Earlier this week, on a day my schedule had me working what most people would consider a normal shift, I was able to enjoy having a mid-week dinner with the whole family. The Pipsqueak was in fine form, happy to see her uncle and sitting on my lap to steal bits of food off my plate. As usual, Miri had us all laughing out loud with her antics and occasionally diving to protect her, or the cat, or a cup of soda, or... well, pretty much anything not nailed down.
However, there were two moments during the evening that just blew me away (in a really good way).
The Pipsqueak is extremely well-versed in the operation of Grandma & Grandpa's TV (specifically, the idea of the remote control). Mom & Dad keep their remotes in a little basket that's juuuust high enough to be out of the little one's reach, but she can identify the proper remote by sight in about two and a half nanoseconds. After dinner, when she tired of knocking over the towers her silly uncle was building with those big brick-patterned cardboard blocks, she pointed to the TV and (with increasing insistence) kept asking me, "gigi?" (pronounced "gee-gee," with a hard "g"... as in "rhymes with TV"). Her mommy said a few Wiggles songs wouldn't hurt so I headed for the basket with the remotes -- and stopped dead when I noticed the TV remote missing.
I turned around and asked, "where's the remote?" and was only slightly surprised to see my 21-month-old niece immediately begin looking around the room (she understands waaay more than she can verbalize). However, Dad & I were shocked when she noticed the remote sitting atop the sofa back, pointed at it, and very clearly told me, "Up there!" Don't get me wrong; this kid's sufficiently scary smart for us to be used to regular surprises at how much she understands, but she hasn't put together all the pieces like that before -- it was like I'd asked someone at least twice her age to find the remote for me.
The next "Oh, wow!" moment came about half an hour later, after the Pipsqueak had bounced along to "Hot Potato" and a few other favorites. We had turned off the TV and AJ was trying to convince her daughter it was time to go home. My niece bent over, misjudged the distance, and started to fall forward. Not a big deal normally -- but she was close to a heavy wood-framed footstool and smacked headfirst into the frame with the characteristic loud THUNK! we've all learned to worry about. All the grownups chorused variations of "uh, oh!" and there was a moment of stunned silence, and then the crying began.
And then my niece did something she hasn't done before.
Crying and upset, with a growing red patch on her forehead, she came running directly to me for comfort. As I rocked & hugged her and tried to calm her down, I was seriously torn between feeling sorry for her and feeling absolutely thrilled at her choice to have her uncle comfort her after a scary knock on the head. After a few minutes she toddled over to her mommy for more comforting (while yours truly retrieved the Disney princess cold pack from the freezer). As usual, it was a bigger deal to hold the cold pack to the Pipsqueak's forehead than the wound itself had been, and the wound itself quickly went from little red bump to big pink bump to almost completely gone in just a few minutes... but somehow all the way home I had a warm glow from Miri's choice to run to me for comforting.
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!