I’m still trying to figure out how I ended up babysitting last night. Not that my niece is a baby. At four, she’s sometimes more of an adult than I am. And she can take care of herself, or at least help me take care of her.
“Tía, you have to clean your room,” she told me after seeing the piles of clothes scattered on the floor. “Your floor is dirty,” she repeated, rolling her eyes with her hands on her hips. I wonder if she got that from my mother or hers. Or maybe even his.
These days she so reminds me of her mother. Not in looks; she has her father’s darker coloring instead of my sister’s burn-in-the-shade complexion. But she has those serious eyes, the ones that look at you as if she can see right through you. And she has that graceful nature. She can be so still, so quiet, for so long that I often wonder what’s going on in her head. And she’s such a girl, addicted already to buying shoes and having pretty things in her hair. And so incredibly smart, though she only holds conversations when she feels like it. She is such a wonder that I sometimes doubt my long-standing theory that if I don’t have children ever it won’t be the worst thing in the world.
For some strange reason she reminds me of a cat. Self-contained, independent. Even as a baby she would only let you hold her for so long before she started to squirm and demand to be put down. Today she will tell you what she wants to wear, where to stop the television when you’re clicking away and when she’s hungry and sleepy.
Earlier in the day, early evening that is, there was a knock at the door. Expecting my sister and the kids, I didn’t think anything of it. Instead there was a little boy or may 3 or 4 years of age. Behind him I could see one of those motorized mini-cars that are sold for kids, and I knew immediately who he was, though I had never seen him before.
FLASHBACK TO CONVERSATION WITH ARIANNA: “So it’s Saturday morning, early, and you’d already gone to work and Mom was still asleep. Somebody knocks and I look outside to see this _boy_ out there. He drove over in his little car from a few houses down. And I open the door and he asks if Alicia can come out and play. And I’m thinking, whoa! A guy just drove up to our house to pick up Alicia, didn’t think that would be happening for another ten years. So I told him that Alicia was at her real house,” Arianna told me, amused smile decorating her face.
So, having been instructed by Arianna about Adrian’s habit of “driving” over to play with Alicia, I knew who he was. And I had to tell him the same thing, that she was at her real house. And my mind kept fast-forwarding to ten years or so from now when guys really will be coming by to pick her up. It’s an amazing thought.
And as I watched her sleep I remembered staying up all night at the hospital waiting room, waiting for my sister to have her. And now she’s telling me to clean my room and to put on the Carlos Santana CD when she’s in my car and having the neighbor kids come by to play. Time flies….