June 25, 2012

Niece Week 2012 -- Success

She's 10, going on being a teenager.  It's scary to realize how fast she's grown up.  And yet it's easy to understand, visually, as she's grown 3 inches since her last visit and now she wears my shoe size (which she enjoyed to no end).

I'm also so proud of her and just love her so much.

The fun part is how she internalizes everything we strive to share with her.

She proudly informed me at the rocket launch at Moffett Field on Saturday that she had to be patient with some of the kids because, this was her *5th* time setting off rockets and many of the other kids had never done it before.  Ahhh.... a rocket expert, how could we not love her? 

Only a few hours before the end of her visit, she reminded me that I'd promised to pay her for watching/playing with a friend's child one of the evenings of her visit.  I explained that we'd have to negotiate her pay and it was such fun to watch her little brain grow with the idea that when someone is paying you, it is a 2-way discussion.  I made her pick hourly rates, do the multiplication, and then assess whether it was a fair price for me and for her.  She did well, and we arrived on a totally reasonable $15 for 2.5 hours. (It didn't hurt that Uncle Rocket was coaching her on the side, "She does this for a living... start high!")

But it was the subtle internalizations that were the best.  I overheard her telling my mom (who came to pick her up) "I went to Auntie's Mandarin lessons.  I learned to say, "Dui" (correct), "Xiexie" (thanks), and "haochi" (good food).

Early in her visit, I decided that while doing Mad Libs before bed (our standard pre-bedtime activity),  I would only use words I also knew in Mandarin and I'd tell them to her and let her repeat.  She was a quick study and quickly learned to differentiate the tones.

In fact, she made me bust out laughing when she said, "Level 3 sounds like you are puking... Haaaaaaooooouuuu" (complete with gestures).  

This is hilarious because: a) she thinks of the tones as levels, like on a video game; and b) she's right, 3rd tone does sort of sound like gastrointestinal distress.

There are a million other adorable things she said as well as a couple less adorable attitude pre-quels for the teenager she is likely to become.

But, overall, I'm so happy she was able to come stay with us and I'm so thankful she has parents who are willing to let her come.

Also, for the record, I got *much* less work done than normal last week (turns out, Mad-Libs, teethbrushing, boundary setting, supervising clothes-laying-out and lunch-packing, and general kid time mean I can't work even close to my normal hours).  In other words, I'm in awe of lawyers with full-time children.

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