The Baby

No. 3 was the cutest baby with the biggest eyes. 
Yeah I dressed my son up as a flower. All my kids were forced to pose in that outfit. Why should he get special treatment? Also, don’t tell the girls, but he probably looked the best in it.
2010-06-22 18-58.jpeg
A pose that sums him up well. 
As does this one.
This kid turns 15 on Sunday. I can hardly believe it.
He was, without a doubt, the neediest of all the babies. He craved constant attention and holding. But, he was the youngest. The last kid. So he got it. He was so coddled.*
As a toddler, he was full-throttle: go-go-go, laugh-laugh-laugh.
I had Mondays off of work and so this was also his day off from preschool. The two of us would hang together. Just us. He enjoyed our adventures, no matter if they were legit (the zoo!) or errands (DSW was his own personal hell). Once when he was maybe a year and a half, I dragged him into Victoria’s Secret to bra shop. He sat in his stroller in the corner of the dressing room and just giggled. This should not have been that fun for him, and I turned around. He was pulling my discarded bras onto his head. Such a jokester.
He prides himself on being quick witted. He’s still a jokester. When he was called up to participate in the finals of his middle school’s spelling bee last year, he sauntered up in front of the school, turned to face the audience and pulled off his tear-away pants (he had a second pair on underneath). He brought down the house.
It goes without saying that he’s handsome. Just look at those eyes. He would roll them when older women would gush, telling him he had such pretty peepers.
“I wish people would stop saying that,” he would mutter under his breath.
“One day, those eyes are going to be the reason some teenage girl gives you free fries at McDonald’s,” I told him.
I love how he just rolls with things, nothing seems to faze him. Even when it should.
The downside to this is forgotten school assignments and chores, grades that could be better and laundry that can sit in piles for days. Weeks. Even after he’s reminded daily to put it away.
While he can be considerate at times, it’s not consistent. I’m working on that. I’ve already started sensitivity training with him because I want him to always be thoughtful and think of others first.
Not too long ago, he was at a sleepover and when I got up the next morning, I saw he’d sent a text a little after midnight.
Going to bed
Luv u.”
My heart soared.
Then I realized his parent hosts must have told all the boys to text their moms. Of course I was right. He didn’t send that text without prompting.
When he goes off to college, he’s gonna be so outta here. We’ll never hear from him. So I’m thankful for those apps that let you surreptiously keep tabs on your kids. I will need them.
In honor of No. 3’s 15th birthday, here is a chapter from This. written for him. I guarantee you he has not read it because he admitted to me months ago he is only about half way through the book. I was surprised he was that far (see why he needs sensitivity training? But, I guess I’m happy he didn’t lie about it).
There’s something special about the bond between moms and sons. Little boys so love their mommies. I am banking on that being the case for big boys, too.
IMG_7294.jpegI snapped the picture because I thought it would be funny. Instead, it almost made me cry.
The image showed two feet, one left, one right. The smaller toes on both tootsies are buddy-taped — I love that description — together because the pinkies were broken. What are the odds my youngest child and I would break our pinky toes just a week apart?
I zoom in on the photo, survey my blue toenail polish, chipped and growing out. The foot up against mine is so big. Dirty nails that need to be clipped. The medical tape is
also grungy, smudged with dirt. The toes extend past mine, dark hair carpets the leg.
This is my sons foot. My 12-year-old boy. My baby.
There was a time that he himself was buddy-taped to me. So long and yet not so long ago.
We started as a family of four, had two girls almost two years apart and didnt find out what we were having before either of their births. I distinctly remember holding No. 2,
our second daughter, in the hospital and my husband smiling, saying, “This feels right. Two girls.”
We were happy.
But, Id always liked the idea of three kids. I dont know why. I just did. Something about that odd number.
I didnt push it. I figured that was that.
Then a few years later, my husband said that you dont regret the things in life you do, you regret those things you dont do. That was his pitch to get lucky that night. He was
ready to go for a third kid. We no longer had anything — no strollers, no crib, no baby car seat but I was still game.
Though we didnt care if we were having a boy or a girl, on this our bonus go-round, we decided to find out the gender anyway. Why not? Do something different.
