three days for the smell of smoke to go away and we had to buy a new microwave.

At thirteen now, his cooking skills haven’t improved much, but at least he learned not to gloat about them. We also learned to keep a closer eye on him in the kitchen.

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They Did Better Than We Would Have!

, , , , | Related | February 3, 2021

My niece’s mother is a big believer in being honest with her children. For instance, she told my niece Santa wasn’t real when her daughter asked who he was. This also applies to giving age-appropriate explanations about “private” topics like where babies come from and private parts. The idea is that if you don’t shush kids when they ask about this stuff at a young age, they feel more comfortable asking important questions, like how to get and use birth control when they’re older and really need to know how to protect themselves.

As such, I’ve been given explicit permission to answer any of my niece’s questions, even about “sensitive” topics, and I know she wouldn’t approve of my not answering her daughter’s questions. For what it’s worth, I generally agree that it is the best policy, but that doesn’t mean it’s always an easy one.

At the time of this story, my niece has just turned four. Since she was conceived using a sperm donor, her mother has already explained the process and my niece has been able to tell others about it for nearly a year now. This is her latest explanation of the process.

Niece: “The penis makes sperm, but I don’t know how the sperm gets out of the penis. Then, when the sperm is put in the vagina, it can find the tiny eggs in the mom’s belly, and that makes the baby start growing.”

My niece turns to me and looks at me questioningly before reiterating:

Niece: “But I don’t know how the sperm gets out of the penis.”

I’m tempted to avoid the topic since she didn’t technically ask me anything, but I know it goes against the spirit of honest communication her mother believes in to avoid answering the implied question. So, I suppose I’m on the hook for answering her.

Me: “Well, do you know how your baby brother pees?”

Niece: Oh! The little hole on top of the penis! Oh, never mind. I figured it out now!”

My niece then wandered away, content with her new knowledge, and I couldn’t help but feel like I’d just dodged a bullet. I figure it doesn’t count as dishonest to skip over any other steps involved until she is a little older.

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