… on making a point with a perfect boy


Gabe. Disney World, 2008. Ya. Typical little brother.

… on making a point with a perfect boy

That’s Self-Proclaimed Perfect Boy, Gabe right there.

Why do I call him that?

Because he has signed every card, “Gabe, The Perfect Boy” for as long as I can remember.

Obviously this elicits eye rolls from his older sister and brother.

Obviously he knows this.

Doesn’t matter.

He’s the youngest.

It’s his job to annoy them.

I’m pretty sure I gave birth to him and a little scroll outlining his job description came out as part of the package.

Sadly, as with the others, he did not come with a User’s Manual.

Mac showed up first. Beautiful. Planned.

Sam showed up, in a flurry of medical melodrama, 22 months later.



Gabe showed up four years after that.


So Gabe arrived after Mac and Sam had four years of bonding under their belts.

Oh sure, he was cute and cuddly and he fed their four and six-year-old little egos by giggling and laughing at just about every face they made or wacky gesture they could come up with. And they seemed to like him okay.

And then he walked.

And followed them around.

And took their toys.

And ran to Mom and Dad screeching and crying if they tortured him.

And, as we all know from the master of parenting, Bill Cosby, “Parents are not interested in fair. They are interested in quiet!”

And we were.


So I’m pretty certain that’s how we scarred Mac and Sam for life.


No, that’s not it.

We scarred Mac and Sam for life in the year 2008.

We had planned a magical family vacation.

We were going to Disney World, our favorite family place to go.

So we surprised the kids by waking them up in the wee hours of a school morning. We said, “Hey guys, instead of going to school this morning, how about we go to Disney World?!”

And much cheering and fun and excitement followed.

So we all put on the t-shirts depicting our respective favorite characters (including Granny (Tigger)), and we head down to Disney World and it. Is. Awesome.

We head to the Magic Kingdom and I well up (as I always do) when Tinkerbell flies right before the fireworks start.

We do the ‘Dingle Wash and Dry’ by running back and forth between Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain.

We share spaghetti at Tony’s just like in The Lady and the Tramp.

We see Fantasmic at MGM Studios and we ride Rockin’ Rollercoaster.  We watch scary B-movies at the Sci-Fi Diner and scream our lungs out on the Tower of Terror.

We head out on safari at Animal Kingdom, get stung by insects at A Bugs Life, watch Tarzan, and get scared by dinosaurs.

We shoot the works.

And on our last full day, we head over to Epcot in the morning.

Now, at this point Gabe has been in Mac’s and Sam’s lives for 9 or 10 years.

And he is the Self-Proclaimed Perfect Boy.

Mac and Sam refer to him as ‘The Favorite’ (They also refer to him as ‘Fed Ex’ and ‘Mistake’ but it is all with love and a great deal of humor and physical violence (okay, tackling and the occasional punch in the shoulder. But that is physical and sort of violent.)

We have suffered charges of ‘The Favorite’ and ‘The Baby’ for years at this point.

And, that morning, on the way to Epcot, when Sam said he wanted one of those big lollipops with all the swirly colors, we were amenable.

The trouble started when we walked in and we were on our way into the World Showcase, where all those countries are represented.

We didn’t want to stop at the big souvenir shops on the way in, and Sam began to complain that it wasn’t fair because he wasn’t getting his lollipop.

And when we passed another souvenir shop, he complained again.

And we explained that there were lollipops in the park itself, but that didn’t seem to work.

He complained a little here, and a little there, every eighteen steps or so.

Then we passed a little cart and Gabe asked for a water bottle and John stopped and got one.


All Hell broke loose at that point.

Now Mac joined Sam in complaining that he hadn’t gotten his lollipop this whole time, but little ‘Gabey’ wants something and he gets it right away!

And it goes on and on as we walk and walk and walk to the World Showcase.

And Gabe is happily sucking down his water and Mac and Sam are poopy and complaining and then…

I snapped.

Oh, I didn’t yell.

I didn’t resort to violence.

I didn’t even make a mean face at the two of them.

I simply made my “I got this” eyes at John, and sweetly turned to my two oldest cherubs.

I said, “You think he’s the favorite?”


“You think he gets everything he wants?”


“You think that’s unfair?”


This whole time, Gabe is in the middle of us, watching our exchange as if he is enjoying a match from the royal box at Wimbledon.

So I turn to Gabe and I ask him if he knows how many countries are in Epcot.

And he says no.

And I say that there are a lot of countries in Epcot. Like eleven.

And he can get one thing. Any one thing.

From Every. Single. Country.

And he looks at me with big eyes.

And Mac and Sam look at me with big eyes.

And then they look at John and yell, “DAD!” (as if he can help them now).

And then I twist the knife by sending Gabe to Perfect-Child nirvana.

“Gabe.” I say, “I’m pretty sure England has some great soccer stuff.”

The kid shifts from neutral to third gear in the blink of an eye and we are off!

We went to every single country.

And, did you know, almost every one had soccer stuff!

Gabe got a Chelsea shirt from England, a soccer ball from Italy, and another shirt from Germany. There weren’t any good soccer things in America, so he got a great jacket and soccer socks from Mexico.  I don’t even know what he picked up in France or Morocco or Japan, Norway, or China, but he got something from all of ’em.

And the whole time, in between rolled eyes (and, yes, laughing and even helping Gabe) Sam would periodically grumble, “All I wanted was a lollipop.

So at the end of the morning, feeling a little tired and ready to head back and do a little afternoon swimming at our hotel pool, we walked toward the exit and John detoured us over to one of the carts and got Sam his lollipop.

Gabe got one too.

Mac abstained.




Thanks for readin’.

We stopped in D.C. on the way back from Disney so Granny, who was a Psychiatric Nurse for the V.A., could visit the Vietnam Memorial (awesome to be able to take her to that), and Gabe had a soccer outfit for every day.

Also: This ended up being one of Mac’s and Sam’s favorite stories to tell. I am confident they will wield it with power and finesse when they bring it out for Gabe’s future girlfriends.

Also, Also: In our family, when we want to make it clear that things have gotten way out of hand, any one of us will say “But all I wanted was a lollipop!”

Also, Also, Also: We get Sam swirly, big lollipops as his souvenir from anywhere we go. Mac and Gabe do this too.

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