The last one.
In years gone by, I’ve packed cars to the brim and tucked two… and a half… kids into them. Heading off for college move-in days.
And now here I am… three weeks or so from packing up Gronk* and heading south with a truck full of number three and a half’s stuff.
There will be clothes.
Sheets, pillow cases, quilt.
Hangers, laundry bag.
Notebooks, pens, pencils.
The same ones I got him for first day of kindergarten.
Everyone needs a good glue stick.
For eighteen years I have been beholden to the universe for the gift of watching this baby…boy…young man.
Our surprise gift.
Born after we were far away from diapers and brain suckers – you know, those blue things that suck noses clear. And that smell…
Oh that baby smell.
Sure, I listened to his older sister scream my name when he crashed her Lego towers with his clumsy toddler hands.
And watched as his big brother came stomping downstairs with another broken game controller… “Mooooooommmm! It was the best one!”
And mediated as the two older kids tried in vain to make their case that their little brother was getting something – Gameboy, Nikes, cell phone, laptop… – that they had to be a lot older before they got it.
That one they never won. Sam really didn’t have a leg to stand on anyway.
Mac used to argue the same about him.
And I can’t say that some of these things didn’t make me smile… including when 18 month old Gabe drank a bunch of strawberry-smelling shampoo and hiccupped out a bubble and I laughed my way all the way downstairs to call poison control.
Not a lie.
The others always did send in ‘the cute one’ when they wanted a favor/privilege/special outing/new toy.
And ‘the cute one’ would wander in, sometimes too young to even understand what he was asking for… and, ya. He probably got it.
Well… they did.
JoHn and I saved ‘no’ for the big things.
Eh, a new soccer ball or rad mohawk isn’t going to spoil a kid.
Crappy morals, ethics, values…
Those’ll break ’em.
Actually almost all of the stuff that I remember, in my memory flashes, about how the older kids treated their surprise baby brother?
It’s pretty awesome.
Sam teaching Gabe to hold his special guitar.. then his bass. “Sit here. Okay hold it on your lap like a baby…”
Mac reading Where the Wild Things Are, Gabe snuggled up next to her in his bed. Making all the right roar and gnash and roll sound effects, exactly where they should be. Exactly where I put them for her, when we would read it… snuggled in her bed… years before.
Mac and Sam taking their jobs very, very seriously in the years after they found out the big secret… knowing that Gabe was the last to believe in Santa Claus. No way they were blowing it. ‘Mom, did you put the cookies out?’ ‘Take bites, Dad! It has to look real!’… ‘Gabe, wake up, shhhhh… we think Santa came!’
Mac, Sam, and Jack checking in with him on his high school life. Friends, girls, grades.
All of them making silly signs, with crayons and markers, on visits home to see their little brother’s soccer games. ‘Go Gabiago! We Love Gabe!’. Hugs when he walked off the field… win or loss.
The hugs when they see each other. The inside jokes and stories his entire childhood in the making.
This youngest kid may have suffered a bit at the bigger hands and mouths of older siblings when he wanted the good game controller or DVD choice or when he chose to tell on them…
He didn’t just get Mom and Dad having his back as he grew up.
He got a whole team.
I know, right?
When Gabe was little, he had a blanket. A soft green and white blanket that got ratty and tatty as the best-loved blankets often do. He called it ‘Turtle’.
That blanket went everywhere with him and, for a period of time, he even wore Turtle as a cape.
I remember him running through the house.
A blanket as a cape, and Spiderman underwear.
Even now, I am still his Mom.
Seeing him as a grown up…
Remembering him as a superhero.
And now, here he goes again.
But this time, not screaming through the house… but leaping into life.
Ripping open the shirt.
Tying on the cape.
Taking a deep breath.
Ready to fly.
*Gronk is my truck. Tough, and fun… just like the Mr. Gronkowski he is named for.
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