One reason I really like being around my nephews is because they think in unusual ways. I guess most little kids are like this; I can't tell quite yet if they're going to grow up to be the same. I also like being around their overt affection and desire to share themselves with me!
The older nephew is 9. His mom has a nice smart phone, and he wanted to show me how it worked; we went to his favorite game sites and listened to the ring-tones. And then I made him look up "Joan Crawford"! :) (On the main page of the site, he recognized a photo of a '50s ad for "Peter Pan bras" that I happened to have framed in my apartment!) I also liked his sharing his "Calvin & Hobbes" book with me. And his understanding of the difference between the words "literal" and "figurative"! (RE whether an action figure of his actually had clothes on or not!) And then, during dinner, his promotion of the canned LeSueur Baby Peas that I like so and that everyone else mocks: He made a point of choosing the LeSueur peas over the fresh peas, and then we nodded about the right way to mix them with the mashed potatoes! :)
The younger nephew is 6. At one point in the evening, he pointed to his dad and said, "You have a long chin." I felt bad for my bro and so then pointed to my nephew (trying to give an example): "You have messy hair!" The nephew then pointed to me and said, "YOU have messy hair! And you have yellow teeth -- because you SMOKE!" Me: "Well... you have spaces between your teeth because they're baby teeth!" "I don't care! At least my teeth aren't yellow from SMOKING!" (All the grown-ups in the room laughed; he'd made his point!)
Later this nephew smushed my face against his. When I yelled "OUCH!" he said, "My friends don't mind when I do this." I asked him, "When you do this, do your friends SMILE [giving example of a nice smile] or do they GRIMACE?" "What's a "grimace"?" When I gave an example of a grimace, he admitted that sometimes they grimaced, rather than smiled, after being smushed! :)
He also showed me his school things: One, a picture that he'd drawn of his family, calling them "nice" and "cool" and "funny." And another from his teacher, saying how good he'd been that week. I admired them, and I felt happy that he wanted to show these to me. I also felt happy later in the evening when he was drowsing off during football and laid in my lap...
It was neat how comfortable the nephews felt with adults. I never felt like that as a kid. When I was growing up, our family hardly ever had adult friends over. There were my parents, and then there were teachers at school. And no actual human "interaction" between. I was taught to be "quiet" and "respectful," that's it. Though I had many thoughts of my own, I was almost always immediately shut down whenever I "dared" to express them, sometimes physically "shut down" -- even for something as mildly "radical" as "daring" to watch TV and write in my journal at the same time. (Got dragged down the hall by my hair for that one.)
Certainly not useful when I got older and needed to know how to actually talk to adults (and/or earn their mentorship)! Once I got to high school and college and needed to know how to present myself and interact intellectually, I had no clue. All I'd learned was: I couldn't reveal my true self to adults because adults would be mean and shut me down. I had no game. That background of mine was a real struggle in college, where I found out that thought was actually appreciated!
I envy my nephews and their ability to interact with a variety of people, including grown-up people. I'm proud of them. They have good parents who have let them be themselves.