Friday, December 3, 2010
"I WANT MY TITI!!!"
"Titi (that's me "auntie") Judy, when I come back from school, will you be here?"
"Yes, mami...Titi will be here."
"Yes, I promise!"
It was about 3 o'clock when she burst through the door. I was in the living room and I could hear her from a mile away. "Titi Judy! Is Titi here?"
She flew into my arms with the biggest smile. Words cannot describe how that little girl makes me feel loved. Her eyes are wide open with wonderment, and hope. Her little arms wrap around me with such fierce intensity. But it is the smile on her face that says it all! It makes me feel warm, wanted...that's love.
"Titi, can we play now? Can we build the thing? Can we have a tea party, and then you can read me a book? Titi, are you staying over?"
"Okay, one thing at a time, ok?"
There was a small kit for children that I'd brought to her a couple of months ago that creates a little soccer game, complete with 2 little people, a ball...of course instructions for the adult. I asked her where the hammer was. Jennyce was so cute as she attempted to bring me a tool box that was almost as big as her. We put it together, and then we played...the little kit was so simple, the materials so "cheap". She didn't even care that the stickers that made it look like a soccer field, and gave the soccer players faces, were not even there.
"Come on, Titi! Let's play! Titi, are you Titi Judy Torres?"
I laughed out loud...first time I heard her say my last name.
"Yes, Jennyce....but you call me Titi, Judy, ok?"
We played for almost an hour, and then I told her that before the teap party we had to eat dinner. She set her own plate and cup, and we sat together at the dining table. I teased her that there was more fool on the table than on her plate. And we talked...one of her favorite things is when I say to her, "Jennyce, let's have a conversation. What would you like to talk about?" She wanted to talk about her best friend, Jasmine. No problem. As I listened, she said, "I told her my Titi Judy loves ladybugs and feathers..and I found a feather today." I was immediately brought back to the day my sister announced that she'd come up with a name for her unborn daughter: Jennyce.
When I was about 10 years old, I'd read a book called A Woman With Substance (still a cool book to me), and there was a character in the book called Jenice (same pronunciation). I thought it was the coolest name. In fact, I thought it was SO cool, that I decided that day that if I ever had a daughter, I'd name her Jenise. I never told a soul, never wrote it down, never shared the idea with anyone for fear that someone would steal it. So on the day my sister announced the name I had a heart attack...ok, almost a heart attack! "That's MY name! You can't use that name, I've been saving it my whole life!" My sister laughed at me...and that was the end of it. When my sister was giving birth, my sister honored me by asking me to stay in the room. The nurse was there saying, "Come on...breathe..." and the murse began counting. My sister's reaction was the same reaction used in sitcoms when women are giving birth: "Judy, tell her to shut up! I don't want her to count!! You count." It was a GREAT day, and when Jennyce was born, I cried...joy. Since that day, Jennyce and I have an inccredible bond...I don't know if it's because of the name or not, but we are close. I feel protective of her - hot just physically but mentally and spiritually. I want her to suffer in life as little as possible. Back to the dinner table.
So there we were talking about ladybugs and feathers, and then she says what I would never expect:
"Titi? When I grow up, I want to be like you. You know what? I don't want my body. I want your body, your face, your smile...everything, Titi! "
I laughed, and said, "Oh, no, you don't want this body."
"Yes, yes I do...you know why Titi?"
"Because it's perfect! You're perfect!"
And you know what? I believed she was telling the truth...that is unconditional love right there...for her to love this chubby body with a bad complexion and hair all wild...that is unconditional! And I smiled with tears in my eyes..."No, Jennyce. YOu are perfect!"
My mom called out, "Judy? Jennyce? You're too quiet over there...what's going on?" LOL.."Grandma, we're having a conversation!" LOL. Afterward, we had our little tea party and all were invited: her mom, me and Grandma. She poured apple juice, served granola bars and fruit snacks for dessert. The best thing was that she actually set the table really well, lol. Unfortunately, my sister had to go somewhere and was bringing Jennyce along, so we had to call it a night, and that's when all hell broke loose. Actually all hell breaks lose EVERYTIME I am about to leave, or we are being separated.
"Titiiiiii!! Titiiii!!! Noooooo!!! I want my Titiiiii!" Tears bursting out so fast and hard they were almost shooting out the way they do in cartoons. That child can SCREAM!! LOL. And it breaks my heart EVERY TIME she says 'I want my Titi.' I tried to comfort her. "Listen, Titi will be back. I always come back, right? Look, when you're on Christmas vacation, you can come to my house and stay with me for a few days, ok?" Immediate silence...as quick as a flick of a switch. "I can stay at your house?" "Yes, Mami." "Okay." My sister took her hand, and I said goodbye, and it began all over again.
"Titiiiiiii!!!" I want my Titiiiii!" With Jennyce's free hand she grabbed at my sweater. "Nooooo...I want Titi!" My sister's eyes look at me like, "Oh, well...she loves you that much." Funny thing is that my sister, when her age, did the EXACT same thing! She pulled away from my sister and threw herself to the ground, and wrapped her strong, glue-like arms around my leg. She held on like her life depended on it. After being pulled from me, she was in the car, and I waved good-bye.
I woke up this morning, remembering her smile and the glow on her face when she saw me. And I realized. What I had heard through many people my whole life: Children don't care what you do with them...they just want your time!! Time with children is a gift, the best gift you can give them. And it is quality time that matters...to sit with them and exchange with them; to treat them like a little adult and listen as if everything they say matters - because it does! Titi Judy loves Jennyce, and Jennyce loves her Titi Judy...and that is perfect!!!