Friday, June 25, 2010
My niece has turned 7, and as she came into being at the same time I was becoming an adult, I cannot help but measure my own life against hers. When I met Sean, she was nothing more than a protruding object of constant conversation – hidden from the world, and yet so incredibly visible to us all.
The day she was born, I was stuck downtown, working my way through the first round of auditions for a local professional dance/cheer team. In my first picture with her (taken shortly after I drove 9,000 mph to the suburbs in order to arrive before the close of hospital visiting hours), I am wearing a highly-engineered, highly visible bra on under my teeny tank and my fake eyelash/tarantula eyes are rimmed heavily in smokey lavender. It was wonderful and awkward and all omfg-i-hope-nobody-noticed-i-accidentally-got-glitter-on-the-baby.
Three months after she started walking, she turned 1. She spent a good portion of that party in the backyard, in her new Playskool swing-set, reluctant to make contact with the spiky, Kelly-green grass. I’ll never forget how stunned I was when I absentmindedly handed her to Sean for a minute while I walked away to talk to someone, and when I came back, he seemed totally at home, making her laugh and feeding her crackers. He was wearing an orange-ish plaid shirt and when I saw her tiny hands in his, I knew the birthday girl wasn’t the only one in the room that had a piece of my heart.
Fast forward several years – as life often does when we don’t pay meticulous attention to it – 2, 4 years and suddenly it’s all talk of electronic hamsters, iCarly, silly bands, and American Girls. There are brothers now. There are books, school, and opinions on clothing now (dear God, please help my sister. thank you). There are people who, in public, assume she is mine and I am secretly flattered because even though she is not mine, she is ours, and has some of the best parts of all of us.
And there is a tiny peanut lady baby curly girlie future heartbreaker who has a scream that could melt the paint off the walls, who enchants us with her bizarre, hilarious faces, and serves as the unofficial mascot of our extended family; bringing cheer and laughter to everyone she meets. Plus, she plays a mean air guitar.
Happy Birthday, Bri Bri.