Tuesday, February 21, 2006

My niece Emma

I KNOW as an aunt that I'm not supposed to play favorites, but it is impossible not to at times. I do love all of my nieces and nephews (as has been well documented in a half-dozen adoring Christmas letters) but ever since Emma Jane, the youngest was born almost 3 years ago, she has fascinated me. She looks amazingly like her mother as a little girl, and has the same fearlessness and stubbornness. Granted, she hasn't managed to pull a chest of drawers on top of herself & break her collarbone yet as did Mommy, but she's fallen off of a variety of furniture and I am sure will manage to break something in the next year or so.

She reminds me of Sally Brown, Charlie Brown's little sister. Same big round head (a family trait), and blond hair that is swirly in the front and swoops up on the sides. Uncanny.

She is simultaneously the girliest girl I've ever seen, and the most rambunctous tomboy. I bought her a little plastic tiara as a consolation gift when taking her and Henry to buy his birthday present, and she could. not. get. over. it. Just loved it. She has a variety of princess dresses for playing dress-up, a couple of pairs of net wings, and has recently discovered the Disney canon of princess movies; Cinderella is her obsession. Plus her Disney princesses nightgown.

She is NEVER indifferent. She is so completely committed to the task at hand, that if my mom or I come in and she's occupied, we get no more than a blank glance. On the other hand, if she is at leisure, she will fling herself at you for hugs, and then show you every single one of her pastel stuffed animals, purses, or movies.

We went sledding on Saturday with the 2-inch snow we were begrudgingly granted, and I was amazed at how she would so willingly be placed in a saucer and shoved down a hill, usually backwards. If she spilled, she could have cared less, and often hopped up with a "yahoo!" which she learned from her brothers. Then she would haul her tiny self back up the hill to go down again, over and over. I really could see her as a snowboarder or an X-Games enthusiast 15 years down the road...
I find her so simultaneously cuddly and fierce.

The other night I was babysitting for her, and after what was a perfectly peaceful evening, she was infuriated to find that she would have to go to bed (unusual for her, as she has always been the easiest to put to bed). I picked her up, kicking and screaming and carried her forcibly upstairs, where she proceeded to carry out a 15+ minute temper tantrum. When offered pacifying objects, she would shriek with fury and throw them from her. I sat in the rocker and played a little computerized Yahtzee game until she subsided enough to be offered a "way out" of her tantrum without wounding her pride. But there was no way I was going to give in to such behavior - as I have often said, I will NOT have my babies turn into brats.

Sure, temper tantrums are common enough in children, but what amazed me was the sheer longevity of it. Her will to perservere is phenomenal in one so small; and if denied something, she will not easily be distracted from her purpose, if at all. She's quite prepared to scream as long as it takes, and the fact that tantrums have not ever actually worked hasn't sunk in yet, so we just sit back and marvel at her strength.

I invented a song for her a few years back to a melody that I can't place; I think it's a little Mozart snippet. She really loves it, and so I have started making up lyrics to any bedtime instrumental music on the CD player in her room; usually with recurring themes of Emma Jane/time to sleep/mommy and daddy/close your eyes.

I am a baby princess
Adored by my family
I am a baby princess
As pretty of a princess as you'll see.

I have a mom and daddy
Of big brothers I have three
I am the baby princess
When I grow up I'm going to be the queen.

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