I’m going home yet again. I know, I know. I was just there. In my 5 years of living in the DC area, two weeks is the shortest time period between visits to California EVER. And although I’m sure you think it’s odd that I’m going back so soon, I wish I could always go home every two weeks. I've already started to miss my niece, Serena.
Now that my niece is approaching three years of age, I adore her so much more. Her personality is incredibly evident, although she currently displays the typical childlike qualities of curiosity, troublemaking, and occasionally shyness with some vanity mixed in.
Serena says the cutest and funniest things…that is, when I understand her. Occasionally, her words come out oneafteranother so I get confused. I ask her to repeat herself and she says it the same way, not slowly. And when I ask her to repeat herself a third time, she gets frustrated with me, like it’s MY problem that I can’t get her. I suppose she’s right. It certainly isn’t the little angel’s fault.
And the girl loves herself some recognition. For example, while at the grocery store getting some last minute stuff for my birthday party during my last visit home, I was busy deciding what kind of wine to purchase (sure, I enjoy the white, but what if some people are in the mood for red…yet, we’re having chicken tacos and chicken goes better with white…but what if people prefer red…and if so, what kind of red…it sucks being a Libra). Since I was busy, I wasn’t paying too much attention to Serena, which she didn’t appreciate. She started to sing her ABCs…LOUDLY. This still didn’t break my concentration. When she was done, she turned around to face me and said indignantly, “Nina, I just did my ABCs!” In my head, I thought, that’s great, kid. But what I said was, “Oh my gosh, Serena, that’s awesome! Good job! You are so smart.” This praise brought a smile to her face.
Taking care of the little angel also taught me something. Kids can be way smarter than adults. Or sneakier, at least. I learned this when my mom asked me to help Serena wash her hands before snack time. I took her to the sink and she climbed up her little step stool to reach the faucet. She turned the water on and dumped two pumps of soap into her palm. She put her hands under the running water and got her hands nice and soapy. And then she proceeded to get her arms nice and soapy. Awww, I thought, she’s trying to be extra clean. Then she proceeded to scrub her elbows. Hmmm, I thought, this kid likes to be thorough. Then she decided to grab her baby toothbrush and brush her teeth. Apparently, she really wants to be extra clean before snack time.
When Serena finally finished giving herself a mini-bath, she pulled away from the sink and headed over to the towel. It was then that I noticed that Serena was SOAKED. Her little tank top was dripping wet. I ran over to the kitchen to where my mom was cooking for the party. “Mom,” I asked, “Do you have an extra t-shirt for Serena? She got her tank top all wet when she washed her hands.” My sister, also in the kitchen, said, “Oh no! Did you let her wash her elbows and brush her teeth too?” Clueless, I said, “Um, yeah. I thought she was being extra clean.” My mom laughed as my sister said, “No, she just likes to get all wet.”
My mom grabbed an extra tee and we went searching for Serena. She was hiding in my room, lying on my bed. When we walked in, Serena turned away from us bashfully. She knew she had been bad. But she looked so cute and shy that I couldn’t get mad at her. Neither could my mom.
Sure, it’s been two weeks between my visits home, but I really can’t wait to see Serena again.
And this time, I’ll make sure she washes her hands and nothing but her hands before snack time.