When we as adults look back on our childhoods, we tend to say things like, "it was all so simple then," or maybe "life was a lot less complicated."
Some years back I began thinking that was more a function of memory than a function of fact. Parents tend to shield their children from the uglier, more complicated aspects of life, and it usually takes us many years of growth & development to get to the point where we can truly grasp the form, shape, attributes, complications, etc. of any issue or situation (and now I understand why Heinlein invented the word "grok").
At least equally important, and likely playing an even greater role in the belief that everything was simple as a child, is the human tendency to gloss over small details, unpleasant events, and mildly negative emotions in memory. Also playing a role is (at least in my mind) the fact that it's so so very easy to become overwhelmed by all the complications, repercussions, and results of all that we deal with as adults that we tend to look back at a time we didn't have to deal with all that "stuff" with rose-colored glasses.
In any case, regardless of the how & why, things really aren't always all that simple, worry-free, and zen-like in a child's thoughts. Links are made between events and ideas just as in the adult mind -- it's just that children tend to lack the vocabulary & other tools necessary to communicate all that's going on inside those not-so-simple minds of theirs.
Take, for example, an exchange the Pipsqueak had with her Grandma early this evening.
Mom got a call from our aunt letting her know that Uncle M (Mom's kid brother) had been admitted to a local hospital for observation & tests after experiencing some rather strange symptoms. All week, when they spoke on the phone, Mom had been telling him "you don't sound right" and was put off with "you always say that," or, "I'm just really tired" each time so the news packed an extra wallop for her.
Unfortunately, Miri was at the house when the call came in and, no matter how hard Mom tried to mask what was being spoken about, speak in another room, use coded language, and so on, Little Miss Radar Ears very quickly picked up on the fact that her second-favorite uncle was in the hospital.
Mom had barely hung up the phone when the interrogation began. Why was he in the hospital? What was wrong with him? Would he be okay? What were the doctors going to do? The questions came fast & furious, and Mom spent a long time trying to explain the situation as best she could, trying to hide her own concern.
When Mom had finally finished tackling the last of many questions, Miri was quiet for a minute, and then...
"Grandma, how old is Uncle M?"
"He's 75, honey. Not really very old at all."
"Oh." Long silence. "Grandma?"
"How old was Cousin Jonathan when he died?"
The conversation that followed lasted quite a while as well, and ended with Miri saying, "I miss Cousin Jonathan."
Like I said, not so simple after all.
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!