Almost everyone knows the story of our youngest child by now. I made sure of that.
How he was planned. How he wasn’t an accident. How you asked for him. How you told me you felt like “someone was missing from our family.” How you felt there was “another soul out there we needed – who was intended to complete us.” How I relented and we had our fifth child. How I’ve never quite caught my breath since.
But there’s more to his story. In honor of his 21st birthday and now that he’s officially an adult, it’s probably okay to share it. Statute of limitations and such.
I conceived right away. Maybe because my body was in practice? But I tried to hold you off on finding out for certain. Impossible. After the pregnancy was confirmed on Thanksgiving Day, we agreed not to tell anyone until I was further along.
You waited two full hours and told everyone at Thanksgiving dinner. I was further along I guess.
People often assume parents get blasé after they’ve had as many kids as we had. But a lot of the time parents are actually even MORE excited about subsequent pregnancies because they know the joy they’re in for. It was not our first rodeo and we were rodeo enthusiasts.
What’s more, he was our first child considerate enough to be born right on his due date. I’m not saying I love him the most because of that, but he and I certainly got off to a great start.
The red hair was the literal cherry on top.
We named him John. And Thomas. And called him Tommy. After my dad, my uncle and my great-grandfather. Infusing strength through legacy. Suspecting he would need it.
And boy did he.
Especially after the stunt we pulled next…it was bold, it was wild, and it was largely unprecedented. But I do not think it was illegal. Our friends and family gasped in shock. Unless they had just taken a sip of a beverage and then they just spewed their drink across the room.
Here’s an example of the level of pragmatism that veteran parents of 5 are capable of exhibiting:
In 2000, the year Tommy was born, there was a new restaurant chain opening up in Phoenix called Pei-Wei. A spin off of the popular PF Chang’s. We happened to meet the President of the company, who invited us to the VIP opening – which was to be the day after my due date. I assured him we would most likely attend, as I had yet to ever give birth on or before my due date.
The morning after Tommy was born, you and I were sitting in my hospital room gazing lovingly at our latest creation, when you reminded me about the new Asian bistro that was opening that day.
“Too bad we can’t go…” I wistfully mused.
“Who says we can’t?” You responded. “Hear me out…”
That’s when you explained that our little Tommy was the “safest he was ever going to be in his entire life” at that very moment in that hospital surrounded by all the doctors and nurses. “Baby professionals” I believe is how you referred to these individuals.
(Mildly offensive, as I fancied myself a “Baby Professional”)
“It’s all down hill for him from here!” you went on to enthusiastically explain. “Once we take him home, his life will literally be in danger every day. He’s safest here in the hospital. Let’s go grab some lunch!”
I must’ve looked dubious, because in one final push for a free lunch you added, “It’s cool – we’re cool, he’s cool!”
I knew you were cool, and obviously this was one cool little newborn, but I wasn’t sure I was quite THAT cool…
But I was starving. And, I couldn’t think of the last time I had eaten an entire meal in peace. And hospital food didn’t count.
So we went. Yes we did.
We discharged me from Chandler Regional Hospital, drove down the street to the opening of the Pei Wei Asian Bistro for lunch. We dined on lettuce wraps, Dan-Dan Noodles and Orange Chicken. Scrumptious. Then we hobb-nobbed a little.
After the party, we drove back to the hospital, matched my plastic hospital bracelet to the baby’s ankle bracelet, discharged our baby and took him home.
Everything was cool. Everyone was cool.
I met that baby for cocktails and birthday dinner the other night. I quipped that it was his first sip of alcohol ever. Pretty positive that was not the case, but he was sweet enough to play along.
He made our dinner reservations. For 5:30. (Obviously he had a full evening planned with friends and was squeezing me in early.) Nonetheless, I mismanaged my time and came skidding up to the valet on two wheels, per the usual. I’m sorta known for that.
I ran into the bar where he was waiting patiently for me. He’d already ordered his first cocktail. They’d already carded him.
“I’m sorry I’m late!” I said when I arrived at 5:45, armed with a litany of really excellent excuses.
“We’re cool!” our baby boy replied calmly taking a sip of God-knows-what.
I took a sip of my drink when they brought it, suddenly reminded of that day 21 years ago when we picked him up a little late from the hospital and how not much has changed except you aren’t here. But still…it’s cool.
He’s not holding anything against me. I know we’re cool.