Not too long ago, AJ sent me a photo she took with her iPhone of my niece all smiley and giggly and proud to be starting her first day of school, complete with backpack and lunchbox.
That photo's really not all that old... and yet I now have photos (taken by the mommy of one of the Pipsqueak's friends, since AJ couldn't get the day off) of Miri and three of her BFFs sharing their last lunch in the school cafeteria as kindergarteners.
Today is the first day of the Pipsqueak's first summer vacation... HOW THE HECK DID AN ENTIRE SCHOOL YEAR GO BY SO FAST?!?!
(Dude, breathe... inhale... exhale... that's right... there ya go...)
In addition to now having completed a full year of school (and don't you dare try to tell the Pipsqueak that Kindergarten isn't "real" school -- especially since she's already testing above a 1st grade level in most subjects), Miri's finally had the experience of performing in a real show on a real stage in front of a real (paying) audience. Her Chinese school dance class was combined with a Chinese folk dance school for an end-of-year/graduation performance this past weekend. The show (which lasted over two hours and included several performances by professional dancers on the faculty) was presented in the performing arts center of a nearby community college, and our girls didn't even get onstage until several performances after intermission. (I say "our girls" because the daughters of several good friends from our adoption group are in the class with Miri.)
Sure, they've performed in front of larger crowds (the CNY celebrations at Lakeforest Mall attract quite a mob), but this was the first time on an actual professional-siezed proscenium stage with professional lighting & sound. Also, just as she has with every previous performance of the ribbon dance, the girls' teacher added quite a bit of new choreography so it was also the longest performance they've ever done. In addition, it's the first time all the girls in the class could attend a performance, so the actual moves, spacing, and timing were all different. Combine all that with the fact that there's a ten-year span between the Pipsqueak (the youngest) and the oldest girl, and you can imagine what kind of variation there is in both physical capabilities and physical size between the girls...
...but they pulled it off like champs. (Insert kvelling here.)
Oh, sure, Miri tripped over one of the other girls about 30 seconds into the performance, and about a minute later one of the girls lost her balance during a prolonged back bend pose, and because the performance area was so much bigger than any they'd used before poor Miri had to move her legs about twice as fast as the other girls just to keep up with them... but they recovered from all the little gaffes with aplomb, nobody forgot any steps, the ribbons were all kept swirling prettily in the air, and the girls got probably the biggest (and most frequent) audience reaction of any group in the show. (And I'll insert an apology here for a total lack of photos. There was a zero tolerance no photography rule clearly printed on the programs -- AJ paid in advance for the professional video recording of the show, we're hoping to get the DVD soon -- and when I reviewed the after-show photos I discovered that none of them would pass AJ's privacy inspection. Sorry, but them's the rules!)
I was even more impressed when, a couple of acts later, the class of girls all the same age & experience as the Pipsqueak presented their performance -- and pretty & cute as it was, the dance was much simpler and shorter than what Miri & her classmates presented.* So now in addition to having a full year of school under her belt, I can now refer to my niece as a semi-professional dancer! (Did I mention that a couple of weeks back she told me she wants to be on TV?)
* Unlike some earlier performances, there were no wardrobe malfunctions (but one little girl in another group lost her skirt moments into her performance), no technical gaffes (despite the sound tech seemingly trying to blast the walls down with extra-heavy bass in some acts), and the girls stayed sharp, alert, and well-behaved even though they'd started with a full-scale dress rehearsal at 5:45pm for a show that didn't start until 8pm and didn't end until 10:15pm). Lots of proud mamas & papas there!
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!