Friday, August 08, 2014

Uncle ShuShu

If you want to see the most excited four-year old in the history of ever, come to my house and watch the top of the stairs when the doorbell rings and Jack knows who is waiting on the other side. He throws his whole body into a frenzy of pure joy as his face lights up and he screams at the top of his lungs, "SHUSHU!!!!!! SHUSHU!!!!"

Shushu is the Chinese word for uncle, and in our family, is a title reserved for someone who totally and completely earned it.

It wasn't easy finding someone who was both able and willing to accompany me on the trip to China. It was freaking hard, actually. A three-week commitment on the other side of world, when you have your own job, kids, and life to keep track of, is kind of a big deal. Unlike, say, a touring river cruise throughout Europe, this trip was pretty much guaranteed to be super stressful, chaotic, uncomfortable, and at times downright unpleasant.

In the end only one person signed up, and like my mamma says, has cemented his win as friend of the  year. Maybe even the decade. I knew he was awesome; I just didn't know how awesome.

There is some disagreement at our house over whether Luca is the kids' friend or mine. We all claim him. Jack, I think, is convinced that Lucas is in fact his own personal buddy for life and partner in crime, and that they are peers in every way. One of my favorite things about the trip was hearing Jack's voice wafting down the hotel hallways as he toddled to keep up with Luc: "Shushu! Shushsu!" Especially with a little sister who was physically frail and kinda scared of everything, it was great fun for an active little boy to have a pal who would dunk him in the hotel swimming pool, have stroller races down the halls, and encourage him to decorate his face with food.

I present the evidence for friend of year:

  • He went out a not-insubstantial sum of money to make this happen, including covering things that I'd forgotten about, to the tune of a hefty price tag. 
  • He never got stressed out or tired of singing "Popcorn Popping" for the billionth time. 
  • He kept us all fed. Whether filling everyone's plates (over and over) at the hotel breakfast buffet, hauling boiled water, treating everyone to authentic restaurants and figuring out how to communicate with the wait staff, cooking ramen noodles in a hotel room electric kettle, or late night grocery store runs, we just might have starved without Luc. 
  • He changed poopy diapers. VERY poopy. 
  • He didn't lose his cool when Jack had the mother of all tantrums at an airport in Shangai, nor when Jack topped that with an even worse meltdown mid-flight, somewhere over the Pacific, that lasted almost an hour. 
  • He survived THREE flights--or was it four?--of the worst turbulence known to man, short of actually falling out of sky, and stayed calm for the babies. Seriously, this was grown-adults-screaming-and-crying kind of turbulence. This was make-peace-with-your-maker kind of turbulence. Not just on one flight, but three stupid flights. I have a better sense what hell feels like, now. 
  • He initially agreed to a ten-day trip that turned into a three-week trip. He sacrificed opportunities in his own life and never once made me feel bad for what he was giving up. I did feel bad, but not because of his attitude. He acted like there was nothing else he'd rather do. 
  • Laundry. Endless laundry. Handwashed in hotel bathroom sinks. Every frigging day. Toddler clothes with poop and barf. Ugh. Memories of laundry still trigger anxiety for me. 
  • Luc really enjoys figuring out how to communicate with others. He picked up far more pidgin Chinese than I even attempted. His enthusiasm and sincere interest won us friends everywhere we went, even new pen pals. 
  • He is probably the most patient fellow traveler in the universe. He didn't complain when I couldn't handle even one more hour of the heat, humidity, and smells to have a sightseeing experience he really, really wanted to do. He was understanding when I made a long day even longer in order to visit one of the orphanages, and he didn't object when I wanted to stay on the floor in a dog pile of babies forever (it was our guide who objected and finally forced me to leave). He was more than fine with curtailing most touristy experiences to focus on the needs of two very little ones. 
  • He thought of things I didn't. He bought Jack a car backpack to bring snacks and diapers everywhere we went. Jack was so proud of that grown-up accessory he would have worn it to bed if we wouldn't have allowed him to keep right next to his crib. Luc found places for fresh fruit so Annie would always have healthy options right in the hotel rooms.
About a week after we returned Lucas stayed with the babies for an afternoon so that I could take care of my own dental & doctor appointments, and get some much-needed me time. It was so early that I couldn't have left them with a babysitter, but ShuShu was a thrilling treat, after the disappointment (Jack's) of discovering that ShuShu did not actually live with us.  

As I told the hygienist about our amazing and wonderful ShuShu, she kept trying to write the story into a romance. It was very entertaining, though I kept assuring her that the story of our friendship is most definitely a platonic one. She finally sighed and said, "Ah well. It's a good story. It would be so much better if you two would have fallen in love on this kind of trip." 

I beg to differ. I think people do a lot of wonderful things for other people when they are romantically involved. I think that it's not terribly difficult to be unselfish and kind and generous and thoughtful when sexual attraction is part of the picture. Romance inspires people to heroic feats. 

But to do those things for a friend? A friend where there is no great romance or underlying sexual tension? That's genuine unselfish greatness of heart, and that's why our family is so very blessed to have our own Uncle ShuShu. 


Tiauna Elise Noble said...

That is so wonderful! Everyone needs an ShuShu like that. Maybe when my brother gets out of jail finally he can be that kind of Uncle to our daughters. I'm hoping!

Tiauna Elise Noble said...

Also Wendy, Please send me your email so that I can invite you to my blog
Hey, I'm excited for you to have poop a part of your life again! ( there's my poop comment of the day for you! )

Alisha Hagey said...

You are one of the most giving and wonderful people I have ever met. It makes perfect sense that you would have friends who were and are just like yourself. Love you all!

Sindea Horste said...

Darn it. More tears. I am so glad Luc went with you. He is who needed to go, who needed to be with you. I know it was so stupidly stressful making it all work, and yet I know it is how it was supposed to be. I have always been an admirer of your friendship with Luc, he is a true friend and while you are indeed lucky to have him, he is also lucky to have you, and your entire family. Much love to you all.