The little things…

It always amazes me how a couple of chords from a song can transport you back to a very specific time and place. And how the faintest sniff of a delicious and familiar aroma wafting through the air can cause your mouth to water and your stomach to growl.

But, not all sensory memories are pleasant.

Years ago I watched a woman I knew — though not well — being pushed in a wheelchair. I won’t go into what put her in the chair, other than to say that it greatly impacted her both physically and mentally.

And then I saw the hat she was wearing.

And for reasons that were completely unclear to me at the time, it broke my heart.

It was a mesh-backed trucker hat. (And this was long before Ashton Kutcher made them “hip” and then completely objectionable again.)

I was absolutely fixated on the hat.

It wasn’t that this formally vibrant woman was now unable to care for herself. It wasn’t that this young woman had her life changed in such a huge way.

Though I recognized how deeply tragic these things were.

Later, it hit me…

It was the lack of control she now had.

I fully realize that her caregivers were trying to keep the sun off her face and out of her eyes. I do.

I just didn’t feel that she would have worn that hat normally.

And that bothered me.

A lot.

It comes back to me when someone places a hat on the ACN (Adorably Cute Niece) that I don’t think the world’s cutest 6 year old should be wearing.

It bothers me.

Early on, the ACN’s mommy told us that it was good to give the ACN options. I REALLY ran with that. So much so that the mommy now tells me that I give too many options.

Pfffffft to that.

If the ACN tells me that she wants to go to the bathroom every five minutes for an hour… Well, then we go to the bathroom every five minutes for an hour.

If the ACN wants to spend 90 minutes deciding which pair of jammies she wants to wear, then we spend 90 minutes picking jammies.

And I am completely aware that she is only doing it because she loves my fake grrrrrrrrs when she changes her mind.

But, if the ACN wants something and I am able to do it, then she gets it. It’s really that simple to me.

I adore the little squirt. And she is still the toughest little chick that I know.

And there are, and will continue to be, things in her life that she won’t be able to control.

But, I’ll be fucked if a choice of hats is one of them.

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  1. dirty says:

    Kids need choices. I try to give my kids choices but my choices are always better. They are 3, 5, and 6…what do they know about life?

    I was a popular cheerleader with great hair…how dare them try to tell me what’s cool.

    Don’t let cuteness win you over…she will eat you alive.

  2. Jurgen Nation says:

    Your posts about your niece make me fall in love with you a little bit. In a non-creepy and platonic way, of course, but reading posts about your niece suggests a completely different facet to your personality that I don’t read in you otherwise. I hate the reality, but seriously? She could not have a better uncle (and mom, from what I read).

  3. Peter says:

    dirty: I am powerless against the cuteness. And she knows it.

    stacy: The serious side of my personality isn’t really into blogging. He likes to watch documentaries. But, his smittenness with the munchkin makes him drop in here from time to time. And thanks!!

  4. kelsi says:

    this sounds a lot like the way i feel about my nieces and nephews. i take care of one niece, in particular, several days a week, and there is no way i could love that kid any more than i do. and her adorability (not a word, i know)slays me to the point where yes, we can go get chicken strips for her at denny’s at 11 at night. it’s cool.
    but yes – the opportunity to have both choices and boundaries is the most important part of a child’s development, and i’m glad for you and for your niece that you’re there to offer the choices and freedoms someone that age so deeply needs.
    obviously, if that’s the relationship you’re building with your niece, you must rock. hardcore.

  5. 123Valerie says:

    Aw, PD. This spoke to me. Your sentiment is beautiful.

    For the first time in my life, I’m considering having children–at some point, not tomorrow.

    We spent all day at the pool yesterday because we were deliriously entertained by the antics of some 5-year-old kid we didn’t even know.

    It’s so nice to see a kid’s personality emerge. I give a hearty, “You go, girl” to your niece. And to you, too, Peter.

  6. A Lover and a Fighter says:

    i couldn’t agree more, but you know that. We all deserve to have as much control as possible over our situations. And the more choices you give your niece, the more empowered she will become. We all need to learn that we are not powerless. You’re so good to engender that in ACN from the get-go. Plus now, if anyone in the future dares to tell her she can’t make a decision on her own, she’ll be able to laugh because she simply knows better.

  7. Eve says:

    That was really sweet, bittersweet really.

  8. Amber says:

    I think it’s wonderful that you have a sensitive side, too, Peter.

    Not a lot of people would recognize what you seen – cutting away everything to reveal the heart of the matter.

    What you just described is exactly why I’m in the medical field and why it always has been, and always will be, my heart’s desire.

    Thank you for acknowledging another’s pain and the losses that they endure. You don’t have a callous disregard for them like so many others do.

    It’s things like this that restore my faith in the good of humanity as a whole.

    You are also the World’s Most Amazing Uncle, EVER! Simply because of how much you love.

    Thank you for sharing this, it really touched my heart.

  9. Airam says:

    What a great post. And it really shows the kind of person that you are.

    :)

  10. ADW says:

    You aren’t doing anything wrong. I went back and read your post about how your niece came into this world and I don’t think that there is a single thing wrong with giving her choices. And she is sooooo lucky to have you in her life. I have a hunch that the way you feel about her is mutual and you are probably one of her favorite people.

  11. Girl in a Guy's World says:

    This is the wonderful part about being an aunt or an uncle — you can take these kids, spoil them rotten, fill them with sugar and send them home with loud toys and there’s not a damn thing their parents can do about it. And, you have the opportunity to love them fiercely without reason or reprimand. It’s a wonderful thing, being an aunt or an uncle.

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