A popping pile of fried pork, beef, steak, a shrimp sat on a sizzle plate in front of me. The bowl of half-eaten guacamole had filled me up before dinner arrived. The boy squirmed at my hip. The server had just brought him a plate covered in french fries cut to look like smiley faces. I turned away for a second and when I looked at my son again, his cheeks were covered in grease.
“What happened to you?” I asked. It looked like he’d just contracted malaria.
“This!” he said, and held two of the smiley-face fries on his cheeks like a fat man’s rouge. There were three giant smiles on his face.
The boy has been my life for more than four years. Every decision I’ve made has been with him in mind. The times I haven’t quit my job, the times I’ve taken on more work than I can handle, the times I’ve thought about getting back into TV…every decision was made with the question, “What’s better for the boy?”
When the wife and I decided to have another kid, it wasn’t only because we wanted one more. It was also because the boy had been asking for a sibling. It changed from “I want a baby brother” to “I want a baby sister” several times, but the sentiment didn’t vary beyond the gender. We were supposed to get about making a baby.
Biology is a funny thing. My wife and I have been together in both heart and otherwise since 1996. There have been several occasions in which we might have been granted a little one without ever really thinking about it. Without getting into too many personal details, suffice it to say that the moment we decided to try for number one, we got number one. A lot of people create unexpected little ones. Our only surprise was that we asked and received one on the first shot across the bow.
Though we’d been talking about Dos for quite a while, pulling the trigger became exceedingly difficult when faced with the prospect of maybe moving to Canada, maybe being out of work, and certainly having an insurance plan that doesn’t cover maternity. Our more logical sides told us it might not be the best time to be bringing a new one into an already cramped house. Our hearts told us that if we were ever going to do it, however, it had to be soon. Neither of us are getting any younger (although I sometimes think she is) and the boy is at an age at which if he doesn’t have a sibling soon, any future relationship would be a little tougher. And so, upon my return from Las Vegas this summer, the wife and I decided the good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, we were going to have another one.
Though it has never been part of a greater strategy, we tend to be lazy for long periods of time and then do everything at once. It might have something to do with our journalism and deadline backgrounds. Within 16 months in 1999 and 2000, we moved from Mississippi to South Carolina, took two new jobs, got married, bought a house, and moved to a new city again. Within the same period of time in 2004-2005, we had the boy, I quit my job, started this crazy new work life, and the wife quit her 16-year career to come to the house and raise the boy right. Since then, we haven’t done much else.
And so it came time to start doing stuff again. And we did. My friend Joe Speaker commented yesterday, “Your boys are the Michael Phelps of the sperm world.” I don’t take a compliment very well, but in this case, Speaker was right. If I were in the military, I would surely be assigned to sniper duty.
Sitting at dinner last night, I realized that everyone we know (and several people we don’t) already knew the wife had just finished her first trimester. Everybody except one person–the kid with the french fry grease on his cheeks.
I looked across the landscape of tortilla chips and salsa and said, “I think we should tell him tonight.” The wife agreed in an instant. We went out for chocolate raspberry truffle ice cream and then to the house where I pulled up the ultrasound pictures on my laptop. The boy thought it was an animal. He can’t be faulted.
Over the next few minutes, I struggled over the word uterus while my wife expertly navigated the boy’s concept of time. It took five or ten minutes, but we eventually convinced the kid that his mother was making a sibling for him.
“Did you make it while I was at school?” he asked. My wife and I looked at each other. Chances were better it happened while he was napping on a warm Friday afternoon, but there was no need to go into details.
The boy stood and literally scratched his chin while walking around the living room.
“I’m going to have to think about this for a minute,” he said.
It took about 30 seconds before he was bounding about the room shouting, “If it has a penis, it’s a boy! If it doesn’t have a penis, it’s a girl!”
He then went on to speak into the wife’s belly button and play a lullabye on his ukulele. All in all, a pretty good reaction from a kid who has been the center of attention for four years and still hadn’t washed the grease off his cheeks.
What we’ve done here is nothing special to the world at large, so I won’t belabor it too much. The non-breeders among the readers here tire quickly of such talk. That said, it’s pretty damned special to us and figures to be something cool for the one little guy in our life already. We know people who have tried for a very long time and weren’t as lucky as we were…twice. We never forget that.
As it looks like we’re getting off our asses again, who knows what comes next. I wouldn’t be surprised if we turn our world upside down again.
Frankly, that would be just fine with me.