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!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Wherein Uncle brian Picks up the Pipsqueak After School

With all that's been going on lately, I haven't had a chance to write much about the Pipsqueak's new daycare. (Yes, yes, of course there's lots of other stuff going on, I just want to write about this particular subject right now!)

As mentioned in a couple of earlier posts, the Pipsqueak's original daycare provider made a series of negative changes and then basically proceeded to lie about them -- so the Pipsqueak is now attending a different preschool that's thankfully not much farther from home. We had all noticed some behavior changes, with the smallest member of the family singing & yakking it up less than usual for days at a time, but by the end of her first week at the new place Miri was back to her usual self. She's had a couple of play dates with her favorite little friend from the original preschool but is making new friends and every day she comes home with a handwritten report from her teacher, every one of which seems to be gushing out positives about her ability to adjust to new situations, to make new friends, to tackle new challenges... all the abilities & behaviors we'd already begun taking for granted.

Since the schedules of all four of the Pipsqueak's grownups have been getting wilder by the day, there was one afternoon when I had to pick her up at the daycare center and take her to work with me, where AJ kept her occupied for a little longer (while trying, without much success, to finish her own work with Miri "helping") and then carted her on back home. That afternoon I put my GPS up on the dashboard and headed off into uncharted territory.

Just about the time I realized the strange "bonging" noises I heard were warning tones from the GPS and not something on the radio, I witnessed the two cars immediately in front of me getting flashed by a speed camera (just one of a bajillion that have sprung up around the area and that are, unfortunately, multiplying like bunny rabbits). I stomped on the brakes with one eye on the rear-view mirror and was happy to not see a flash as I passed the camera -- only to realize I had to turn right here! in order to reach the daycare center.

You'll be glad to know a Toyota RAV4 does indeed balance nicely on just two wheels.

Anyway, I walked through the front door, then (using the code AJ had given me the night before) buzzed myself in through a second set of heavy doors. and then walked through a third heavy door only to have a young woman, a toddler in her arms, suddenly materialize in front of me. I started to stammer out something about AJ being at work and my being there to pick up my niece when the nice lady gave me a big smile and sweetly said, "You must be Miri's Uncle Brian! Can I see a photo ID, please?"

I decided I liked the place. (Later on AJ told me I had been dealing with the center's Director, and I liked it even better.)

My identity firmly established (after which I noticed our family photo from a few weeks back up on the wall in the office alongside several others), I was escorted through several parcels of low-level chaos to find the Pipsqueak playing happily with another little girl. She came running over as soon as she saw me, then stopped dead in her tracks.

"Where Grandma and Grandpa?"  I explained that Grandpa needed new glasses and that Grandma had gone with him, but that they weren't ready yet so I was picking her up instead.

"Where is Mommy?"  Uh-oh.  I explained Mommy was at work, and that I had a big surprise for her -- we were going to go right now to meet Mommy at work, wasn't that going to be fun...?

"Where is Mommy's work?" I had to think about that one (and do so under pressure, since now the Director and two instructors were watching the exchange). After Miri asked the same question a third time, I had a brainstorm.

"Do you want to know the address?"

"Yeh!"Bingo! I told her the address, then gave a quick run-down of the route we'd follow to get there, and my niece was once again all smiles, starting to drag me toward the door with a firm, "We go now! I go to Mommy at work!" I suggested a pit stop would be a good idea first, so of course Miri wanted me to follow her into the bathroom. I was trying to figure out how to handle that particular situation when a young man who worked there told me it was alright, the Pipsqueak could do it by herself -- and he was indeed right about it! While Miri took care of her business, I amused myself by watching the young man negotiating with a little boy ("You're only two and a half, don't you want to go back to your group with the other little boys and girls your age?" "No! I almost three!"). A quick visit to Miri's cubby -- she led me confidently on an almost arrow-straight path across three classrooms to get there -- and we had everything needed for the ride.

As I directed her toward my car, she asked, "Is this your car now, Uncle Brian?" and when I reassured her it was indeed my new car, she stopped, gave it a thorough once-over, and pronounced it "shiny" with a smile. There was a little negotiating once I'd opened the door -- something about her driving while I sat in the back! -- and eventually we were on our way. Of course, I drove a lot more carefully with the precious cargo in the back, and had to keep up a running account of where on our route we were, what the next major landmark would be, and how much longer it would be before we arrived at Mommy's work, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable ride for us both. (As usual, Miri nodded off about 30 seconds before the end of the trip, but knowing we were at Mommy's work kept the usual just-woke-up-from-nap crankiness at bay.)

All in all, a good first visit to preschool by Miri's Jiujiu. if I say so myself.

Oh, and those daily reports in which her teachers constantly sing the Pipsqueak's praises? A few days later, AJ got one the mentioned Miri "really loves her puppy" -- which is strange, because she shares her house with Mommy and two cats, nary a canine in sight. Dropping the Pipsqueak off the next morning, AJ asked if the teacher meant Miri really loved her little stuffed Doggy (who still goes everywhere with her) and was told no, the teacher had been referring to the new puppy Miri had at home; she'd stood up and told the whole class all about how she helped feed it, and how they would play together, and how she would help Mommy take the puppy for walks outside...

So now we know "fer surrre" that Miri likes her new preschool, because her imagination is running at full throttle... and her storytelling is totally believable, even for experienced daycare workers! I'm going to have to keep that in mind...

...but at least we all know she's having fun in school again!

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