My darling nephew Juju is 3 year old today. Yay! Here is the invite to his party in the park, where there is gonna be a 'train' to ride all around. All aboard!
We call him so many names: Juju is the main nickname, Juji, Huhu (Spanish pronunciation), Yuyu, Jujucito, Jujimeyer, Jujer, the Juj, and then all of the Chinese ones like 'little cutie,' 'little precious,' 'little heart liver.' (vital), 'Luo big head', 'little purse,' and further Spanish ones like 'lindo,' Jujulindo,' and 'precioso.' Whenever we'd ask, 'Who's Juji?' he'd raise his hand...'Who's Jujimeyer?' he'd raise his hand...'Who's little precious?' 'Who's little heart liver?' 'Who's Jujulindo?' he'd keep his hand up for the duration. He caught onto the drills quickly and with humor.
Juju shares a birthday with Mahalia Jackson, Hilary Clinton, the Shah of Iran, actor Bob Hoskins, and Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham.
The Juj has a great life. Super-cool parents who are fun and kind and speak many languages to him. Lots of good food to go with his hearty appetite and polite manners (once when he was 2, he asked, 'can I please have some broccoli?'). He's got many interesting books and a good memory to be able to finish sentences as the first parts are read to him. He's curious and asks lots of questions. He's funny and fun. And the best part--he's psyched to be alive.
As y'all who are around kids know, it's amazing how slow the days go, but then how quickly time goes by also. You miss a couple of days and you miss little personality revealings and gosh, growth. And so it's super tough being away from the Juj for so long. Please indulge a homesick auntie on the occasion of her nephew's 3rd birthday, with a li'l walk down Jujimeyer Lane.
Here's the Juj at 5 months old. His ma, my sister Su, calls it 'Juju loves flowers.'
One day, when he was 8 months old, we were rolling around on the big bed. I held him in my arms and we would do 'pilates' by rolling backwards and then back up. It was a blast. Su caught us on the upswing here:
This past summer, Juju and I were very big on dancing to the Balkan Beat Box. It's super fun, high energy music that inspires ecstatic dancing. Our favorite is the 'Chicken Cha Cha', the first cut on the first album which starts with crowing and a woman coolly exclaiming 'Dance.' It's non-stop from there. We can go about 50 minutes straight--perfect cardio I'd say. Freedom, creativity, spontaneity, movement at its best. One major dance jam was with Su and my pal Sujata--we used up every breath of air in the room. 'Like this' Juju'd say, putting his hands on the floor and kicking up his feet. 'And then like this' rolling across the sofa. We'd follow him, dancing around like a funky, rambunctious train.
Like a typical boy, he loves anything with wheels and machinery. Trains. Trucks. Transporters. Diggers. Excavators. Bulldozers. Lots and lots of firetrucks. The first obsession: garbage trucks. Fascinating. The beep-beep-beeping as it'd back up. The mechanical arms that would lift the dumpsters up and unload stuffs into the back. Amazing. Here he is, just after turning 1, riding around on his first wheels:
One of the cool things about Juju is that he can have fun anywhere. Even if there are no toys, anything can be a toy. Once when he was taking a bath in my sparse Echo Park apartment, I gave him a couple of cups and a plastic container and a whole scene of making coffee emerged. Kids are great that way. The imagination is flexible and strong (and allowed)--in life, kids are the first natural avant-gardists.
Here we are on a kung-fu break when he was 2.
My cousin Johnny found a cereal bar on Westwood Blvd. in Los Angeles (just below Wilshire) named, yup: Juju. We had to take a gander. It's opened 7am to 7pm, cuz cereal ain't just for breakfast anymore (right bachelors and married boys?) There are over 70 kinds of every cereal, from sugar coated to super-roughaged, and the milk comes in a carafe. Juju has always been very comfortable wearing hats, and this is one of his faves, being a train enthusiast and all.
Juju's dear nanny Rosa gave him an electric 'guitar' for his second X-mas. Definite jamming possibilities. Juju's dad, Patrick, is a cinematographer and a drummer, who has been diligently figuring out songs on the guitar with help from the internet. He has a wide assortment of music, of all genres, a panoply of moods and rhythms. The Juj was into the Beatles and Bob Marley early on. His mom has always sung lots of songs to him and can adapt anything (like Elmo's World) on the piano. The trio have been known to play as a band in inspired moments.
We are all tennis enthusiasts and would one day like to sit in the family box of the French Open or Wimbledon.
The park where we all usually play tennis is where Juju had his birthday party. I'm so sad to have missed it, celebrating the festivities and having a go around in the tractor, I mean train. He goes to the pre-school at this same park, so now, on top of all of his usual playmates, he has lots of new friends to ride in the train with. Woo woo! I definitely plan to definitely make next year's party. Definitely.
Happy Birthday, Juju!
Labels: balkan beat box, birthday, chicken cha cha, flower, guitar, juju, juju cereal bar, pilates, play tennis, tricycle