This picture reminded my of something that happened while in Greece.
It happened that one afternoon, when it was just Fanis, Paula and little Irini (big Irini is George’s daughter in Greece, Yiayia Irini is my mother), the cutie on the left in the picture, driving together for about an hour.
She was talking to us, about whatever she was thinking, and it struck me that I couldn’t remember ever having such a long conversation entirely focused on her. There are a number of reasons:
Her charismatic, if safety-challenged, brother is sort of my favorite, and not afraid to make himself the center of attention.
I see her during family get-togethers, and even then she’s taking care of the little kids, and not heard much. we have short conversations but nothing “deep.”
As I listened to her, I realized that the impression everyone has of her being a sweet, sweet little girl is correct. I told her how much I enjoyed just having her talk for a while, being able to focus on her an her thoughts. She is funny, smart, and thoughtful, and did I mention sweet?
I am not ignoring the larger societal issue about women being heard, although I am not blind to how that correlates to my own loving ignorance of my niece’s life.
No, this is much more microcosmic. Whenever I see this child, and the sweetness that oozes out of her, I am left with one hope, mostly for her parents. That she be the rare teenage girl who maintains that sweetness. That she attain her independence more quietly than anything I’ve lived through, either with my sister, friends, or kids. The world is a better place because of her sweetness.
And trust me, she has the steel inside the velvet glove, so I am not advocating for a wallflower-ish pushover.
So to her parents, know that I am praying that the second one will be nice. I know that eventually both of them will be, again. It’s too late for the boy, but I can hope for her.