Little Girls, Little Girls

I have to scurry around the house today because Little Girls are coming.

As I come from a large family, I have been overjoyed with nieces and nephews through the years: a round dozen on my side of the family alone. They range in age from Middle School through Out in the Cold, Cruel World.

On the other hand, my husband comes from a smaller, less fecund group: there are only two nieces on his side, and they’re young yet – coming on for five and three. It’s these two nieces and their mommy (our sister-in-law Sharon) who are on their way here today.

Jillian is the older of the two; she’s a frighteningly smart little girl who already has a certain sense of the sardonic. Pretty, too, with a little cat-shaped face and big eyes. She has a strong resemblance to Sharon, but she’s old enough now where, when certain expressions run across her face, it’s almost like her father James is looking back at you:

Quinn, on the other hand, is still enough of a baby that her personality is not quite as strongly defined. She’s a cheerful child, with a streak of puckish humor. She reminds me in many ways of my mother-in-law; probably something about the shape of her face. John says that the last time he saw her she was going through a shy stage; it’s hard to imagine judging by this photo:

Our house makes a convenient stopping place between their home further south and the family up north. Sharon anticipates they’ll get here sometime in the early evening; chances are they’ll be later since she never knows how long it will take to get going, nor how often she’ll have to stop. James has to work, so he’ll be flying north to meet up with them in a few days, and then they’ll all drive back together so we’ll get to see them again in a week or so.

Anyway, since John and I rarely have small people around the house, there’s a certain amount of preparation that must be made, starting with the groceries. I need to stock in some chicken nuggets, juice boxes, cookies and the myriad of of other things one needs to tempt small palates. I have no idea what the girls’ current eating habits are like; I’m just guessing. I do like shopping for kid-food because the packaging is so entertaining – packaged foods have names like Blast! and Wow! and Zap! and are replete with bright colors and cartoon characters.

Then I need to get the downstairs ready. We have a guest room, but it’s too small for both children and their mother to sleep in; the downstairs den, on the other hand, has both an inflatable bed and a fold-out sofa, in addition to two shelves full of stuffed toys just dying to be played with. There’s also a VCR and a huge library of tapes, plus all the books you’d ever want. I need to give the place a good vacuuming and dusting, make the beds and clean the downstairs bathroom. That can be done this afternoon after the groceries are bought.

I don’t get to see my nieces and nephews nearly often enough. A large part of that is sheer geographical distance, an even larger part is scheduling. Mine is erratic depending on whether I’m doing a show and where I happen to be in that show’s progress. I feel it safe to say that all the kids’ schedules are equally full, with school and clubs and sports and other extra-curricular activities. It’s nice when the schedules mesh.

We had a call from one of our older nephews last night – Jim, my younger brother’s oldest boy. He’s a working man but still living at home (not far from us), and at present, the rest of his family’s in Ireland on a visit. I got off the phone with him and John said, “why didn’t you invite him for dinner?” And of course, John was right – you have to be alert for those times when your schedules may mesh and you get the chance to catch up with them.

They do grow up so fast. I’ll call Jim now and see if he wants to come over this weekend – and then start getting ready for those little girls tonight.

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