The girls were with us as my OB squirted blue jelly onto my huge belly. That loud and fast watery whooshing sound along with the fluttery heartbeat flooded the room.
“You’re having a boy!”
My husband beamed. I actually felt a little…disappointed.
I knew what to do with girls. I had two. A boy? Wouldnt that be weird? Odd man out. And then I realized, oh, were gonna get peed on.
His birth wasnt easy. My doctor told me later that she was actually going to have me reach down and help deliver my little boy, my son. But, things had gone awry with the
epidural. It was too high. I had trouble breathing, my chest was quasi paralyzed. But good news! My boobs didnt feel a thing! Back came the anesthesiologist. The second time
seemed to work better, I could breathe anyway, until I realized too late that I could feel down there…Dammit — I could feel! Every push sent waves of pain. I was in no mood to help deliver my own child. I am pretty sure there was one point when I was yelling that we should just leave him in.
At 8 pounds, 11 ounces most of that head — accidental natural childbirth wasnt the most pleasant experience, but I survived. When his room is a mess or I have to wait an extra long time after school, I make a point of reminding him of this.
Two big sisters meant constant attention and germs.
That little dude got his first cold when he was barely two weeks old. He wasnt even a month old when RSV, respiratory syncytial virus, attacked. He wheezed, every breath crackly like tissue paper. Had he not been such a big, otherwise healthy boy, hed have been hospitalized. Instead I brought him to the doctor for regular breathing treatments and spent two solid weeks, day and night, sitting straight, upright in a chair, his body pressed against mine, so he could breathe easier.
Perhaps it was that initial beginning that led to the little dude always wanting to be held. Always. We have video of the most amazing, pathetic weepfests arms held straight
up, bottom lip quaking with anger where he was just begging to be picked up.
When he was old enough to sleep in a big boy bed, the early riser would get up and toddle into our room. Id reach down and pick him up, tucking him into bed next to me,
and wed both get a few hours of extra sleep. My husband was not a fan of this little trick. I loved it. I was painfully aware it could stop at any time. When he turned 6, it did. I reveled in how even when he was a little boy, not a toddler, hed still reach up to take my hand. I felt so special.
I look at him now and were nearly eye-to-eye. Hes still not into bathing or grooming. Hes not spending a good chunk of his 13th year in front of the mirror. Thats cool.
Im not looking forward to the day that hell cocoon himself in an Axe body spray chrysalis.
Hes quieter now. I get mostly monosyllabic answers  about his school day. It’s not enough to ask “How was your day?” I have to specifically inquire, “What was the best
part of today?” Even then I’m not guaranteed much of an answer.
Its harder to talk to him, unless its basketball-related, which puts me at an extreme disadvantage of saying something meaningful.
His big sisters have influenced him over the years. They won him over to Care Bears and pink when he was 3. Im hoping it means hell be more in tune with how to treat
girls, that is, once he decides theyre not totally gross. It always takes boys longer to decide that. The girls, though, already are circling. They send texts and try to hang out with him after school. In the car on the way to his first middle-school dance, I told him if any girl asks him to dance, just do it. It doesnt mean anything. Doesnt mean she wants to be your girlfriend or get married, she just wants to dance. With you. And, it should be an honor that someone wants to dance with you.
I told him how I summoned up all my courage to ask cute, shaggy-haired Darren, in his brown leather jacket, to slow-dance when I was in eighth grade. He pretended not
to hear me. His friend Steve elbowed him.
“Just dance with her, dude.”
After an excruciatingly awkward pause, he did. A shuffle of shame. The last thing he wanted to do was dance with me. He only did it because his friend made him.
“Be a good guy like Steve,” I counseled him, as he stared straight out the window, not indicating he was even listening. “Don’t be a jerk like Darren.”
He needs to use deodorant and his smelly socks make my eyes water when he takes his shoes off in the car. He burps and farts and thinks its funny to do both and all I
want to do is grab the biggest roll of adhesive I can find and buddy-tape him to my side. Or at the very least, hold his hand one more time.


*My husband says “spoiled” but I disagree.


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