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, September 27, 2012

Striking A Bargain

I just wanted to share a quick vignette from Tuesday night.  We were leaving Kol Nidre services and stopped to say goodnight to Jerry, one of the school system's security staff who's become a good friend over the years. As the grownups talked, the Pipsqueak -- who'd been outside playing in the lobby under Mommy's watchful eye several minutes for each minute she was actually in the auditorium with us during the service -- began walking away. As in, hey, it's time to go. As in, heading for the exit 20 feet away from us entirely on her own just as a flood of people began to leave the auditorium.

Both AJ and I quietly asked Miri to come back, then less quietly asked, and then I told her in no uncertain terms that she was not listening well, that I was not playing with her now, that we were not asking but telling her, and that she was to immediately come closer to us. I only raised my voice enough to counter the sudden increase in noise from all the people now in the lobby with us, but you can bet I used a tone that made it clear I was deadly serious.

Well, my niece being my niece, she put on a really unhappy face and began that whining, passive-aggressive, oh-so-slow inching back from where she wanted to be. At that point we all started toward her (the leading edge of the crowd was fast approaching), and AJ quickly corralled her daughter and lifted her out of harm's way.

Usually, if one of us tells her to either not do what she wants to or to do what she doesn't want to, a significant portion of the Pipsqueak's response will be an emphatic statement that she doesn't like that person any more and a real effort to remain as physically far from the offending adult as possible until she's tired of sulking. Imagine my surprise, then, when Miri said she wanted me to carry her as we walked back to the car only moments later. AJ handed her off to me, and I hoisted her up over my hip and resumed walking.

I had taken just a few steps when Miri quietly asked, "Uncle Brian, why did you say to me what you said before?" I immediately knew she was referring to my extra-stern command to come back to the rest of the family away from the door, so I explained (in as gentle a voice as possible) that I had been worried she might get caught in the crowd leaving and could get hurt or lost, and that none of us wanted that to ever happen to her. I added that I had spoken the way I did because she had not listened to any of us when we asked her "more nicely" like a big girl would.

The Pipsqueak thought about it for a moment, then very seriously said, "Okay, but don't ever say that to me ever again!" I stifled a laugh (and I think I heard both AJ & Mom do the same behind me) and I replied, "Okay, but only if you don't make me have to say that again and listen when we ask you to come closer. I'll keep my part of the bargain if you keep your part of the bargain, okay?"

I got an oh-so-serious, nose-to-nose hard look, and then a bright & happy, "Okay!" and the conversation immediately turned to how I should run because we were being chased alternately by a crocodile or a scary monster (her two favorite games of the moment).

The thing is, I'm pretty sure Miri really did take in what I was saying, and gave it some real consideration before answering. She's a smart kiddo, and has already proven far better at bargaining and negotiation than her young age would suggest. I don't know when she'll test me on our bargain -- experience tells me she will, oh yes, she will! -- but I doubt she'll forget it or reneg on her part.

But wow, she sure looked tiny standing alone in that doorway with that crowd heading in her direction...!

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