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116 of 118; here’s to you amelia jean

May 11, 2011

I have a tiny niece named Amelia; she’s my sister’s little girl. You can read more about her here.

Amelia came to stay in Brooklyn with us a few weeks ago, during her school vacation. She’s five. It was her first “big girl trip.”

I’d considered whether it would be better to have my niece or my nephew come during their spring break. Nephew is ten and in a way, more independent, but he is less excited about Henry and his two year old agenda, and most of the trip would happen when my husband was at work. To be clear, Nephew is more loving and sweet to his two year old cousin than I would expect a nearly eleven year old boy to be, but he is also very excited about his own agenda, which is ninja- and alien- and Wii-oriented.

Whereas Niece wants to put her own personal agenda—which is be sure that someone gets her a Spiderman pinata for her sixth birthday—on the back burner in order to hang out with Henry. She is also less likely to make a series of phone calls to my best friend’s sister in law at 4:15am, which her brother did when he came to stay when he was six. Niece was the clear choice for this particular trip, though I look forward to having Nephew asap.

I see her a lot: we are great pals. However, she’d only been to my house once, with her parents and brother, when she was 16 months old. She didn’t even remember meeting my cat, plus we’d moved since then: it was time for her to come again.

I have a great desire to be the sort of casual, happy, competent parent / aunt who has another kid come to stay and it’s totally no big deal. Remember those sorts of parents from when you were little? Ah, we’ll just pull up another chair and distribute a little more GORP. We had neighbors like that, and I had an aunt like that. But they must have been faking it, right? They acted like it was so easy to have me around. But while there is an obvious delta between the sort of aunt I would like to be and the sort of aunt it’s most convenient to be, I decided that, just like with thank you notes or the high dive, this act is not to be overanalyzed: ideally, it just needs to be done. The only preparation we made for Amelia to come was buying a container of strawberries.

When I was 5 or more or less, who knows, I was always trying to sleep over people’s houses. It seemed like a great idea in the light of day, and the friend or cousin and I would finagle for hours trying to get our parents to agree to our plan. But in the middle of the night—or perhaps it was more like 10pm — I could see that what I wanted more than anything else in the world was to be home, rather than wherever I was. I made my parents come and get me more than once. Once, I made them come and get me from a place that was 40 miles away.

Still, I’d describe my young self as a more independent sleeper than my niece, who likes to track her father down in the middle of the night and snuggle up. They call this “coochy”ing, because they are German, though that does not sound German.

Her dad packed her a pink suitcase that said “Going to Grandma’s” on it, and we got into the car for our drive. She knew that my house was far, but she seemed to be pretty vague on the whole concept of just how far. Henry was blindly excited to have his cousin coming with us.

He got upset when we were driving, though, because first she wasn’t feeling so hot, and then she dozed off. Henry hates it when other people sleep.

“NO!” is something that he yells when you are tired. “NO UPF!” when he wants you to get up.

When Amelia fell asleep, he folded his bottom lip over and it began to quiver He finally had her in the car with him, and she was daring to sleep! It’s a good thing he was strapped in, because he was trying to poke her to wake her up when she wasn’t feeling great, and I am acquainted with how being on the receiving end of that feels, and it is not good.

Amelia woke up just at about the time that the skyline was getting interesting in the skyscraper way.  She’d become cheerful again, and I really thought we were out of the woods. We drove along the BQE and I pointed out the part of the city where Uncle Matthew works.

We were at mile 116 of our 118 mile trip when she threw up three times in quick succession. I was on the Prospect Expressway, which is a tiny little highway compared with some of our other local highways, but it is nevertheless a highway.

My inclination was to get the rest of the way home—we were so close—but she needed me to pull over. Throwing up is unpleasant and scary and dirty. Of course I needed to pull over.

When I finally was able to pull off of the highway, and find a spot where I could stop the car and get out, I went to see her in the back, and I understood why she needed me to stop: she was double fisting her own throw up. It was cupped in her hands, which she was holding together. I grabbed a plastic bag from the front and she sloshed it in.

“I didn’t want to get it on your car,” she sputtered, my little angel. And she didn’t.

It was all over her carseat and clothes, but by using 3ooo diaper wipes, a number less than which I will never take a trip with again, I spot cleaned her enough that we could get the rest of the way home.

Two miles later, she jumped into the bath and then an iCarly nighty and then called her dad, and we ordered Chinese food. She had a great appetite, and we read some books, and then they went to bed. We’d pulled a mattress into Henry’s room. I’d tried to explain the monitor to Amelia, and how I’d be able to hear her and come in if she said something to me during the night, and then I turned on the stars nightlight and the noise machine and left the kids in there to sleep.

In the morning, we learned that she hadn’t slept well: the noise machine drove her crazy, but she didn’t know that we could have turned it off or fixed it for her, and she’d forgotten that she could contact us just by saying our names. Between throwing up and not sleeping and being so far from home, it seemed like she could potentially be pretty miserable. I mean, I would have crumbled long before that point.

So her Uncle Matthew casually asked if she wanted to spend another day and night with us. She was absolutely clear on wanting to stay. So we saw some walruses at the aquarium, and ate some pizza that she deemed too spicy but then she pulled the cheese off and she managed, and we rode the subway around, and it was great. She ate lots of strawberries enthusiastically, as planned.

And she kept starting sentences with “The next time I come to your house . . . ” or “The next time I ride the subway.” I can’t wait until she comes again. Maybe she can help turn me into that kind of parent / aunt I want to be.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Karen permalink
    May 11, 2011 9:59 am

    Poor little thing. What a very brave little girl. Meredith, I am sure that the two of you will have a lot of fun while becoming the aunt you want to be. I want to be that kind of aunt too! Unfortunately, my niece and nephew live in NOLA.

    As we say in Japan: gambatte. And happy to play-date the next time Amelia Jean is here- Mia would LOVE to have a big girl pay even the tiniest bit of attention to her.

  2. Grandpa Bob permalink
    May 11, 2011 11:37 am

    Dear sweet little Amelia is so fortunate to have you as a loving aunt.

  3. Trisha Margeson permalink
    May 11, 2011 7:41 pm

    So true, Grandpa Bob.

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