« Home | Round Brushing Fun For Everyone » | Recipe » | About Jack and Jill » | JUNE 29, 2006 » | Let Me Essplain.... »

Lovely Golden-haired Girl

Time marches on and sooner or later you realize it is marchin' across your face.
-Truvy Jones

So, I wrote a post several weeks ago about my 13-year-old niece, Erica. I was really looking forward to her visit from England and my little Avee had just done something that reminded me of her. I didn’t post it because I just wasn’t secure in it being interesting enough to anyone but me. But I’ve spent the last couple of weeks with this girl and I just gotta say some things about her. First of all, I am just as in love, if not more, with this girl, as I was 12 years ago when she stole my heart. She was this adorable little chubby-cheeked, redhaired 1 year old with an infectious smile and squeaky little voice. That chubby cheeked, red haired, grinning little imp has been replaced by this gorgeous, golden-haired, lovely, bright, witty, and thoroughly competent teenager.

When I hear her laugh at the same things I laugh at, I always do a double take and I have to blink hard because I still see the little girl who giggled uncontrollably every time she told her riddle, “2 girls are walking under an umbrella with a hole in it, which one of them gets wet, the one on the left or the right? Neither it’s not raining!!!”

When I hear her perfectly imitate my children’s baby accents in her own dialogue, my heart breaks a little, when only yesterday I was the young girl imitating her little baby accent.

It was 12 years ago that I was an 18-year-old free-spirit of a girl holding little 16 month old “Abica”. One night we were walking back to our car from the annual Labor Day fair and I was holding Erica. I sang to her, "I love you, you love me, we're a happy family...." Back then, that was just a sweet song about love, not a mind-numbing chant that would later invade my home and rob me of my sanity every day at 10:49 AM. Erica looked up at me, listening intently and then joined in with, "Hap' bir-day, hap' bir-day..." I burst out laughing and quickly caught up with my sister to tell her what she had just said. My sister said, "Oh yeah, that's the only English song her Egyptian nanny knows and she sings it to her all the time. Erica was born in Egypt and lived there until she was about 18 months old.

We made a connection that night.

I still remember vividly, during that same visit, Erica sat on my mom’s bed and pilfered through her purse. With each item she pulled out, she delightedly labeled it “Shoes!”

Fast forward about 10 years and Benja’s first word was shoes. He said it the exact same way as Erica. The very first time he said shoes my heart just melted. He only said shoes that way about 6 times and by that evening, it had somehow evolved into a swear word. For 6 short hours, genetics prevailed in how he said shoes. Afterwards, environment overcame and the boy swore every time he tried to say “shoes”.

What initially inspired the original Erica post was my own little 15 month old redhead. One morning, after Benja’s birthday he and I were puttering around the house singing the Happy Birthday song. Who knows how many times she did it before we actually realized it but when we didn’t finish the song, Avee did. Both Benja and I have the same singing style, we take "creative" liberties with words, and often have attention deficit in finishing songs. So one or both of us would say, “Happy Birthday to you…..” and trail off to eat cheerios off the floor. Then we heard little Avee from her high chair, "hap buh-buh doe erc-ca-ca". It was just coincidence that the "name" she said sounds like Erica. She was just making her Avee sounds there. It was so clearly Happy Birthday that even Benja stopped what he was doing and exclaimed, "She singed Happy Birthday!"

So tonight I took the kids to McDonalds. I’m babysitting another child, Jay’s gone and this is how I live my life when no one is looking. The kids had an absolute blast, and after a while, Erica got caught up in trailing Avery through the tunnels and slides and just started climbing around the play structure on her own. It was 8:30 at night. Everyone else with any sense of decency and good parenting skills went home an hour before and we had the place to ourselves. The child I’m babysitting kept trying to tempt me onto the play structure to play with him. He’d say things like, “You can’t climb as high as me, so you can’t see a cool thing up there!” and “I’m not going to talk to you if you don’t come play in the slide with me.” Obviously the boy isn’t clear on babysitter’s size to slide width ratios. Erica heard him trying to get me to come play inside and said, “Come on Angela, get in touch with your inner-child and come tromp around with us.” When did my baby Erica learn to use phrases like “inner-child” and about “getting in touch” with them? Meanwhile, Avee stood nearby, completely in touch with her inner child, screeching her demands for Erica to climb back down from her tower and retrieve her.

Time does march on. For me right now, it shows up in babies suddenly being teenagers, more than anything else. I went to college 90 miles from where my sister and husband lived, so I got to spend a lot of time with my nieces. I graduated and moved to Missouri a week before they moved to England. When I hugged those girls goodbye, I knew only my 10 year old niece understood the sadness of this goodbye. It broke my heart.

A year later when the girls came to the states (I only lasted about 8 months and had flown to see them in England a few months before) for their annual trip, I was dating J. Erica had a baptism that summer and for it I gave her a journal. On the plane trip home, J sat next to me, and the girls took turns sitting in the seat on the other side of me. During her time away from me, I found Erica writing in her journal. When I asked her what she was writing about, she willingly showed me her deepest 8 year old thoughts. "It's not fair that J gets to sit next to Angela the whole plane trip and doesn't have to switch out, and we have to take turns and only get 30 minutes at a time."

Erica's sort of outgrown that insatiable desire to be near me. Sometimes when I ask her questions about boys she says, "Do I have to answer that question?" and I'm certain the contents of her journal now are off limits to me. I'm a grown-up, she's a teenager. She's my girl though, and we're still connected. There are some things even time can't change.

*Blah-grrrrr is being stoopit and won't let me post pictures, but I will be back!

That is an awesome post... it reminds me of the bonding times I've had with my little cousins, who are now growing up and getting married. Some of them, I diapered, so it's particularly weird to see them diapering their own children now.

I watched "Steel Magnolias" no less than two days ago. How freaky to see that quote on your blog. :)

That's was so sweet!
You are so blessed to have such a relationship with ypur niece. Oh, and the way your own kids remind you of her, wow!, how awesome is that?
I wish I had had an aunt like you :)

PS:I agree is was not fair that J gets to sit with Angela, while everyone else had to take turns ;-)
ha ha, kids!

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Post a Comment