I spent several hours alone today with my 3-year-old nephew. I was nervous about this. I adore my nephew and am very close to him, but most of our time together also involves my daughter. And I’m used to girl children; boy children tend to confuse me. And my nephew is what you would call “high energy,” whereas my daughter is sometimes so mellow, at the tender age of 4, she’s already told me to “just chill out, man.”

When I get nervous, I over-plan. So I had ideas and backup ideas and emergency ideas for how to keep the nephew busy and his energy focused. We had breakfast first. He wanted pancakes, so we went out for pancakes. Like most kids his age, he eats at a glacial pace so breakfast stretched for about an hour and a half. When I sensed he was almost finished, I tried to gauge what he was interested in doing next, eager to keep things moving. He looked at me over his soggy plate of pancakes and said, “Let’s just talk for a while, Auntie.” Huh. What a novel idea…just sitting and talking for a while. We sat at that table for another hour. And if you haven’t spent a couple of hours just sitting and talking with a 3-year-old, I recommend you do so immediately. It somehow, magically, sets the world right again.