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, August 16, 2012

Growing Pains

My title refers, of course, to the "growing pains" experienced by the Pipsqueak's adults rather than those experienced by the Pipsqueak herself.

Miri is still definitely a Pipsqueak, but she's really not the teeny-tiny thing she was for most of her life; when I took a good look at my niece standing next to Mommy this past weekend, I realized that she is slowly but steadily getting taller, looking a lot more like a little girl than a toddler. (Okay, I know, after their 3rd birthday most kidlings are "kids" and not "toddlers" but when did she suddenly become so much bigger? For that matter, how did she turn three so quickly?!?)  When I got home later in the evening, I took a quick look at some of the (bazillion) photos I've taken of my niece and one in particular caught my eye:

There she is, jauntily marching off beside her Mommy to visit Scooby the horse last summer, the top of her head juuust coming even with the bottom of Mommy's tee. Fast-forward almost exactly one year and she's about a hand taller -- not a lot, but enough to really change the dynamics of how she moves in, and interacts with, her environment.

Gone are the days of walking easily under tables; also gone (thankfully!) are the days of us all having to remind her to duck when trying to walk under tables; now most tabletops are directly in her line of sight, and she has to really bend over to fit underneath. (Not that she's stopped wanting to go under the table, you understand; it just requires more calisthenics than it used to.)

Gone also (not so thankfully) are the days of hearing "Up!" and just slinging the Pipsqueak upwards against one's side or chest, then carrying her easily in the crook of an arm. We don't hear "Up!" as often as we used to -- definitely a bittersweet change -- but when we do it's invariably followed by an adult's "Urgh!" as the Pipsqueak is carefully hoisted into both arms, or carefully seated where our hips help support her weight. When time & place are appropriate, I've taken to helping Miri clamber up my side & back and seat her on my shoulders; she gets a better view (and loves laughingly telling everyone "I big now!")... and it's a lot easier for me to support her. (Dude, you left out the comment that it's the first time in her life that your niece weighs more than one of the big weights in your barbell set.)

Gone are the days of my niece "...going through life headfirst accompanied by the occasional loud THUNK!" Now she is likely the most limber, best-balanced, and most fearless member of the family. (Although I think her newest cousin down in Florida is showing signs of following the same path.) The kid's always had an interesting relationship with gravity, but now that she's started taking ballet lessons (yep, you read that right -- her choice, and she's loving it!) anyone in a room with the Pipsqueak is likely to be treated to a mini-recital complete with one-legged poses and pirouettes, all demonstrating rock-solid balance. (Unless, of course, she chooses to spin around until she's too dizzy to stand up -- but that's an "on purpose for fun" fall and doesn't count.)

Gone are the days of watching the Pipsqueak jump fearlessly off the equipment at little gym that's twice her height and laughing because "twice her height" is roughly equal to some of the steps we climbed on the Great Wall. Now we watch proudly with bated breath and nervous giggles when she jumps off equipment that's twice her height (or higher!) because now it's actually a bigger jump than any of us would willingly attempt.

Gone (almost) are the days of, "You've got her?" Now the perennial question is, "Where did she go?!" while AJ's little speedster zooms off on her own to investigate whatever caught her attention at a given moment. (Finding her is easy in some stores; just head in the general direction of frilly dresses or colorful shoes and she'll be there.) Equally gone are the days of lazily walking in the "far away enough to give her freedom, close enough to catch her when she falls" zone; now we all take turns in the "close enough to grab her quick before she gets away" zone. (Luckily, Miri's not one of those kids who can't wait to get away from her adult relatives; she just likes to check out anything interesting in an "up close and personal" manner.)

It's actually gotten to the point where I'm slowly beginning to realize I may not be able to refer to my niece as a "pipsqueak" too much longer. I'll probably always call her "Pipsqueak" (at least as long as she lets me), but I'm beginning to think that there's a bit of a growth spurt going on... The best evidence I have (in addition to all the points mentioned above) is the "Made in China" tee that AJ had bought as a joke just after getting TA in 2010. The shirt is small -- I don't know the exact size, but it's made for little children -- and here's how it fit the Pipsqueak her first night in her new home:

I have two more photos of Miri in that shirt, the first taken 13 months after the above photo and the second taken just a couple of weeks ago. (I'm not including them here because we're all still a bit leery of posting current, easily-identifiable photos of the Pipsqueak in a public Internet forum.) In the 2010 photo, you can see the sleeves still droop even though they're rolled all the way up, and the "tee" reaches almost halfway down between Miri's knees and ankles. Last year, it was big and baggy but kinda-sorta looked like a shirt instead of a dress. That same shirt now fits like a tee should, to the point where AJ's not sure Miri will fit into it next year.  (That's assuming the Pipsqueak will even put it on; unadorned tees aren't sufficiently frilly or "girlie" to meet with her approval, and this year's photo wasn't an entirely happy one as a result!) Viewing the three photos side-by-side leaves us all shaking our heads and quietly saying, "wow!" to each other; it's amazing how much of a change can happen unseen right in front of one's eyes when it happens over time...

Yep, it looks like my niece is definitely growing -- happily, healthily, and surprisingly rapidly -- but somehow it's her grandparents, Mommy, and Uncle Brian who are feeling the "growing pains" as she does!

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