I love that Niece is seven years old (and completely potty-trained) so we can do our "girl time" thing. She's got four "brudders" now, y'know. Our mission today was to find a sweater to go over her very lovely but sleeveless Easter dress.
Me: O.K., we found a sweater. Do you have tights? [Meaning opaque stockings for those of you reading in the Midwest]
Niece: Oh, I have a whole drawerful of tights!
Me: Wow. So, uh, do you have a pair of tights that don't have holes or spots on them?
Niece: *pauses* I need tights.
We picked out a package of tights, one black and one white, and a set of sparkly headbands. Ooh la la. She also helped me select a new pair of sunglasses to replace my chipped/scratched-up ones.
After shopping, we made a visit to the church near my house so I could go to Confession before Easter. She hadn't been in this church before, so I showed her the statues and we worked on her making the Sign of the Cross (right hand! right hand!) and genuflecting in front of the tabernacle. She asked where the Mary statue was--I think I mentioned it before we went inside but we were on the side of church opposite it--so I promised her we'd see it on our way out. She sat in the pew patiently (O.K., she switched pews a couple of times before settling down) as I waited behind some faithful seniors, one of whom asked, "Is she your daughter?" I explained she was my brother's little girl, and the man said, "She looks like you!" That was a nice compliment. Then we visited the Mary statue and said a Hail Mary together.
I knew Miss Cereal-for-Breakfast-No-Lunch was getting hungry, so we went to dinner afterwards. God bless the family-friendly restaurants that give children paper menu placemats and crayons. She cracked me up with her coloring antics (putting distressed faces on the chicken strips picture) and her deep thoughts. No, really. She was eating her ice cream and then sat back with a what I thought was a solemn look on her face.
Me: Everything all right?
Niece: I'm thinking happy thoughts.
Me: Like what? Ponies? Kittens?
Niece: Mommy. And Daddy.
Awwwww. I know it hasn't been easy at home with the new baby and all the special attention he needs. (Let's just say the outfit she left the house in was in need of a little fixing-up, which we did when we went shopping.) And she's growing like a weed--I bought mediums for her today, while in September we'd bought her smalls. Oh, and her reading is improving by leaps and bounds--she read the labels on candles, store signs, menus--it's just so nice to watch her in action and give her that encouragement, because I think she had a bit of a regression at or right before she started school.
I hope she knows she'll always have an auntie who loves having "Girl Time" with her. Because I have to agree with Seraphic's thought that Being an Aunt is Cool.
(For the record, I do love all my nephews, too. They just make better park-outing companions than shopping companions.)