By the time the little lady and me had 5 kids even the grandparents were beginning to think we should call a halt to all that progeny production. They were concerned that we couldn’t handle any more. I can’t imagine why they would think that. Maybe it was the premature bags under our eyes or that tremble in our hands on occasion. By this time the oldest was about 8 and the youngest was finishing out those terrible twos (frankly her twos weren’t nearly as bad as some of her older siblings). I recall that the little lady’s ob/gyn had also been on her about “doing something” because he thought she had endured enough abuse from all those tiny fuzzes turning somersaults in her tummy over the last 8 years.
Well there were seven of us at this point and we were in a kind of rhythm with the chores that went with that herd. It was our exhaustion that sometimes got in the way of all that fun we were having. At the worst of times it was fun. So we decided another go was the ticket. I mean it is always so awkard getting seating for 7 at a restaurant. That odd number doesn’t fit very well. With one more we would all fit just right in one pew at Church. We had the space in the van we were driving then so why not fill it up. So unto us another pregnancy came. I swear the grandmas were more concerned about the little lady this time than they were the very first time around. They worried that the house work and chaufferring would drive her mad or to collapse. But she was a tough gal and heck we even kept playing tennis until her eighth month! Of course she was a complete weeney about it and insisted that I hit the balls close to her so she didn’t have to run far.
When arrival time came our neighbor came down to watch the kids until the grandparents arrived as we went off to the hospital. She even brought her own ash tray. Like with all the others we didn’t know the sex and so we were delighted that the caboose was a boy. The delivery was easy and we couldn’t wait to get home to show him to his brother and sisters. His older brother just wanted to look at him a couple of times to satisfy his curiosity I suppose and that was enough for him, but the sisters were in hog heaven. They loved having their own live doll to play with.
Since he was the last to bless our house we made the deliberate decision to give him the first name mentioned in the Bible as a mark for him and for us. It was a beginning, not an end. Because we were so busy with all that crew we often had to put him in the highchair just for his own protection. There was always a whirlwind of activity through the kitchen. His mom paid special attention to him because he was her last baby and she even nursed him longer than the others merely to maintain that special closeness as long as she could. With so much running up and down the stairs and bam boom chaos we would find him often having fallen asleep in the strangest places, behind chairs, in closets,etc. He was a great baby. Next to number two he was probably the easiest of them. When he got older he would write little notes and slip them under the door when me or the wifey were trying to take a bath or be in the bath room.
He did fine in school but got worked over in the 4th grade. His grades were a little low but nothing of concern. Then the principal and his teacher call us in and tell us he is dyslexic and that he has to repeat the 4th grade. I offered private tutoring in reading but they had this new program and were anxious to demonstrate how it worked so wonderfully. Well, to hell with that. The principal said if we wouldn’t agree then they would just fail him. With that I really blew up. It wasn’t fair to my son. I pointed out rather forcefully that all his grades were passing even up to the moment they brought us in to talk. I didn’t think it fair to make him think he wasn’t achieving the way he should. I leaned pretty hard and let the principal know that if he failed him on the record that there would be real trouble with me. Well, he saw the light of day and that he couldn’t fail him because his grades were passing. It was very important to me that he get the grades that he had earned and not have his record marred with someone’s perception of his abilities. Many tests and analysis later we got him into a good private school. Yes, he did attend some special reading classes but it was no big deal. As the final irony he turned out to be very literate and an excellent writer. His major in college was journalism for gosh sakes. I never regretted the row I made over his grades. I’ll be damned if someone will ever do harm to one of mine.
I got to coach in little league football where the team had modest success but he performed quite well. In later years in middle school and hi school he played for one really good team and then had to suffer through a couple years of terrible coaching. Even when the record was bad I relished every moment watching him play. He was good at his position and had the right spirit and attitude. He had a really bad injury to his wrist and we had to have surgery that wreas pretty complicated. It worked just in time for his senior year. I held my breath every time he was involved in a collision which was darn near every play. He did make it through the entire season until the last game when he got hurt again, but not the wrist. I was so worried about the wrist I ignored his knee until we learned it was pretty banged up. He had stalwart courage and displayed it that year. We had our ups and downs as you do with all your children. I got him a SUV when he turned 16. It lasted only a short while before he totaled it in downtown where his school was and my office. This was pre cell phone days and I was at the office when the call came in about the accident. I didn’t even get my car but ran to the location which was only a few blocks away. My heart was in my throat the whole time, especially when from a distance I saw his vehichle up on the sidewalk and badly damaged. He was alright thankfully. I could have wrung his neck for scaring me like that. The hassle and money was secondary. But he owned up to everything straight up like a man. I admired that, no excuses, no cover up.
Of course there is that famous or infamous incident when he ran away so he wouldn’t have to get on the bus for summer camp. With all those kids we badly needed that 2 and a half weeks alone in the summer to recharge our batteries. It was a great camp but I can and did then understand that some were reluctant to go. When we got up that morning he had disappeared and his sister came running to me to tell me he had run away. Well, I was pretty experienced by this time so I didn’t panic but started looking around and he couldn’t be found. We had to get all of them to the bus very early in the morning for the ride to the camp. I couldn’t find him any where including outside or in the alley. Time was running short. I did announce in a very loud voice that we would find him sooner or later and that when we did I would put him on the next plane by himself to fly up to camp. Well, the little weasle finally revealed himself at the last moment from out of the bushes just next door. A quick sigh of relief and then a mad dash to get to the bus before it left. We really cut it thin but we made. He endured camp like a trooper and he did have his older siblings there to check on him and the little lady and I did the things that were impossible when they were at home, like sleeping in to 7:30 in the morning!
I will not go into detail about his post college foray around the world. His older sibs had jaunted here and there and he decided to try Australia. He was gone about half a year. He came back with his Jack Kerouac outlook. Thankfully a few months at home kicked the dust off that attitude and he did get to experience life its ownself for a while which was a good thing.
Some were planned and some merely happened. I am thankful each day of my life that we did make that foolish decision to have one more child. He indeed was the start of something, a beginning. Fortunately we sometimes get so much more than we deserve or merit. Number six blessed us a thousand fold and we did receive more joy and pure happiness than should be allowed for having him. He was last to arrive but never last in our hearts.