I used to say that my parents had a better social life than I did. (Dude, it's true — you gotta get you a life!) Well, lately, my niece has been putting them to shame. For example, this past weekend she attended three birthday parties in two days! Two of the parties, happily a day apart, were held at the same fire station.
Yes, I said fire station — who woulda thunk it? The kidlings got to "drive" a real fire truck (read: sit in the driver's seat while it was parked in the garage), put out a real house fire (read: use a stream of water to knock down blocks in a model house), tour the fire station, and hold a water bucket relay (read: make a lot of moms who hadn't thought to bring along a change of clothes really, really nervous). All in all, a blast for the Pipsqueak & company, and AJ managed to get a cute photo of my niece "driving" the fire truck with a ginormous smile on her face. (AJ admitted there were many missed photo ops & video ops because yours truly hadn't taught her the trick of using the iPhone camera without going through the entire unlock process. Argh.)
And, just to make the Jiu Jiu feel older, one of the parties was celebrating the 4th birthday of one of the grandsons of someone I went to junior high school with. I can feel them ol' bones creaking... (Hi, Kathy!)
One of the not-so-good things that happened over the past few weeks was a bit of a shocker. We were all over at Mom & Dad's and the Pipsqueak was busy decimating a bunch of grapes. Just as Miri went to put a particularly big & juicy grape in her mouth, it slipped out of her hand and rolled across the floor under a chair. Well, I'm not exactly sure where or how she picked up this particular expression, but my cute, darling, innocent little niece stomped her foot angrily and let out a nice, loud, "goddammit!" with all the vehemence & inflection one would expect of someone many times her age.
There was a shocked silence in the room — I think Miri realized she'd let a cat she wasn't supposed to have out of a bag she wasn't supposed to be holding — and then she got a bit of a talking-to from Mommy. Not loud, not angry, but decidedly vehement and serious. We haven't heard anything like that since despite a couple of oopsies, so I think AJ got her point across to her daughter.
But still... Yikes!
The Pipsqueak is showing increased interest in letters and numbers of late, and is getting pretty good at printing her name. (Others as well, but with help; spelling is the next adventure.) When things got complicated (again!) a few weeks back and I had to pick Miri up at daycare & take her to work so AJ could turn around and take her home, she demonstrated how good she's gotten at counting all the way up to 30. This was followed by a request to learn bigger numbers, so we got all the way up to 100 before everything morphed into a discussion of how old everyone in the family is. Grandma & Grandpa got surprised comments along the lines of, "That's a big number! That's a big age!" while Mommy's age garnered a simple, "Ok, okay." My age, however, was met with a loud, laughing, "Uncle Brian, you are old!" (She later followed up with an impromptu, "I love you" so I didn't mind. No, really, I didn't!)
The "heart melter" I referred to in my title also came about three weeks ago. I had gotten home from work lateand had literally just laid my head on my pillow when my cell phone started ringing. Now, I don't know about you, but when a phone rings at 3:00am (yes, that does indeed say three o'clock in the morning), my heart rate heads for the stratosphere and my first thought is something along the lines of, WHAT'S WRONG?!? The ringtone was the one assigned to AJ, so all I could think of was either Dulce had died on the bed (she's been sick lately) or Miri had gone onto the floor headfirst.
AJ knows her brother well; instead of "hello" she greeted me with, "Everything is alright!" She then went on to explain that about 15 minutes earlier, Miri had woken suddenly from a nightmare in a tearful panic, absolutely convinced that Uncle Brian had gotten badly cut and had to go to the hospital. No matter what AJ said, my niece simply would not, could not, calm down and go back to sleep without making sure I was alright. AJ handed the phone over to her and I heard this quiet, little-girl voice asking, "Uncle Brian, I had a dream, are you okay?" I reassured Miri (several times) that I was fine and that it was all just a dream & not real, and she finally said "Okay" and gave the phone back to AJ. The next night, AJ called me (on my cell) at work around 9:00pm and said that Miri was still worried about me. Once again, I had a short talk with the Pipsqueak, reassuring her that the previous night was just a bad dream and that I really, truly was okay and not hurt at all. I finally got a cheerful, "Okay! Thank you! I love you!" and my caring, loving little niece headed off to bed while AJ and I said goodnight. (She asked me one more time in person the following weekend, closing the episode with a nice, big hug.)
I don't need to pick the petals off a flower going, "she loves me, she loves me not..." because I already know the answer. That's a pretty special kid my sister's got. <smile>
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!