It is 2:46 AM on Christmas Day. My family and I just returned home from the annual Secret Santa get together with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. Since our family has gotten so huge with my Dad’s side of the family immigrating from the Philippines, we initiated an exchange gift at midnight on Christmas Eve. When we were younger, the grandchildren watched until the clock struck midnight. These days, we’re much older, and the gift exchange starts as soon as the first great-grandchild arrives from her nap, even if its five past midnight. Paula Rochee’ Garcia is bigger than a princess. Chee-Chee, as we call her, is a superstar in terms of baby paparazzi. And she deserves every minute of adoration a 2 year old can manifest through her charm, beauty, perfect behavior, and sheer intelligence. Having been actively raised by her parents, grandparents, and a dozen “aunts and uncles,” she is so well adjusted to strangers and her mind is constantly stimulated by everyone trying to teach her new things. She makes me want to have babies. She is the only child I have met that has even slightly convinced me that having children can truly be a beautiful thing.
On a whole other level, I experienced a distinct heart melting feeling the moment she chose me (a stranger sitting on the floor) and sat in my lap. I was surprised, at first, that she chose me over the 50 other people in the room whom she knew on a daily basis. Living 8 hours away in Atlanta, I see Chee-Chee only 3 times a year: Xmas, Thanksgiving, and Independence Day. There is no way she’d recognize me, which kinda makes me sad to think about how much of her amazing little life I am missing out on. She sat on my lap for about 15 minutes total. Sometimes, she’d get up and chase some fancy wrapped package being passed through the room, but then she’d come back. That surprise of her return felt amazing too. And when she sat in my lap… it felt natural for her to sit there, all comfortable like she knew what she was doing. And instead of my usual freaking out, worrying that I’m not doing the right thing to support her, or worrying that she was going to spew/leak/blast some disgusting bodily fluid under my care….it somehow felt natural for her to be there in my lap. There are no words to describe the connection I felt with her sitting close to me. It was as if I could feel the vibration of her soul, against mine…. somewhat similar to the momentary tingling sensation I get in my soul when I feel emotionally connected to a man I love.