S: When Brian Was a Little Boy
BC: With much love to BB and Rebecca as you begin your own journey as parents!
FC: When Brian Was a Little Boy by his Mommie
1: When Brian was born on a sunny Sunday morning in April, we burst out laughing. The use of ultrasound to discover gender was not yet routine, and though we had seen his little face on the one ultrasound we’d had, I did not know if I was carrying a “he” or a “she.” “A boy?! What in the world will I do with a boy?” I laughed. “I only know how to take care of girls!” His dad laughed too and said, “It’s not so hard – I’ll teach you how! They’re easier to clean up during a diaper change . . . you just lift all this up and wipe ‘em off!”
2: Brian brought a lot of joy to our lives, with his sweet smiles and cheerful disposition, and from my earliest recollections, he never lacked for confidence. He was well loved by his big sisters, who delighted in dressing him up in all kinds of outfits, or sometimes, no outfit at all!
4: He’s been inquisitive from the get-go, leading him to a love of learning. His first sentence was, “How this works?” and he’s been asking that ever since. | "How this works?"
6: But he was definitely different than his sisters! Our daughter, Heather, learned this early on as she stood by the changing table as I began to change her brother’s diaper. Her little face was snuggled in close by his face, while she held onto his fingers and talked to him to distract him while I changed him. As soon as the dirty diaper was removed and he was exposed to the cool air, he starting peeing a steady stream straight up into the air – something that had never happened in all my girlie-diaper changing days with his sisters. Without thinking I put my hand up to deflect the pee so that it wouldn’t go all over me. Shaking her head sadly, Heather said with deep sympathy in her voice, “POOR Mommie!!” Brian just chuckled and kicked his legs.
8: I always sang to my babies as I rocked them and nursed them at naptime and bedtime, and there was frequently music playing in our house and family songs sung in the car as we were on the road (affectionately called car-tunes). His dad is a tenor and I’m an alto, so we loved to harmonize as we sang together, and perhaps this is one reason while Brian loves music – he was bathed in it even before he was born. One favorite song that I used as a lullaby with Brian was a little chorus that went, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus – there’s just something about that name . . .” Years later, when Brian was a young adult, I mentioned this to him and he said, “So THAT’S why whenever I hear that song in church I start to yawn, my eyes get heavy, and I get irresistibly sleepy!”
10: Boys ARE different than girls! | Brian was different from his sisters in other ways as well. For instance, he had a very different approach to playing with the same toys his sisters had enjoyed when they were younger. We had the classic Fisher-Price bus that had five little holes in the body of the bus where you could put 5 little Fisher-Price peg-people. Kristy and Heather had always made up little stories as they played with the bus,: “Here’s the Daddy and here’s the Mommie (putting the little peg-people into the holes in the front seat), and here’s the big sister and the little sister (putting them in one of the back seats) and here’s the little baby, ‘Waa! Waa!’ Oh, that’s okay little baby, we’re just going for a ride to the store.” And then they’d push the bus all around the floor, continuing to tell about where the family was going and what they were doing and saying. The first time I brought out this little bus for Brian to play with, I waited to enjoy him reenacting this scenario, wanting to see him learn this little tradition.
11: He watched as his sisters patiently put all the little peg-people into their places on the bus and began their little story and then they let Brian begin to push it around. Brian pushed the bus with one hand as he crawled along beside it for a couple of feet, then he made this guttural motor-noise, “Uhrummmmm, uhrummmm!” and with one hard push of his hand, he propelled the bus toward the wall, where it crashed and the little peg-family went flying in all directions, to Brian’s glee and delight! Laughing enthusiastically, he crawled over to pick up all the pieces, put the peg-people back in the bus and rammed it into the wall again. He was very entertained. I was a little horrified and wondered what I had done wrong as a mother.
