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, January 24, 2012

"You Really Like Me!" (Apologies to Sally Field)

Gong xi fa cai, y'all!

Well, the Pipsqueak is feeling better than she was during my last post... Of course, we had a couple of days when she first started to feel good where she was a bit like a (very small) force of nature... and then she started to readjust to feeling the way she usually does and got crochety again because it was no longer FEELING GOOD! but more like, yeah, I'm okay.

(Of course, yours truly never goes through the same kind of cycle. Nope, never. Not me. <ahem> Oh, hush...)

Anyway, now that she's herself again, the Pipsqueak is (as always) fun to be with. Her imagination, her ability at role playing, her desire to share with us are all still happily astonishing and it's literally impossible for us to not smile and take time out of any- and everything we're doing to coo at each other over something Miri just said or did. (Or occasionally to cringe at a particularly loud THUNK! -- plus ça change...) There's been a bunch of craziness going on that has nothing to do with her (thus the longish gap between postings here), so I'll just kvell publicly over a couple of the nicer moments...

We've all gotten used to the general-purpose phrase, "need up!" -- we hear it when she's scared, wants a better perch, wants to participate in something, wants a cuddle, is feeling lazy, when she... you get the idea. Well, we'd all gotten a couple or three iterations of "need up" during one evening when my niece came bopping over to me, reached up, and said, "I want you to hold me!" Miri had never said anything like that before, and it took me a moment to react so she said it again... and she had it right, this wasn't "up!" for some specific purpose, she wanted to be picked up and hugged for a moment before going back to playing. (The hug only lasted a few moments, but -- at least for me -- the warm feeling persisted well into the next day. <g>)

A few evenings later, we all decided to meet at a local restaurant for dinner and I was (rather unusually) the first one there. The folks were coming from their house in their car, and AJ was bringing the Pipsqueak from their abode so I found myself sitting alone at a large booth while the place filled up around me. Finally, squinting through the dim light (I don't know if it's for "atmosphere" or for "our electric bill is too high") I saw AJ standing at the hostess station with the Pipsqueak in her arms. She didn't see me, but when I stood up & waved my arms over my head, I got to see my niece begin frantically waving back while bouncing up & down in mommy's arms, and I could hear "UNCLE BIYAN!" clearly over the rest of the noise.  Gotta admit, the feeling was far better than the food...

Then, this past Saturday was the Pipsqueak's latest Little Gym "graduation" (haven't missed one yet!). I got there a few minutes late, and Mom & Dad urged me to move quickly because AJ had left her camera home and the battery on theirs died as soon as they turned it on... But I didn't get to take as many photos as I wanted because the Pipsqueak wanted a hug(!) as soon as she saw me, and then spent a fair portion of the session directing me where to stand ("No! You go there!") when not terrifying us all by climbing on (dangerously high and/or unstable) things stacked in the corner instead of doing what the rest of the class was doing.  When we stopped at a Mickey D's on the way home, she again asked me to pick her up -- there was a comment made about the grandparents being chopped liver when Uncle Brian was around, but it was said with a smile -- whenever I headed toward the counter (for more napkins, for more of the creamer she liked to drink, for more napkins, for more ketchup, for more napkins, or for more napkins... <sigh>)

Finally, we had a late lunch Sunday at our favored Chinese restaurant in honor the start of the Year of the Dragon. (We knew it officially began Monday, but we couldn't all get together on Monday.) After charming the waitress (and returning a shy "how" when given a "ni hao!"), demolishing Mommy's plate while the food sat untouched on hers, and repeatedly sliding off the booth bench to play under the table (this stopped when she smacked her head on the side of the table despite AJ's best efforts to control her contortionist daughter's movements)... the Pipsqueak wanted to play... outside in the cold... with her uncle! We got into our coats and had a good time exploring the sidewalk for a while, and then I had to help AJ bargain Miri into her seat in the minivan. After that I had to spend a few minutes explaining to a disappointed little girl that I couldn't come back to her house to play some more because I had to go home and wash my laundry (something she does understand) and take a nap (something she doesn't) and do other "grownup stuff" that left her unhappy... but I got a less unhappy "Okay!" when I promised I'd come over to her house another day and we'd play together, just the two of us (I knew she really meant it was okay when she told me, "you go home!" a few seconds later).

Isn't it funny how knowing that such a tiny person really likes me is such a big thing?  Some folks have said she's lucky to have such a caring family -- but the truth is we're the lucky ones. Especially me, since my schedule limits my time with her more than anyone else's.

So I don't really mind when the Pipsqueak kicks me and asks commands me to go away when she's not feeling well... Because more often than not, she lets me know she really likes me. And that, as the commercial says, is priceless.

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