February 28, 2006

When she gets a boyfriend

Last night, after a visit to my father in the hospital and a long discussion with my siblings about the things family must discuss when a family member is gravely ill, I decided to forgo the drive back to the bay area in the rain and wait 'til this morning to drive straight to school.

My brother invited me to stay the night at his house. I happily agreed. When I arrived, my niece yelled from her room -- she didn't know I was coming over, but now that I was there, she wanted a story. I was more than happy to provide her with one. Then, I got to be the excuse for her to get out of bed and hang out with the adults for an extra half an hour. She loves it when I visit.

I've got a strong maternal response to my niece. When she has nightmares and I stay the night, I find myself in her room before I'm completely awake. When she makes noise in the night, I wake to realize that I've already evaluated the safety of what she is doing. This morning, she woke me at 7:30 with a tearful cry of "mama." I was out of bed and halfway to her room when she let out a second tearful cry of "[insert childish pronunciation of BT's name]."

Groggy, I walked into her room to find my brother telling me that I didn't need to get up, because he was ready to help her. But, she'd just said my name. Blindly (for I truly am blind without my glasses or contacts) I reached out for her and picked her up to confort her between her sobs. I didn't know what was wrong, but I knew I wanted to help. She wrapped her legs around my waist and hugged me tight before she said,

I peed the bed.

Yeah. Thanks kid.

Turns out, I figured it out from the warm wetness on my shirt. My brother was in the middle of trying to explain it to me as I picked her up, so after she told me what had happened, he tried valiantly not to laugh at me. He succeeded temporarily, but I laughed all day, and this evening's phone conversation assured me that he found the combination of my maternal instinct and blindness to be too funny for words.

Needless to say, I didn't just tuck her back in and go back to sleep 'til my alarm rang (the original plan). Instead, I headed for the shower and took my niece with me for good measure. Clearly, we both needed to be cleaned up. There was no need to make her parents get up just yet.

After the shower, we watched some "little mermaid" and my neice dressed herself in the most eclectic outfit I've seen in a while: pink beanie, red and black plaid skirt, red-white-and-blue sweater, green capris, and black ankle boots.

Like I said, she loves it when I come over. Stay up late. Dress yourself. How fun? And when she's older and dating, she's really going to love it more when I show up to tell this story to the lucky new boyfriend. I can't wait.

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