Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My Niece's First Shopping Disaster

My oldest niece is probably the most fascinating of all my brother's kids. Do not misunderstand. I love both my nieces and my nephew and don't have a favorite. I just find this kid sometimes acts like she is me reincarnated, except I am not dead. Which is entertaining, sometimes a little freaky and always disconcerting to me. Maybe it is because she is the first so we just notice it more, but this child is a living example of nature over nurture.

Two years ago I went back to visit and my mom called her over and told her to show me how she twirled her hair. I was notorious for my hair twirling. I reconnected with a classmate on Facebook and the first thing she wrote was how she still remembers me sitting in class, reading and twirling my hair. The thing that freaked me out was not that she did twirl her hair, but that her technique was eerily the same as mine. My mom asked her why she twirled her hair and I answered, "Because it feels soft against her fingers."

That startled my niece who replied, "I especially like to do it after I use conditioner."

We stared at each other for a while and then I told her, "I like to twirl my hair too. I find it comforting." She agreed.

A few years before that I was talking to my brother about something I found exciting when he just started laughing. I asked him what was funny and he told me that I said, "I KNOW" just like my niece. I laughed and told him that I had been saying it long before she had. The weird thing about all of this is that I don't have any regular contact with them living so far away, so it is extremely unlikely that she is picking up these habits from me. This is evidenced by our mutual love of fashion, even if we don't have the same tastes.

I was once getting ready for a date and had no one to talk to for advice. I called my niece who was probably in kindergarten. I thought it would be fun and settle my nerves. Plus, she was waaaay into teenagers and the prom so she was a little obsessed with the idea of dating and fascinated with her unmarried aunt who still did such things. My mom told me that one time she was talking about dating and said I would know. Leaning in with her hand up to her mouth she whispered loudly, "She dates." Then she pulled back and blushed at the idea.

When I called her and explained the situation, she got very excited and exclaimed, "I have a passion for fashion!" I don't remember the date or even who I was going out with, but I do remember that I was told to wear teal. She was "very into teal" at that time. I also remember that it took much convincing on my part to get her to accept the idea of a skirt over a dress because "you should always wear a dress on a date."

She also used to live in her mind. I don't really know how else to explain it which is why it was so odd for me to recognize it in her. Her brain processes information quickly and follows thoughts to their logical end. Which means she has an answer for everything, not because she is guessing but because she had already thought of an answer ten minutes ago when the concept first presented itself.

Both my nieces between the ages of two or three thought I lived at the airport. Which was heartbreaking because they thought I lived an hour away, but only visited them a couple times a year. When the oldest finally understood the concept of an airport, she came running in to my mom. I was supposed to arrive that day and she wanted confirmation that it was my plane she had just seen overhead. She asked my mom what my plane number was because she thought she saw it but couldn't quite read the number on the plane. After she received a made-up answer, she said, "I knew it!" My mom asked her if she had waved at me and she said no. When asked why not, she replied like my mom was ignorant, "Because she was sitting on the other side of the plane and wouldn't be able to see me."

She has this whole inner storyline that no one else can see. I have the same thing. It is why I sometimes say things completely out of context but expect people to know what I am talking about. I forget they can't see the really random connections that my head makes. When my niece was much younger, you could watch it in her play. She wouldn't play out a storyline that already existed in her mind, she would play through the story as it occurred to her.

I was at my mom's house on vacation a few years back sitting in the living room playing my Gameboy. My four-year-old niece wandered in the room and said, "Is this yours?" I looked up and nodded when I saw her holding a box that was the packaging for something I had gotten in the mail. It was medium sized about 12x10x7. "Can I have it?" She asked, looking genuinely concerned that I would say no. I told her to go ahead and went back to my game.

A couple of minutes later I heard her say, "Oh no! Doggin'!" I looked up to see her scrutinizing the inside of the box and asked what was wrong. "I ordered a bicycle helmet so I could get to work on time, but they sent me a space helmet instead." She paused, continuing to look the box over before she said, "I must have said space helmet by mistake." She put it on her head, looking around with it covering her face and said dejectedly, "Nope, this isn't going to work at all."

When I realized that she was trying out the box to see if it would still work, I lost it. I still laugh whenever I think of her looking around blindly, trying to see if she could make her mishandled order work anyway. She jumped five feet when I guffawed; whipped the box off her head; and looked at me sheepishly as if she had forgotten I was sitting right there. Looking indignant she said, "It's not my fault, it just isn't going to work."

Which sobered me up and made me reply, "Well, you can't be late for work. You'll have to send it back for an exchange. But make sure you have them send it express mail to so you get it sooner."

She nodded her head sagely at this advice but then said, "Or I could keep the space helmet, you never know if I might need it." Then she left the room, leaving me to dissolve into laughter again.

I hope she becomes a writer some day. I can't wait to hear her stories.


  1. Wow...I LITERALLY laughed out loud.

  2. Hilarious! I just love reading your stories! That is pretty cool about your niece, cool and strange all at the same time.