My Niece, My Prodigy

Apr 20 2012

My niece: I want french fries.

Her dad: Well, I want good listeners.

My niece: But Daddy, we HAVE french fries.


My little brother, Jeff, is a daddy.

Jeff and Kim have three kids.

Their kids are aged 3, 2 and almost 1.

That’s three kids aged 3 and under.

Three kids aged 3 and under is slightly less overwhelming than three kids aged 2 and under, which is what they had a few months ago.

FYI, “slightly less overwhelming” in this context is like how drowning in a lake is slightly less overwhelming than drowning in an ocean.

Or maybe I’m projecting.


Three kids! In less than three years!

Jeff and Kim did not have trouble with fertility like Greg and I did.

Jeff doesn’t like it when I talk about fertility.

Talking about fertility is kind of like talking about sex.

And, if I understand my brother’s position correctly from our last one hundred thousand conversations about sex, “OH MY WORD, Beth, HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU NOT TO TALK ABOUT SEX IN FRONT OF ME?”


I spent years – years, you guys – getting my Ph. D. in driving my brother insane. I conducted research. I ran thousands of experiments. I devised daily strategies for mental torture.

All of which was Jeff’s fault. For, you know, being born. And especially for always putting his finger just barely on my side of the boundary line in the car which I think we can all agree was heartless, and, well, crossing a line. Say what you like about peaceful resolutions and respecting others and choosing mercy, sometimes brothers must be punished. And if the parents aren’t going to do it, well, what’s a righteous sister to do?

Now, I admit, sometimes I took my teasing just a touch too far and I had to sneak into his room in the middle of the night and wake him up and beg him to forgive me because if I died in my sleep I was for sure going straight to Hell with all of the other Meany McMeanpants big sisters.

But whatever. I’m totally a grown-up now, so I’ve put my childish ways behind me. I have turned over a new sibling leaf. I am, officially, an adult. And adults are mature.

I no longer condone teasing of any kind, because teasing is mean and destructive. And never hilarious.

And that’s exactly why, when my brother posted this exchange with his 3-year-old daughter on his Facebook page…

My niece: I want french fries.

My little brother, her father: Well, I want good listeners.

My niece: But Daddy, we HAVE french fries.

…I did not wet myself laughing.

And I did not say to my computer, “Go, Niece!”

And I did not mentally bow my head in a moment of respectful silence and then pass the Torture Torch to her with much fanfare and pride and a gigantic bowl of imaginary candy.

My niece is 3 years old.

She’s going to live at home for AT LEAST the next 15 years.

With her father.

Who is my brother.