My niece joined the family on July 12th, 2010. This special young lady's mother is my younger sister, which in classic Chinese culture makes me her Jiu Jiu (舅舅) -- thus the title of this blog. Here I intend to semi-regularly post reflections, thoughts, stories, and assorted whathaveyous pertaining to our trip to China, adoption in general, and (mostly) watching my niece grow up. Since the web is a very public place, I will attempt to maintain my family's privacy while telling the story... but I invite you to follow the blog and come along for the adventure!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Subversion of Expectations

No, this isn't a rant about how the writing for the last season of Game of Thrones on HBO was not only sub-par, (Dude...) but ignored multi-year character arcs to instead simplify situations to junior high level, pretended (Um, Dude...) that foreshadowing was the same thing as (YO, DUDE!) character development, and rushed things beyond viewers' ability to suspend disbelief because (DOOOOOOOD! HEEEEEEY!) they blew a season's budget on two episodes of visual spectacle that were either (omigawd, he's off and running again...) too dark & chaotic to see or that served to just anger most of the fanbase by (HEY! ENOUGH! THIS ISN'T A YOUTUBE COMMENTS SECTION, IT'S YOUR BLOG!) ... most of... um...


Sorry 'bout that, Chief... (That's okay, Dude. Take a deep breath.) I was going to write about how some of our expectations (mostly of the worried kind) for the Pipsqueak really didn't match reality in unexpected ways, and since "Game of Thrones" was in the news so much and was infamous for subverting expectations, it seemed like a good title... but then something kinda snapped and... uh, yeah.


Hi, everybody, and welcome back!

We hadn't even gotten back on the bus after Miri was first placed in AJ's arms before we were developing some expectations about what life was going to be like for her.  The odd double swirl at the back of her head led to expectations for a lifetime of bad hair days (unfortunately, I think I came up with that one entirely by myself); her demeanor led to expectations of a quiet observer instead of an outgoing participant; her "hobby" (as the head nanny called it) of sticking her tongue out here and there and over that way and then back the other way led to expectations of... well, something, we really couldn't figure it out.

But most of all we very quickly developed the expectation of the Pipsqueak always being a pipsqueak, hopefully healthy but definitely and irrevocably short -- as in a lifetime of needing to ask for help to reach items on a middle shelf, never mind the top one.

So... Let's fast-forward from mid-July of 2010 to late May of 2019 and review some of those expectations, shall we?

That "lifetime of bad hair days" (I'm sorry, niecy, I really am!) sort of came & went in a year.  These days, Miri rocks an extra-long 'do; all that mass, combined with the fact that her hair tends to be very fine, means that once you get past the normal tangles one associates with longer hair (and with a child who sometimes forgets to pay attention to where her hair is going while engaged in things like painting, crafting, cooking, eating, etc.) it all goes pretty much where she wants it to.  The worst thing that's happened with Miri's hair in the past couple of years was the extra-sad and mercifully short-lived excuse for a bun I tried to make for her for dance class one day. ("Uncle Brian, you're really good at some things, but making my hair into a bun isn't one of them!")

The Pipsqueak did indeed prove to be a quiet observer; we all still remember the shock in the voice of a harried mom of two at the next table in a burger joint who blurted out, "That has to be the world's best-behaved baby!"  She still gets worried about new situations, and is sometimes super-shy when meeting new people... but any fears of her being painfully and/or negatively introverted went out the window years ago.  Pretty much everybody knows her -- even in her elementary school, with well over 400 students enrolled, it's not unusual for AJ to walk down the hall with her and have a variety of teachers, administrative staff, and students from several different grades & classes greet her daughter by name as they pass.  She's proud to be on her studio's competitive dance team, loves performing classic Chinese dances with the CLAPS group, and will be attending drama camp for the 2nd summer in a row.  Since she was three, it's been no surprise to find her helping a cashier in the supermarket after shopping or at a restaurant as we prepare to leave, and she never fails to find at least one or two kids (quite often older than herself) to generally run around & have fun with at events while the adults stand & talk.

The tongue calisthenics... Well, we never really did figure those out (it was almost like there was a 2nd independent lifeform that happened to live in that baby's mouth), but aside from the tip occasionally poking out the side of her mouth when Miri's concentrating on something, any & all concerns in that department also evaporated within her first year home.

"But Brian," I hear you say, "You still call her 'Pipsqueak' so surely the expectation for her being extra-short was accurate...?"

Um... kinda.  For several years, it was easy to point out Miri to strangers when she was performing: "She's the little one."  Even as she began to grow away from the far ends of the growth bell curve and toward its center, she was always "the short one" in group photos, or "the little one" who had to take three steps to keep up with some other kids' two.

But somehow, when we weren't looking, she grew.  And then she grew some more.  (And yes, I have indeed used the "you grew some!" pun on her.)  She began to have to duck to get under even tall tables.  She began getting things from the kitchen counter for herself.  She stopped being "the short one" in group photos.  She began getting things for herself from the middle shelf in the fridge.  The legs of her dance costumes needed to be shortened less.  She began getting things for herself from the top shelf in the fridge.  She began to be able to use hangars in the hall closet.  A few days ago, I noticed her head coming a lot closer to a calendar on the wall so I got out a tape measure and discovered she had sprouted about ⅜" in about eight days.

And then, earlier tonight, after Miri called me to let me know she didn't need help with her math homework tonight but probably would tomorrow, my sister got on the phone and gave me some unexpected news.  After pulling into the garage, instead of asking Mommy to get something for her out of the back of the minivan, she simply asked AJ to unlock the rear door. The Pipsqueak then unconcernedly walked around to the back of the van, popped the door open, pulled out her dance bag, and then pulled the door closed again by herself.

She pulled the door closed by herself!  This door is hinged at the van's roofline & lifts up to form a sort of canopy.  When fully open, I have  enough room stand up underneath it, and the lowest point (along the edge) is just above my eyeline -- but Miri simply reached up, grabbed the edge, and swung it closed by herself without a second thought.

So much for expectations...!

PS - Some time back I actually asked Miri if it was alright for me to continue calling her "Pipsqueak" because she had grown so much.  She's aware that it's a term of endearment and admitted she kinda likes it, so that's not gonna stop any time soon. :-)

PPS - You shoulda read some of my real GoT rants on YouTube... Although, on second thought, maybe it's best that you didn't.   >8-O