Friday, July 3, 2009

Two little monkeys

My sister & family is moving to Fiji in August and I am missing them already. Of course I will visit. But maybe not as often as I do now when they're just a five hour hop away. So I thought I'd share a few photos and videos in some upcoming posts before my nieces and nephews change too much on me.

This is Lili last year, at four. Note the slightly anxious look on her face (what number comes next again?) and the way her sister, Olivia, six, both helps and hinders her.

video

Here's Lili a few months ago, at five. Not so anxious about her numbers anymore, but sibling rivalry is still alive and determined.

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In case you're wondering, this was a Friday night and the girls and I were playing sleepover, which meant a big bowl of popcorn, lots and lots of giggling and yet another viewing of Mamma Mia. Thank God they never asked me why didn't Donna Sheridan know who her daughter Sophie's real father was! Nor a bunch of other potentially awkward questions about the film I'd rather they posed to their mother. All they cared about was learning the songs and dance steps by heart and getting all the wedding details down so they could recreate it later. (That was very cute, by the way, wish I had pictures.)

My sister once accused me of favoring the girls over the boys. Understandable at the time (boys at nine and twelve aren't exactly sweet) but not at all true. When her first child was born I took a semester off to play nanny. And when I had to return to school the grief was like nothing I'd ever experienced before. And every time I leave I relive that grief all over again - for all of them - though, okay, maybe not of the same length and severity. But for a week at least I am a total crying wreck.

But in a way my sister is right because if I should only have one child I admit I would want a daughter. Maybe so I can give her the kind of childhood I didn't have. Or so I can give the world yet another strong woman. And sometimes when I'm with my nieces I see the things they seem to magically soak up from out of nowhere, like the need for girls to be pretty and pleasing even if it means subjugating their own needs. Which (on top of all the usual dangers one has to be aware of when one is responsible for a child) then reminds me of all the stupid things such cultural training can lead females to do to themselves. Things I have done. And I want to protect them from repeating my mistakes.

But unlike me these girls were born on rock solid ground and under a loving and watchful - but not overly protective umbrella. They are super smart, hilarious, bold, sweet, fearlessly expressive and some of the best company I know. I don't need to worry about them. Though I probably will anyway.

26 comments:

  1. It sounds like you're a wonderful Aunt. I got a lot of training with my nieces before I finally had my own.

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  2. Wow. What cute girls. You must be a very proud aunt. I had two boys, no girls. I miss not being able to buy anything "pink". Thanks for sharing these videos and thoughts with us.

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  3. I empathize with you! I have lived far from loved ones most of my life. You have given these little girls so much, I am sure they will treasure you for life and there will be phone calls and letters and little gifts sent back and forth and visits in between.

    Hugs,
    M.

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  4. Beautiful girls!
    And you are right, being beautiful and nice isn't enough.

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  5. They are adorable. I'm sure you are really going to miss them. What's taking them to Fiji? I know quite a few Fijians here in Vancouver, and they all long to move back, but enjoy their lives here too much. Fabulous, loving people -- your nieces will thrive, I'm sure. I hope you can visit often.

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  6. Hi Kim, they are great training. They've taught me a lot what I might be like as a parent. It's definitely not always fun and cuteness. but I look forward to it all the same.

    Hi Theresa, they are cute! And before Olivia was born, my sister was hoping for at least one girl so she could have a reason to buy pretty little dresses. now she has three reasons.

    And two boys sound great to me! But, ah yes, the allure of pink...

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  7. Hi Little Ms Blogger, yeah, Fiji, twenty hour plane ride. And I hate plane travel. A short one to five hour ride I don't mind. But twenty...hope they're generous with the wine on those flights.

    HI Merisi, I love how my sister and her family living in all these faraway places has given me a good excuse to travel. But living so far from them is definitely hard. I hate it. Even though there are drawbacks and benefits to all this like you said. I can't nor do I want to spend all my time playing aunt when I have a life of my own and very much want children of my own. And I do look forward to one day being able to travel with them in Europe. I will be the fuddy duddy of an aunt (Or maybe I'll be like Auntie Mame?) and they'll be these gorgeous and vibrant young women.

