My nephew, Mateo, is a day short of approaching what many people call the dreaded "Terrible Twos". And it's amazing how much he has grown — not just height-wise! — since he turned a year old 364 days ago. It's as if he reaches milestone after milestone, just in a week's time.
And really, I have loved every moment I got to spend with him these last 12 months. I've gotten to know more of his personality, I've seen glimpses of what he may be interested in someday, and we've carved out our own "Nanang and Mateo" ("Nanang" being his nickname for me) bonding sessions.
In any relationship, even one you have with a toddler, there will always be a two-way learning dynamic. And not only have I learned things about my nephew as his personality develops; I've also learned life lessons that could've only come from this energetic, now wavy-haired little firecracker.
These are just some of the many, many things I've come to learn from this little dude.
(Photos taken from different stages of him as a one-year-old; not necessarily in the right order.)
1) The Beauty of Family
Mateo is unique in the sense that he regularly does what we'd like to call "roll calls". Like a class President, whenever he visits or whenever we're out in the mall or at a restaurant, he starts rattling off everybody's names: "Mum... Dada... Nonna..." and so on and so forth as if he's doing an attendance check. And you have to reassure him that you're there by saying, "I'm here!" or tell him if someone isn't there (i.e. "She's at work, sorry!") This happens for our side (Mateo's Dad's) of the family, and even for his Mom's side of the family. He knows which family members belong to which side of the family, and he will always ensure that he says everyone's names; sometimes he'll repeat the process over and over again within a span of a few minutes.
It's because he's happiest when he's surrounded by all of his family members. He enjoys putting on a "show" (getting people's attention, making everyone laugh or clap, or even cheer for him as he shoots a basketball), and he loves giving hugs and kisses.