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!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Personal Space

Well, looks like I done did it again.. skipped a week (or three) in my blogging. At least this time I have a couple of good excuses, including throwing my semi-annual "big sick" but things are back to the insanity that now passes for normal 'round these parts, so let's get some road under this show...

Over the years, one corner of Mom & Dad's family room slowly morphed into The Place Where All The Pipsqueak's Things Are Kept.  It didn't start out that way, and wasn't really planned; it just seemed to be the best corner to stash things in, and the spot with the most room for the little plastic slide she used to love crawling up (and which she now towers over).  As she left toddlerhood that part of the room turned out to be the best place to put a small shelf unit for some of her books & toys. Fast-forward a couple of years, and the shelf unit (actually more of a rack for plastic bins rather than actual shelves) was joined by an ever-growing collection of bins, baskets, boxes, rolling 3-drawer things that don't roll very well, and, well... stuff.

An ever-expanding sea of things that became increasingly difficult to wade through to get to the light switch.

An ever-expanding collection of things that she needed to spend more & more time looking through to find what she was looking for.  (Something that actually runs in the family.)

An ever-expanding collection of things that were more & more precariously perched and piled atop each other as the bin rack and baskets overflowed with both new things she enjoyed and old things she had long ago outgrown.

The kicker came about six weeks ago, when a member of the Texas branch of the family decided Uncle Ruby (that's Dad) wasn't exactly a spring chicken any more so she organized a family reunion and scheduled a not-so-small mob into the house for dinner one night.  (The event is scheduled for early November; I'm sure you'll read about it here in the blog.)  Mom was and remains beyond perplexed over how to fit nearly 40 people into the  house but very quickly realized we'd fit a lot more of the mob into the family room if Miri's things weren't so busy taking up so much of it.

It would've been easy to just pack everything up in boxes and stash it in the basement or garage; to pull out all the books & toys we know Miri doesn't play with any more and get rid of them; to just tell the Pipsqueak that Grandma & Grandpa really need that space so could she please take some of her things home; or to do any number of other things that would have very quickly cleared out the space.

But that's the corner that's held the Pipsqueak's things since she was about two years old, and Mom wanted to make sure Miri knew that it was still her house and she belonged there no matter what, and just unilaterally tossing stuff away or telling the Pipsqueak to clear out was the absolute opposite of that message so we had to figure out another way.

A review of all the things that were spreading outward from the corner quickly proved that an appreciable percentage had truly been outgrown, and that a better storage solution would take care of almost everything left over... so we began hunting for shelves and cabinets that would work.  I'll save you the eleventy-seven hours of reading the entire story and just say we settled on a small Billy bookcase from IKEA, with an optional set of doors and a height extender that would bring it up to an almost perfect size & capacity.

Y'all remember  what happened the last time I put together IKEA furniture for the Pipsqueak, right...?  (You can read the saga here, and here, and here.)  Well, things went slightly more smoothly this time.  I got the bookcase assembled with no glitches, the special adjustable sunken hinges I'd learned to hate while working at IKEA installed and adjusted without a hitch, and I even had the doors properly aligned with maybe five minutes' work... but then came the height extender.  No matter how I looked at the instructions (which I luckily brought up online instead of ripping open the box), the anchor holes that were absolutely required for installation just did. not. exist. on the top of the bookcase.  I began surfing the web on my iPhone to try to figure out what I'd done wrong and eventually discovered some guy's blog in which he bemoaned the fact that the short Billy would have been exactly the right height for his needs with the height extender attached but that the height extender was designed to only fit atop the 72" version of the Billy,  nothing smaller.

I'll skip the cussing, discussing, and general whattheheckweretheythinking tirade(s) and cleaned up some of the mess I'd made before heading home.  AJ & I had tickets for a Sunday matinee of Dreamgirls at Toby's that weekend, so Mom took advantage of having the Pipsqueak on hand for almost an entire Sunday to have her go through all the toys and books to box up the things she didn't want any more, arrange things in "her" new "grown up" cabinet, and figure out the best way to store those things she wanted to keep but didn't use very often.  Miri rose to the challenge and by the time Mommy and Uncle Brian returned from the theater she had nearly everything in its new place and had decided she really liked the idea of the more grown-up style of storage.

And, lo and behold, the sea of boxes and baskets and such had been reduced to a single 3-drawer rolling thingy with Miri's art supplies, while everything else that she wanted to keep was neatly put away within or atop the Billy unit.  More importantly, the idea of the house still being hers  as much as anyone else's, and that part of the room being dedicated to her as her own personal space, was more concrete than ever.

In fact, the idea of that being the Pipsqueak's personal space was so well-reinforced, Mom said that shortly before AJ & I arrived she had gone into the family room and Miri -- who had been standing and looking around with that look on her face -- turned to her and quietly asked, "Grandma, would it be okay if we got something like a rug for my personal space to make it more comfortable for me to sit on the floor...?"

We're still tweaking things -- it's hard to find good bookends that don't cost a fortune -- but it's pretty obvious that my niece has no question about whether or not she "belongs" in that particular spot.

Now we just gotta figure out where to put the other 30+ cousins in November...