There’s a little boy at Special Olympics who has a crush on my niece.
He gets all excited when he sees her. He runs around and around, then stops and pats her on the head. He runs around and around again and then stops to talk to her.
His mother told my sister that to get him to do his exercises at physiotherapy, she just mentions my niece’s name.
I love that story.
My niece is ten years old today.
It blows my mind.
If you don’t know much about my niece, you should read this to see why she’s the most awesome niece in the history of ever.
She’s even cuter and adorabler now.
I still call her every night at six. It doesn’t matter what else is going on around me. I’ll stop a conversation mid-sentence if I see it is munchkin-calling time. Literally.
She finds it funny to shake her head “no” when I call and ask if she wants to talk to me.
I fake grrrrrr and she howls with delight.
Some nights — when there is good food being served, or fun people visiting — she’ll rush me off the phone.
“You want to kick Unc off the phone now?”
“What do you have to–?”
“I. Love. You.”
“Good job, punkin! I love you too. What else do–?”
Other nights she wants to keep me on the phone for as long as humanly possible. Sometimes she gets tucked into bed while hugging the phone.
And sometimes she tries to toss “me” on the floor.
She has a devilish sense of humour.
It is awesome.
And it is almost always directed at me.
I have three of her Rachael Ray “30 Minute Meals” DVDs. She’ll watch other shows now (well, other COOKING shows) but sometimes she just needs a little Rachael.
I’ll read her the titles. She’ll shake her head “no” until I get to the right one. Then she’ll stare at me as I put it in and get it started.
As soon as the show begins, I look at her with a “Happy now?” expression.
She immediately shakes her head “no” and cracks up laughing.
She’ll do this two more times.
I’m glad I only have the 3 DVDs.
She’s raised $550 for the Relay for Life this year. Thanks in no small part to some of you lovely folks. (And there is a month before the Relay, so I may hit up more of you.) She loves being pushed around the Relay track in her chair. She enjoys the people stopping to talk to her. She likes being the star. And, really, there are few things cuter on the planet than little twerp in her over-sized Relay t-shirt.
She has her own email account and likes to send messages to people from it. I say possible sentences until I get to one she likes, then I type it. Then I put the keyboard on her lap and she does some of her own typing. (Her favourite is when she hits on a series of keystrokes that cause wackiness to appear onscreen.) She tells me when to hit send.
Recently I was gchatting with this girl while munchkin was here. I told her what I was doing.
“Hi! Hi! Hi!”
“You want me to tell her you said hi?” I asked.
I typed it.
“OK. I told her.”
“She said “hi!” back.”
“Hi! Hi! Hi!”
“Want to tell her yourself? Send her a voicenote?”
She’s now taken to skype-ing too. I think she likes it because it gets me out of the way and just lets her do her thing.
She needs surgery sometime in the nearish future. It’s a big deal. It involves her legs and hips and screws being inserted. Apparently it is very common for kids with CP. But she’s going to be unable to move for weeks after. And the thought of it stresses me out to a degree I can’t even explain. However now when she comes home from school with sore hips and a sad face, it breaks my heart in ways I can’t explain either.
On her most recent trip to visit me, she snuggled on my lap. She hasn’t done that in years. Mostly because she prefers to spend her time here making me entertain her. But this visit I got a good cuddle the day she was going back home. For over an hour! We snuggled. She looked at me. My face hurt from all the adoring smiles. I told her about how when she was little little I’d snuggle with her like that for hours and hours. I asked her if she knew how much I love her. She cutesighed and said, “Yeeeeaaah.”
I told her about about a silly cuddle game we’d play when she was a baby. I’d put my finger on her nose and say “Little nose.” Then on mine and say “Biiiiiig nose.”
“Little elbow. Biiiiiiig elbow.”
“Little hand. Biiiiiig hand.”
Then I’d point at her.
Then at myself.
That one always made her laugh.
It still does.
Even though so many things are still a struggle for her, she is the most pleasant and cheerful child ever. Unless you try to get her to do something, or go someplace, she doesn’t want to. That… does not go well.
She’s stubborn. So stubborn.
But, really, that’s probably the only reason she’s even with us today.
So sometimes when she’s screaming the roof off the house because I dare to try to get her to put jammies on, I just give her a kiss on the noggin.
And I smile the most thankful of smiles.
Happy birthday, little punkin.
You’re still my hero.
I love you.