He turned on his heel and scampered upstairs. The three of us, two of my brothers and me, rolled our eyes and chuckled. I resumed building Legos; an activity my nephew begged me to join him in just before he abandoned me to become a robot.
He was gone for a long while, a really long while. During his absence, I managed to build quite a nice little fort for the Lego guys. We collectively assumed he was hard at work creating some sort of robot costume and failed to take into account the silence. The silence. The lack of banging and crashing and squealing and yelling from the level above should have made us suspicious.
When he finally reappeared, he swooped into the room. "I'm back!"
"Hey, you don't look like a robot," I pretend punched him in the arm. "What were you doing upstairs?"
An orange, rectangular piece of paper fluttered from his hand and into my lap.
"I made you a card!" He jumped up and down, hands folded under his chin. "Look at it! I made a beautiful card for you, Aunt Jessica!"
I inspected his creation. Impressively, he had cut out a rectangle, with almost straight lines, and stamped random letters in blue ink on the star-patterened paper.
The most endearing aspect of this gift was that, in order to make it, I knew that he had purposely tricked us into thinking he was going upstairs to become a robot when in reality, his plan was to break into his mommy's craft room. The craft room is a forbidden land to him when unsupervised. For me, though, he risked impending disciplinary action to make a beautiful gift.
"Thank you!" I took him by the hand. "Let's go make sure mommy's craft supplies are all put away."
I couldn't stand for the little guy to get in trouble over something so sweet. His daddy oversaw the clean up operation with a firm reminder to leave mommy's stuff alone. He replaced the lids on the ink pads, washed the ink off of his hands and face, and picked up the scrap of paper from which he cut out the rectangle.
For the rest of my visit he made sure I always had the card with me. It was with me when we played a board game, it was with me when we went out for coffee (his mommy and I had coffee; he had a cinnamon roll). Before my visit ended, he chirped again, "Do you have your card with you?"
I have it with me right now at home. It's my prized possession. There's a crease on the bottom left hand side, the result of his hasty and excited presentation. I see it and hear his squeal. I trace it with my fingers and smile. If I could get away with wearing the card around my neck or sewing it to my skin or, better yet, if I could crack open my chest and place it directly on my heart, I would.