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, December 8, 2011

Holy Cow, Where'd THAT Come From?

I started this post a couple of days before AJ & the Pipsqueak had their little automotive adventure, and things have finally moved close enough to what passes for normal 'round these parts for me to want to get back to posting what I had originally planned to say...


Ever since AJ's paperchasing days, we've all talked about (to varying degrees at varying times) how to deal with possible situations resulting from the Pipsqueak being adopted and/or of a different ethnicity from her immediate family. We've read books, we've done research online, we've discussed some of the issues... in short, since early in the adoption process we've been aware of the issues related to foreign/transracial adoption and have been trying to prepare for the day when this bright, inquisitive little girl notices something is different and begins asking questions.

Somewhere along the way, what had been a major item of concern -- the fact that AJ was going to be a single mother -- faded into the background. Some of our most serious concerns were muted at the first seminar held by AJ's agency, where we met another single mom who was preparing for her 2nd China adoption... not to mention AJ's single friend who had turned her on to the Chinese program and was also preparing for her 2nd adoption. Of course, the concerns haven't completely gone away; it's just become How Things Are and with the exception of the extra complexities single motherhood introduces (on a daily basis) into everyone's schedule, it has essentially become a non-issue for us.

During dinner a couple of weeks a bit over a month ago, something happened that popped it right back into the foreground for me.

As usual, we all got together for dinner, and it was one of those times when the Pipsqueak really needed a nap but really, really didn't want one... so she was acting very two-ish. (The Pipsqueak's Grandma keeps commenting on how Uncle Brian also used to always fight against falling asleep no matter how tired he was, and how difficult he could be when that happened... but it must've been another Uncle Brian, not me, uh unh, I know I was a wonderful child who never misbehaved or caused any problems...)

Of course, when there's a tired, crochety two-year-old at the dinner table who wants to [fill in the blank with anything a two-year-old shouldn't do at the dinner table], one usually ends up with a tired, crochety, LOUD two-year-old. Luckily, Miri's only thrown a couple of major-league tantrums since joining the family, so it was just one of her "I'm gonna make myself cry no matter how much work it is" sessions. She even got distracted at one point, forgot she was supposed to be having a meltdown, and then picked up again right where she left off... Nothing major, but definitely not how any of us felt like spending dinnertime, either!

AJ does a really good job of un-pushing the Pipsqueak's buttons, quietly talking to her & reasoning with her to speed the calming down process, but my niece was just too over-tired to come all the way back down. I ended up tuning the whole scene halfway out, keeping just enough attention focused on the interplay between mother & daughter to know if I was being asked for input without actually becoming part of all the sturm und drang -- it's very clear in my mind that I may be the Jiujiu, but AJ is this little girl's parent and she sets the rules & decides when & how to enforce them.

In any case, we seemed to be on the downhill leg of the largest of the Pipsqueak's meltdowns when she managed to grab me firmly by my lapels and give me a good shaking (figuratively speaking).

The mother-daughter exchange was not going in the direction Miri wanted, with every "I want X" being quietly countered by AJ... so all of a sudden she replaced all her demands of "I want Mommy to give me X" or "I want Mommy to do Y" with a loud, tearful, clearly enunciated, "I want Daddy!"

Whoa... Where the blazes did that come from?

I've got to hand it to my sister; without missing a beat, maintaining the same tone of voice she'd been using, she said, "You don't have a daddy... Every family is a little different, and you have your Grandma who loves you, and you have your Papawho loves you, and you have your Uncle Brian who loves you, and I love you very much, but you don't have a Daddy."

* We don't know why, but some weeks back the Pipsqueak very suddenly switched from calling Dad "Grandpa" to calling him "Papa" most of the time.

I was quietly freaking out over my niece's totally unexpected comment but all she did was snuggle into her Mommy for a moment (while, of course, working to keep the drama flowing) and then let herself get sidetracked by some food. Oh, the tantrum wasn't quite over -- after a couple of quiet minutes, Miri remembered she was supposed to be protesting having rules imposed -- but everything slipped immediately back into normalcy.

Except for one minor thing: Now I'm trying to figure out how to answer likely future questions not about birthplace, or appearance, or ethnicity... but about why the Pipsqueak has her "Papa" and Uncle Brian around most of the time but there's no one named "Daddy" hanging around like he does with all her little friends. I'm back to Square One, it seems; time to dust off those links to single-parent resources online and do a little reading. (And I'm sure I'll be returning to this subject in future blog posts as well.)

Apparently, one does not need to be a parent to have parenting adventures...!

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