Two weeks ago, my adorable seven-year-old niece moved in with me temporarily. Her parents had the fabulous opportunity to go to China and asked me to look after my niece while they were gone. Of course, I said yes.
My brother, SIL and niece arrived with two suitcases – one for clothes and one for toys, three backpacks for various items, at least three bags of other stuff, including one full of snacks for school and daycare. There was also the requisite snuggle blankie and stuffies; comforts of home. This was Monday evening and without any fuss the cases and backpacks and bags were distributed, pjs were donned, teeth were brushed and my niece settled into bed. Day one was short and easy!
So were days two through thirteen. As house guests go, my niece was a charming, polite and wonderful companion. She never once complained. She didn’t care for my rice, preferring “normal” rice to the basmati that I served. Otherwise she ate what was provided without fuss. She entertained herself when I was busy. She got herself up and dressed and ready for school and daycare without an problems. And she enjoyed some special outings with her brother (swimming), her Grandma (for a visit and a walk) and her cousin (for a movie at the new theatre in town).
The only time she disapproved of anything was the second to last night she spent with me. We threw a bit of a surprise early birthday party of sorts for a friend on our weekly D&D night. Though the celebrators were small in number, we made for a bit of noisy group. A little after nine o’clock my niece entered the kitchen and scolded us thusly:
“Can you please crank it down!? I had my head buried under the pillow and my door shut permanently and I could still hear you.”
Duly admonished, we did our best to crank it down and let her get to sleep.
Last Saturday, my niece’s parents returned from their amazing trip to China and my niece returned to her own home. It was so quiet in the house. Gone were the repeating sounds of the My Little Pony theme song on Netflix, game noises from her iPod, her delightful giggles and her charming chatter. Gone was my niece.
And in her place a little bit of sadness settled in.
I have come to value my independence over the past two years. Having my niece in the house with me, though, has made me somewhat nostalgic for the days when children were the center of my life. So now I’m looking forward to having my grandchildren come for a visit in a few weeks. The No-Jo (as they are collectively and affectionately referred to) will liven things up again.