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, January 12, 2012

Hit the Road, Jack!

A few days ago, I was happily posting about the Pipsqueak telling me, "I love you" and hugging me -- two days in a row, in fact!

Well, she's got another one of those ridiculous colds of hers, the kind where she'll fall asleep for just a few minutes and wake up choking & gagging because she's so congested, where her sinuses get jam-packed full so her ears hurt, where her face spends much of its time being a snotty mess... I know what I feel like when I'm like that, I can only imagine how bad it is for a little girl who can't quite comprehend the medical explanations, the assurances that this too shall pass, the need for not doing some fun things (and for doing some not fun things)...

Needless to say, the Pipsqueak hasn't exactly been in the best of moods for the past couple of days, and Wednesday was the worst. I got a call from Mom long before I was ready to wake up (after getting home after 2:00am, I have no idea how she & Dad got up!). AJ was at work, and they were keeping the Pipsqueak company because she wasn't well enough to go back to daycare yet -- but they'd just gotten a call from the body shop and their car was ready* a couple of days earlier than planned, would they please come and pick it up...?

*This was the result of a harried mother speaking face-to-face with her kids in the back seat of her minivan while backing out of a parking spot rather than either looking into the rear-view mirror or settling the internecine war before moving her vehicle... let that be a reminder to us all!

We bargained on a time (I really don't know how she & Dad got up so early!) and I dozed back off for a while, then got myself up & out and over to their house...

...which was dark and empty, since they were at AJ's (Mom didn't want the Pipsqueak out in the cold rain while she was sick).  I wound up getting there almost 45 minutes later than planned and Mom met me at the door with a loud, "SHHHH!" because the Pipsqueak had finally fallen asleep. Oh, sure, she was actually sitting up on the couch wedged into a corner tangled up with her blankie and snoring up a storm -- but she was actually sleeping for the first time in far too many hours so we spoke in whispers and tread as lightly as possible.

About 45 minutes after our folks headed out, Miri began stirring on the couch so I walked around to where she could see me, crouched down to her level (but not too close so as not to scare her), and gave a quiet but cheery, "Hi, there!" when she opened her eyes. The Pipsqueak rubbed her eyes, snorted a couple of times, looked blearily at me for a moment, and...

"Go away!"

Ouch!  "I'm sorry, Honey. Did you have a good sleep?"

"No. GO AWAY."

Well, it kinda went downhill from there, and I spent the next 20+ minutes sitting nearby, listening to the Pipsqueak crying steadily with only the occasional interruption for a choke or sneeze. Any attempt to comfort her, communicate with her, or cover her bare feet when she showed signs of nodding off was met with an angry "GO AWAY!" and the occasional push or kick (or both).

She finally just could not fight her exhaustion and finally fell asleep sprawled across the couch. (I have no idea how someone so tiny could possibly cover that much couch, but she done did it.) Mom called to let me know they were on the way back and we spoke for a while, with me happily letting her know her granddaughter had gone back to sleep, was breathing easily & quietly, and had no apparent fever. The call ended with my folks about 10 minutes away.

Whereupon the Pipsqueak woke up, took one look at me, and angrily demanded that I go away before the tears began again.

By this point, I was pretty much ready to cry myself; I wanted to do something -- anything! -- to make her feel better, and all she wanted me to do was leave! Ugh... She did finally stop crying just as her Grandma & Grandpa came up the steps to the door but remained perilously upset.  It was now so late in the afternoon that I had just enough time to get home & change for work (so much for the shower I needed!) so I gathered up my things, put on my coat, and headed for the door after bidding my folks good luck.

But then, just before I had fully turned away, an idea floated into my head. I understood why the Pipsqueak suddenly seemed to hate even the sight of her Uncle Brian, but I didn't want to just walk out on such a sour note. I didn't know if the thought would occur to her, but I didn't want her to have to deal with the possibility of thinking I left without the usual goodbye & I-love-yous because she felt so lousy she'd told me to go away. (I'll admit it was likely to be bothering me while not even occurring to her... but the kid's surprised me with her understanding of complex ideas in the past and I didn't want this to be one of them.)

 I went back to the couch and quietly told her I was sorry to go but that I had to go to work (something she does understand from prior experience with me & Mommy), and that I hoped we could play together when she felt better. She just looked at me, not saying anything but not crying either. Then I said, "I love you," kissed her on the top of her head, and waved bye-bye as I moved away.  She was busy scratching a bug bite on her hand but -- still not saying anything -- raised her hand and gave me a small but definite wave before going back to scratching. No tears, no "go away" or other drama; everything considered, I felt pretty good about the whole exchange.

And somewhere in the depths of my mind, an angry loudmouthed teenager is analyzing a whole new perspective on unhappy verbal exchanges with his parents almost four decades in the past... <sigh>

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