Early one morning, just before the sun peeked its face over the horizon, #8 pushed open our bedroom door. He sidled up to the bed, staring at his sleeping mother and began to say very softly, “Mom… Mom… Mom… Mom…” until she woke up.
While at his grandmother’s getting babysat, #8 imparted his wisdom to his grandmother. He held up her phone to show the photo she affixed to the backside. Pointing to one of his uncles, he said, “You don’t have him anymore.”
To be clear, the uncle he referred to is still quite alive. He joined the Army and is away at training. But to a little boy, distance is the equivalent to the lack of possession.
His grandmother leaned over him chuckling. Her own experience with nine children led her to understand him with the clarity of a composer reading a symphony. “No, he’s not here anymore is he?”
#8 shook his head. He stared at the picture like an old friend.
“Do you remember him very much?”
He nodded, a wide tooth grin breaking his face like a river through a desert. “Yeah,” he laughed, squinting up at her. “He played.”
And that much is as true as gospel. Before my brother enlisted, he was one of the ringleaders to start games with our children. Whether they were battling out a spirited game of “Bang-Bang-You’re-Dead,” or skulking outside playing “Hide-N-Seek,” the games were always led by their uncles. And before they started to go off for their own careers, all four uncles were engaged in the games outside.
Now that one uncle had joined the Army, another in the Navy, and the third working full time, our children’s game leaders are greatly diminished. However, that does not mean they forget them. Though #8 was only three when his uncle enlisted in the Army, he knew his uncle.
He played with him.
We have had a little mystery in our house lately. Specifically in the front bathroom. The lid on the toilet water tank had been moving. Not when anyone was there to witness. No, it simply would be askew when someone came in. It might shift left or right. And on one occasion, it fell side long into the water tank.
Wife and I took the children to the zoo, joined by my parents and most of my brothers and sisters. All together, we made up a party of nineteen. Not the biggest party the zoo had seen, I’m sure, but large enough for us. We traversed the San Diego Safari Park like a pack of escaped monkeys, jabbering and pointing, with small children hanging from our backs. Continue reading
When the early winter flu swept through our home, it hit everyone. Thankfully, the household mostly fell ill in twos and threes. Otherwise, I suppose if we all got sick at once, you would have read about it in the obituaries. As it was, we were simply a pitiful sight of sore throats, runny noses, and headaches.
When #8 came down with it, he toddled over to my knee and touched his throat with one finger. “It horwts,” he complained.
“Does it hurt here?” I asked lightly touching his throat.
“Yeaaaah…” #8 whined. “I neeeeed Band-Aid”
Oh yes. Have you forgotten how Band-Aids fix everything at a certain age? Stubbed toes. Cut fingers. Bumped heads. Bee stings. Bruises.
No. To tell the truth, I do not remember either. But, I remember it with siblings. And now, I cannot get away from it. For the last eleven years, I have had children at that age. Whether they need it or not, they want a Band-Aid.
I knew a Band-Aid would not help #8, and told him so. He responded with a, “Noooohohohohoo, I neeeed Band-Aid.”
I realized he was at a point beyond reason, somewhere between laid-up-in-bed and too-stubborn-to-listen. So, I did the next best thing. I took him to his mother.
Wife took her little boy in her arms, laughing out loud as I told her #8’s solution to his sore throat. She kissed the top his head and said, “A Band-Aid won’t help you with your throat, silly boy. But come with me. Mom knows how to help you.”
#8 frowned, and I could almost hear him think out loud, “Why can’t Band-Aids help?”
Wife took #8 by the hand, impossible to escape. She led him to her arsenal of vitamins, oils, and all-around-will-make-you-better. The vitamin C went down easily, and #8 asked for a second. The vitamin D, which is a nastily white goo that tastes like chalk mixed with lime, was a challenge for the little boy swallow. But the purple antioxidant powder caused the most trouble, and #8 did his best to refuse it.
“Good boy,” Wife cooed once he finished swallowing. “Now I’ll get you some vinegar and honey to soothe your throat.”
Oh… why can’t Band-Aid fix everything?
As you are all aware, Christmas, and its entire season, has since passed. But, I had written little about our holiday experience, and still wanted to share. And so, like Rip Van Winkle, better to show up late than never.
I remember a time when the children’s comfort was our daily goal. To keep the child happy and dry held our undivided attention. Unless she was sleeping, the baby did not leave our arms. And Heaven help us if the toddler’s socks got wet. I suppose you might say we learned that the children are not as breakable as we first thought. Continue reading
The time had come. The chains had to be broken. The cycle had to stop. New rules had to be set in motion. For man does not live on bread alone. (Dramatic enough?)
It was time to wean #8 from his bottle. Continue reading
Ever since #10 joined our club, I have had a little trouble with some of our members. Well, really only two, #8 and #9. It is not that they dislike their little sister or resent their mother. It is a problem of space. They cannot occupy the same space at the same time, despite how hard they push each other.
#8 appointed himself my honorary second shadow. When I tramp through the house, or out in the yard, he was not far behind. Because of that, I have started walking very quickly to give myself some space. Continue reading