It's a little late, but quite the milestone, and since I have no children except the furry kind to brag about, I have to share.
My niece, Remi turned 3 a few weeks ago and to celebrate, we shoved her into a suitcase:
Her parents are really into the whole, not having to pay for plane tickets for children under two thing, so this is the perfect solution now that she's 3. Of course, there was that whole mass chaos birthday party as well, but suitcase stuffing is far more entertaining.
Everybody thinks she's 4 because she's such a tall, beautiful child that has carried on full, intelligent conversations with adults since she was about 2. It's still so bizarre to have this tiny person scream, "AUNTIE HARN!" when I walk in the door, run up to me, drag me by the hand to show me her latest discovery, then explain to me step-by detailed step how this newfangled thing came about and how it works. On her birthday, it was the toy box my mom and dad got for her, with her name stenciled in pink lettering on it.
"See Auntie Harn, you can open it and put toys in there and you can sit on it and it HAS MY NAME ON IT!"
And, holy shit, the suitcase, also with her name on it. She could hardly contain herself and all she could muster was a full bodied scream from those giant lungs of hers. I'll never forget the first time I heard those lungs. We waited all night and just before 4 a.m. on January 18, 2007 with our heads tilted and ears poised, we heard her first cries, loud and clear through the thick doors of the maternity operating room. My mom and I faced each other wide eyed, clasped our arms together and jumped up and down and squealed in the hallway like a couple of euphoric, sleep deprived lunatics. Then, with our noses pressed against the glass, we witnessed her first temper tantrum as her dad and a nurse washed her hair — this tiny, red, squirming, open mouthed, pissed off, gorgeous creature. Teary eyed, I choked out, "She's even cute when she does the mad cry." I was a doting auntie from the start.
Of course, this doting auntie, with a mouth like a drunk sailor, gets blamed for many of the choice words Remi says from time to time. My favorite was when she was making two hangers (yes, hangers) argue. "You're a dick! No! You're a dick!" She said, acting as though the hangers were talking by shaking them.
When asked where she heard that, Remi blamed it on one of her grandmas, which, while humorous, is impossible. And, when my sister pointed the finger briefly at me I said:
"No way! I'm not that big of an a-s-s-h-o-l-e! I spell out all the bad stuff, d-a-m-m-i-t!"
Because I actually am quite cussing conscious in front of the little ones. It's amazing what she can pick up from mom and dad when they have no idea she's even listening.
Her advanced grasp of language is coupled with an advanced understanding of certain concepts you'd think a small child could never comprehend. She understood cruelty at an extremely young age. I remember saying something vaguely snippy about a family friend that was pissing me off and Remi stopped, gave me the stink eye and said in an authoritative voice, "Don't say that!" While wagging her finger at me.
Comprehension of image came a little later when we were on the playground. I told her I was too fat to go down the slide and she stared at me puzzled, looked me up and down and said, "Auntie Harn, you're not fat." So I squeezed my fat ass down the slide made for toddlers anyway. I always do.
The other day, she dropped a toy and said, "Dammit!" Her dad turned away from making dinner to scold and before he could finish she said, "I know, I won't say it at school." At that point, I'm pretty sure Scott just sat there staring at this child, slack jawed.
Yeah, that's just great.
Of course sometimes the words that come out of her mouth are purely accidental and she doesn't comprehend. Friday night we were sitting around my parents' house with my aunt and cousin from out of town and my aunt was calling Lucie, my sister's black Lab Mix, Lucie Ricardo. Remi thought that was pretty hilarious and we quizzed her on Lucie's full name. Are you ready for this one?
Lucie Liu Black Betty Alabaster ...then we added the Ricardo on the end
Remi pondered a minute then gave it her best shot, but the words got slightly twisted on the way out and sounded more like:
Black Bastard Retard
My sister literally turned a shade of purple as she scrunched down in her seat on the couch trying to hold back the laughter, but it was impossible. We busted up laughing for a good five minutes, trying to turn away from Remi so she wouldn't see. Remi hid her face in her little hands and protested, "Don't laugh!" and my sister said, "We're not laughing at you, we're laughing at Lucie because she's so silly." Yeah, the kid wouldn't buy it. She's way too smart for that.
I think my ultimate favorite is when I call her one of her many nicknames, Miss Thang all sing-songy and she answers back, "Chicken wang!"
Her laugh, her smile, her little voice, or should I say big voice — this kid astonishes me and melts my cynical, snarky heart into mush on a daily basis. I'm sure being a mother is cool, but being an aunt is pretty damn amazing too.
Happy Birthday, my little toots. I can't believe you're 3!