Monday, August 17, 2009

Return of the Niece

The four of us made a trek to the Middle of Nowhere, to a cabin with my Mom, my brother, his wife, and The Niece. The Niece is two-and-a-half now, and she and The Girl immediately bonded.

For those who haven't spent time recently in the company of preschool-aged girls, 'bonding' sounds like this:

SQUEAL hee hee hee hee SCREECH hee hee hee SCREECH hee hee hee

There's a vocal range above 'soprano' that only little girls can hit. Strikingly, they hit it without apparent effort. Over and over again. When they do an especially good one, you can actually feel a physical pain in your head, as if your cerebral cortex were being stabbed with a sharp stick.

TG and The Niece decided that hide-and-seek is best done in a team format, so they would crawl under a bedcover and loudly announce that they were hiding. One of us would make a great show of looking for them ("are they in the bathroom? Nooo..." "hee hee hee SCREECH"), eventually tossing off the cover with a flourish. They'd laugh hysterically, then hide again in the exact same place. Repetition only made it funnier, apparently.

They also made a game out of hugging Grandma; they'd charge her, grab her legs, and yell "we love you Grandma!" They seemed to compete to get to her first. Grandma didn't complain.

Poor TB was a little left out -- too old to play with the girls, but too young to hang with the adults. He's veering into tweenhood, or what we used to call the awkward ages. (I know he's a tweener because he never tires of watching "iCarly.") At home, he has friends and diversions enough, but on the road, the poor kid was at a loss when we were inside.

We tried not to stay inside too much. We had access to a pool, which proved to be great fun. (I tried to get TB to do a cannonball off the diving board, even going so far as to do one myself, but to no avail. I can see my status slipping from 'cool' to 'corny.' Such is the fate of Dads.) We went to a local petting zoo, where we even got to feed a giraffe. (If you haven't watched a giraffe's tongue do its distinctive dance, you probably should. It's mesmerizing.) We even did a boat tour of the local lake, which seemed to interest the adults far more than the kids.

But for me, the interaction between TG and The Niece was the highlight. TG is the youngest at home, and her friends are roughly her own age, so she never gets to be older than anybody. Given the chance to be the older kid, she stepped up; she was gracious, kind, and gentle with The Niece, who in turn loved her to pieces. (By contrast, The Niece had no use for me, since I fell into the "adult male who isn't Daddy" category.) To the extent that kids act out what they're taught, it made me that much prouder of TB, as TG's role model for how older kids treat younger ones. Now I have to figure out how to be a Dad to a tweener. As a parent, the rules keep changing...