    Thanks for understanding. I think you are a kindred spirit!

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  8. Hi Dutch donut girl, they are beautiful. But thank goodness my sister is trying to instill in them that being pretty is not the most important thing. Not that Lili seems in any danger of becoming another female obsessed with being and staying beautiful in order to feel good about herself. She's blessed with this natural joie de vivre - I swear she's the reincarnation of some comedienne, maybe Lucille Ball. Olivia...she's so gorgeous and everyone's always telling her how gorgeous she is, it might be a bit harder for her not to get caught up in appearances at some point. But, oh well, can't protect them from everything.

    Hi Lianne, their father's job with the state dept. is taking them to Fiji. I know, sucks, huh? They'll get free housing, free schooling, and will be able to afford a nanny and house servants there. I am amazed at the lives of American government workers overseas. Almost makes me want to be another government drone.

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  9. The girls look wonderful and I sympatise with missing your nieces. I've got used living away from my family, but it's still hard. xx

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  10. Thanks Helen, I'm used to it too, though I always miss them when we're apart. And - oh! I see Part 5 in your series is up! Yay!

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  11. Oh, they're delightful. Fiji! That's far. I had a friend that lived there and she always wanted to go back. So, I'm sure the girls will enjoy their time in that island paradise.

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  12. Those are some ADORABLE little girls!!!!! I can see why you'll miss them! I'd HATE for my sister to move that far away!

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  13. your nieces are ADORABLE!! so funny that we posted similar things!

    i love being an aunt. many nieces and nephews are fun -- much easier than being a parent! :)

    hope you have a great weekend!

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  14. Cheryl ...your nieces are gorgeous and joyful and you, my lovely, are a wonderful aunt and mentor in their lives. Keep being the amazing loving woman that you already are! x

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  15. hi cheryl... always sad to be separated by so many miles from family... but pics and videos help :)

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  16. Hi Elizabeth, from what my sister tells me, life there will make me weep with envy. What a place to spend any part of one's childhood - and they will be there for three years!

    Hi Jules, it's good and bad that she's moving so far away. this'll give me a chance to explore not only Fiji, but New Zealand and Australia, hopefully. But...yes, I hate she's moving so far away.

    Hi Drollgirl, brilliant minds think alike! It is much, much easier than being a parent. But I want the hard job now. Happy weekend to you too!

    Hi Carol Anne, Thank you! lovely and amazing, lovely and amazing...I so want to burn that into my psyche...been focusing on what I want to change about myself a little too much this week. But I hope I've helped my nieces as much as they have brought joy and playfulness into my life.

    Hi laughingwolf, what a great name! Won't forget that too easily. yes...sad...trying not to do countdown to Fiji, pictures and videos help - and so do looking forward to long visits!

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  17. Beautiful family photo !! I really enjoyed this..Great..Do check my another blog also i.e.Unseen Rajasthan

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  18. Lovely "monkeys"!! Little (all) girls are adorable!

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  19. Your neices sound lovely. Although they will be leaving, I know it's nice to enjoy the time that you have left with them...

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  20. I can't imagine how you just aren't going with them! So very cute!

    And I love being an Auntie as well- so much fun and joy to be had!

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  21. Wow,they are sooo lovely and cute!!!

    Dear Cheryl,about my travel photos and your lovely comment,I would be so happy to see you here,we would have lots of fun! :)

    Have a nice week
    Parisa

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  22. what an adorable family!!!!!

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  23. I remember when my sister moved to Dublin 9 years ago. She came back however, last year.

    Lovely photos, enjoy your family moments.

    CJ xx

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  24. Hi Unseen Rajasthan, Peter, Yet, Maggie, Parisa, Awesome Sara, and Crystal Jigsaw, thank you so much for all your kind comments. And thanks for the link, Unseen Rajasthan, the more I learn about India the more I want to go. What an adventure that will be.

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  25. Cute nieces. Are you pinay? I've been to Fiji, you will love visiting them! Tell them "Boola". That's their "aloha" greeting.

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