Sunday, June 23, 2013

Hi, Ruthie!!!

DISCLAIMER: This entry is about children. Not Juancho or Martina this time (aww) but about some more kids I love. So if you are allergic to cuteness, move on. And think about your pathetic, meaningless life, you little ...

I kid. I kid. 

And speaking of kids ...

I love children. In all shapes and forms. If you've read a few blog entries or if you're my Facebook friend or Instagram follower, then you know this. At some point, you've said to yourself, "Orange must really like kids" or "Wow, another picture of a baby on her wall" or "What?? Another entry about her nephew/niece???" or "One more picture of a baby and I'm going to block her".

(So you're still here, huh?)

When I was in med school, I both dreaded and loved going on duty at the nursery. I loved it for obvious reasons. Being surrounded by newborns? Heaven. Having to extract blood from them? Hell. And here's another fun fact I'd like to share (I've probably written about this before): I cry at cuteness. So it didn't matter if I just had to monitor a baby's heart rate or extract blood from a tiny heel: I cried beside every single crib. During every single nursery duty. To be honest, that is part of the reason I knew I couldn't be a practicing doctor. But that's a whole other blog entry (or maybe a full novel).

(Thinking about blocking me again, huh?)

One of the best things about my latest major trip to the United States was that I met more than one unforgettable kid.

There was 17-month-old Dana, the teeniest, tiniest, softest baby who rarely cried (sometimes, it would just be a lone tear running down her precious cheek) and who grinned at people when they weren't looking so that when they did look, they would get the best smiley surprise ever.

Dana clapping at her cuteness

There was 7-year-old AD, who read and remembered everything. This girl had smarts and creativity and talent oozing out of her every waking second. She would start a crafts project in one corner of the house and then would run to her room to start another one or practice her piano pieces while talking to her pet fish in between her million activities. She taught me that you could wash dollar bills with water. (I don't think I will try it with pesos.)

AD x 2

There was 4-year-old Ava who loved saying my name and proudly introduced me to her best friend even if she barely knew me. She showed me the pantry as part of the home tour and showed me where they kept her cereal. She insisted on sleeping in her princess costume because she wanted to keep being a princess even in her sleep. I cannot argue with this logic.

I promise you I did not put Ava in that basket

There were children I just barely waved at, some I exchanged a few hello's with, and some who I saw when they were sleeping (nothing creepy here, I was with their parents, I promise). I wish I could've spent more time with all of them.

And then there was Ruthie.

I first met Ruthie at the tail end of an extremely difficult day. I had just come from a very emotionally draining meeting at the hospital. In a nutshell, it was about a friend and his cancer, and I embarrassed myself by crying more than the patient. It was such a heavy day that when my sister saw me at one point, she so tactfully and clearly told me that I "looked like hell".

Thanks, Apple. 

Anyway, I met my friends from San Francisco for dinner that night. And they brought their then 8-month-old baby. It was Ruthie. 


When I first held her, she was a bit sleepy and judgy. She pushed me away and looked at me like she found me at the bottom of her shoe after walking through the remains of a cow who had been dead for 4 days.  

This is how that looked.

Baby bewildered
Baby pushing me and my 5 chins away

After a few minutes, Ruthie started to come around and I learned the first profound truth about her: Ruthie was the happiest baby in the world. 

I honestly believe I had to meet her that particular day just to even out the negative emotions of all the hours before dinnertime. Without a shadow of a doubt, I know that Ruthie was sent to be my angel of joy. Because how could you keep a heavy heart after seeing this smile:

Equally happy mother-of-Ruthie seen here

Fast forward to many months later, when I was blessed with the chance to be with Ruthie and her smile again.  

This is Ruthie at 19 months. 


If you haven't guessed from the picture, Ruthie is still the happiest girl in the world. At her age, she might also be the friendliest. I lost count of how many times she said "HI!!!" to us at full volume. It was the kind of "hi" you say when you accidentally see a friend in the mall and you are genuinely happy to see the person (as opposed "desperately attempt to hide behind a mall column"). The kind of "hi" that you cannot ignore. Dinner was just an endless cycle of Ruthie saying "hi", Ruthie sprinting through their house a few times, and then Ruthie seeing us like it was the first time, prompting her to say ... guess what. Needless to say, I loved it. Who cares about having an adult conversation with boring old adults when a baby wants to say "hi"?

Also, I had forgotten how entertaining toddlers learning to talk could be. This is Ruthie practicing some animal words.

And speaking of animals ...

Ruthie's mommy, Pauline, was trying to entertain her using a book with cut-out faces of animals. It was designed so the reader would look like s/he had animal ears and whatnot and you can teach children about animal sounds and the fact that parents will do almost anything for their baby. 

So Pauline stuck her face in the pig-face hole and tried to get some interaction going. 

Mommy: "Hi Ruthie! Hi! Hi!!! What does the pig say?"

Ruthie: (confident) "HI!!!"

She wasn't wrong, you know. 

And speaking of "hi" ... again ...

My last day in the US was spent with Ruthie and her family. Before my flight, we went to downtown San Francisco and, unfortunately for me, Ms Tropical 2013, it was an unsurprisingly chilly day. It was so cold that even Ruthie's smile seemed a bit frozen. Or so I thought.

Mommy: "It's cold, Ruthie. Cold!"

Ruthie: "Cold ... cold ... HI COLD!!!"


Never change, Ruthie. And thank you.

Some of the original pictures of me and 8-month-old Ruthie ("Judgy" and the last one) were taken by Ian Santos. I just filtered the heck out of it. Thanks, Ian!

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