Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Breaking Her In

After spending ten days trying to find things I thought Nina (visiting from Brazil) might like to do, it all came together on her last night in our house.

I was a bit worried that our mostly boy themed house might prove to be boring to a 13 year old girl. We are overrun with Legos and Hot Wheels and Scooters and Ripsticks. Daughter is way past having toys and spends her time flipping through fashion magazines and talking to friends on the phone.

So we planned our days strategically. We checked out movies from the library and watched them with English subtitles so she could keep up with the action. We used our season passes to Six Flags several times, once to do the water park, once to ride the rides. We hiked in our woods and swung in the tree swing. She seemed to be entertained and happy.

But then I finally saw beyond happy. I saw her beam.

In her last few hours at our house we had all hunkered down on the couch to watch a show called Wipeout. Six people compete in a crazy obstacle course mainly designed to make them look silly. There is lots of mud and embarrassing falls. Our kids love it. Nina seemed to be enjoying it along with them.

Then she picked up a Nerf gun that was laying on the floor beside her. It had a sniper light that is aimed at the intended target. She turned and aimed it at Gene, Daughter's boyfriend, who was minding his own business, eyes glued to the TV.

He blinked in response to the sudden optical intrusion and she got a kick out of the fact it might be bugging him. Through the whole visit Gene did a great job of making her feel like one of us. He teased her and kidded her much more than I would have, and it made her feel welcome. She, in turn, grew to love being around him and enjoyed his attention.

One thing led to another and within minutes a full scale Nerf war had started.

We have about six Nerf guns in our house and it is a common event for Hubby to make up war games with his boys. I always classified it under 'guy fun'. It never occurred to me that Nina might enjoy it.

But enjoy it she did.

She was on a team with Hubby and Baby boy and they took turns hiding downstairs and stalking the other team, made up of Gene and my other two boys. There was much laughing and yelling and rejoicing and teasing and my Brazilian daughter ate it up.

An hour later, when everyone else was tired and sweaty, ready to call it a night, she was still going strong. It made me sad that it was her last night. But then again it made me happy, that her last memory at our house could be filled with unbridled fun.

I am not sure which stories she told her family first, when she walked off the plane the next day. But I have no doubt before the day was over she had explained in full detail the war she had participated in, in that American house in New York.

And the next time she comes to visit I will skip the typical American welcome gifts and have a big Nerf gun waiting for her. One with all the cool accessories and plenty of extra bullets.

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