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, April 15, 2014

Millstones and Milestones

Hi again... I'm back. I spent about a week looking like I'd lost a fight with several baseball bats, and while it's wonderful to have vision slowly returning, I would most definitely not recommend a vitrectomy to anyone interested in recreational surgery (assuming there is such a thing). I'm still at my folks' and will probably be here another day or two, and will be out of work a week longer than planned because I still can't drive safely (to quote the surgeon, "It's legal to drive with just one eye BUT..."), but the eye's in good shape and things are (quite literally) looking better every day.

The thing is, while staying with my folks I've been unable to do much of anything to help them out. I managed to get the kitchen table (verrry slowwwly) cleaned off one day, and I've forced their Comcast modem to play nice with the Internet, and changed the ink in their printer, but that ain't a whole lotta stuff accomplished for two weeks. During the same two weeks, Mom's had to prepare extra food for three meals daily, do several extra loads of laundry, deal with me being underfoot as much as Tigger, and put the drops in my eye several times a day.

Then there's the whole thing with sleeping arrangements. I had to spend the first three days after surgery laying face down. Not a problem, we thought, there's Cousin E's old massage table, custom-made to keep people comfortable in that position! Well, it turns out that massage tables aren't terribly comfortable if you're on them for many hours at a time without an actual massage anywhere in sight; my lower back would usually start screaming at me after just 2-3 hours and we'd try all kinds of other arrangements. The 3rd day was the worst, with even my forehead getting super-sensitive from the constant (unusual) pressure, and then when I graduated to sleeping in a regular bed I discovered that the old trundle bed in AJ's old room isn't much softer than the beds in Chinese hotels. We finally stumbled into the solution of an old sleep sofa with a big ol' king-size foam mattress pad flopped over it. (Dude, now you just gotta convince the cat he isn't entitled to the entire space at night!)

So here I've been, occupying space and causing lots of extra work for my folks while occasionally caroming off a wall or door frame or knocking things over due to a near-total lack of depth perception. I feel like a bit of a millstone draped around their necks, and will be glad to be able to help out more as my vision returns.

So there's the millstone (me); now on to the milestones...

The first Wednesday after my operation, Mom had a funny look on her face after getting off the phone with AJ.  Ever since she came home in 2010, Miri has absolutely refused to take a bath if Grandma wasn't there to help. (By "help" I mean watch, compliment the Pipsqueak on her singing or dancing, hold the towel, etc.) Well, it seems that even my niece has a level of grunginess beyond which she won't venture, and she consented to have Mommy give her a bath without Grandma being present. She told Mom "I was brave, Grandma, and I had a bath with Mommy while you were not here!"  Mom's expression said it all (and she admitted it a few minutes later); it was an important milestone, but also a tad bittersweet... Her baby granddaughter had taken another big step in the growing up process, and while she's relieved, she's not really sure how she feels about it.  (Miri has since taken a second bath sans Grandma, but on the phone told her that, "It okay, Grandma, I can still take a bath with you here with Mommy and me.")

A couple of days after, on the way to AJ's house after picking up the Pipsqueak at daycare, Mom & Dad were talking with her and she complained, "I tired, I sweggy, and I hot!"  It took a moment for "sweggy" to translate into Standard English (sweaty), but we all liked it so much that we've all taken to using the term.

On another ride home early last week, Miri was describing her day to Grandma and the conversation took a turn something like this: "Grandma, I am tired!" "Me too, hunny bunny." "Sometimes being tired can make us hungry, can't it, Grandma?" "That's right, honey! How did you know that?" "I don't know, Grandma. [pause] Sometimes my head just gives me hints!"

The next isn't exactly a milestone, but at least the Pipsqueak's learned where certain body parts are supposed to be... While she was dancing (to "Let It Go" from Frozen, of course!) at Grandma & Grandpa's house, either Mom or AJ suggested she wiggle her hips. Miri stopped with a puzzled look, then pulled one side of her pants partway down with one hand and pulled up her shirt with the other and carefully looked to see where her hips were (she's pretty straight up-and-down at this point).

And, on a much sadder note, one last milestone... This past Saturday, a couple of old friends were in town so a whole bunch of us got together for dinner (including my folks, who've known many of my friends since we were all "tweenagers"). One had her twenty-something youngest son Tim with her, and he & Miri took a particular shine to each other, even going so far as to go outside the restaurant for a few minutes to color pictures in the last of the late afternoon sunlight.  Jen and Tim started the long drive back home to Michigan early on Sunday... and early Monday morning she was the first to find him on the bathroom floor where he'd fallen (hard) in the dark not too long after they'd gotten home and everyone had gone to bed. Rest in peace, Tim, I remember you as a pudgy little baby and you'd grown into a fine, caring young man who deserved many more (long, happy and healthy) years here with us. You will be remembered, and you will be missed.

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