12: As I said before, Brian has never lacked for confidence, at least, not outwardly. When he was three years old, he went to Cupertino Co-op Nursery School, as his sisters had before him. He finally was a “big boy” who got to be in “Teacher Jean’s” class, and Kristy and Heather told him all about what to expect: the trikes, the Big Toy climbing structure, circle time, the easels set up for painting, the dress up room. We sent him off for his first day, eager to hear what he thought about it. When he came home at the end of the morning, I asked him, “So, what did you think of Teacher Jean?” Without a pause, he looked up with a smile and threw his little hands in the air and said, “She LOVES me!” So, I guess it IS all about him. But to this day, whether we are talking about teachers in elementary school or college or a new employer, the refrain is the same, “They really like me!” They did, and they do. | When Brian was three years old, he and his Mommie went to Nursery School
14: Brian's confidence was displayed in all kinds of ways: always wanting to be the strongest, climb the highest, swing the highest, be the winning-est . . . he is a rock star! | "I can do it mine-self!"
16: Brian goes through life collecting things: friends, favorite clothes, memories, music, traditions. And he hangs onto those things, even when they are broken beyond repair - like his guitar, named "The Jewel." Yes, he also names things that are important to him. He loved to collect all kinds of things and sort them into different little drawers, labeled: rocks, stamps, baseball cards, marbles. Rocks? He especially liked to collect money. Each week, our kids got 8 poker chips and they could redeem them to “buy” TV-watching time: each poker chip was worth half an hour of TV. They could use them any time over the course of the week, all at once for a 4-hour TV-watching marathon, or parceled out over the week. At the end of the week, if they had any chips left, they could cash them in for a quarter each. Brian always seemed to be able to reserve some of his poker chips so that he’d get extra money at the end of the week, which he would put in an empty jar with a lid on it, then he’d hide it in his closet. Consequently, whenever Kristy and Heather needed some extra cash, they’d go rooting around in Brian’s closet to “borrow” some from him. More than once, he’d come out of his room shouting (because he couldn’t say his “Rs” clearly until he was 6 or 7), “Who took some of my quo-toos?”
18: He’s always had a strong sense of right and wrong, and stands up for the underdog. It’s a family tradition we all share, so it must be inherited. One day, Brian was in the kids’ bathroom for a long time, and when I went in later to get something, I saw that he had taken all his green plastic army men – just like the ones in Toy Story – and he had lined them up on the back of the toilet in two groups facing each other, with their guns pointed at one another. Looking more closely, I saw that there were two little scraps of paper, one behind each group, and in childish scrawl they were labeled, “GOOD” and BAD.” We're glad he knows the difference! He’s always been very perceptive and not afraid to state his opinions and conclusions about issues and people!
20: Tradition! One trait that has persisted throughout the years is that Brian does not like change, at least he doesn’t like change that he doesn’t control. | He’s especially fond of family traditions, favorite foods, and familiar possessions. He loved going to Mount Hermon for Family Camp each summer, Easter egg hunts with his cousins, dressing up for Halloween and eating Mommie’s Mac and Cheese whenever given the opportunity. | As a little boy, he loved his little bear, Butterscotch, and as an adult, he took butterscotch with him to France and later, to Australia.
22: He particularly loved all the family traditions surrounding Christmas. For example, each year in early December, our family would drive up to the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Loma Prieta Tree Farm to choose and cut down our Christmas tree. There was always a lot of discussion and negotiation about which tree was the perfect one, and I think that Brian sometimes felt a little cheated because, as the youngest, he was often out-voted on the selection. But not one to hold a grudge, once the choice was made and we tied the tree on top of the VW bus and brought it home, he became firmly devoted to the Christmas tree, almost as though a long-lost member of the family had moved in with us. | Christmas!!
24: As the Christmas season progressed, he delighted in the series of red and green Christmas envelopes that I prepared for the kids to open each day, taking turns with his sisters, that told what the Christmas event of the day would be: “Collect coats from the neighbors and take them to the Rescue Mission to give to people who don’t have a coat,” or perhaps, “Go visit Santa at the mall” or the ever-popular (and easy for Mom) “Drink hot chocolate from a Santa mug and stir it with a candy cane.” The kids had to have their beds made and be dressed for school before they could open the envelope, and I think that December was the only month of the year that Brian willingly performed these daily routines without prompting. He’s a practical kind of guy.
26: We also HAD to watch (and still do) the movie, “A Christmas Story” on Christmas Eve - “You’ll shoot your eye out!” – eating Mommie’s Mac and Cheese for dinner, before acting out the true Christmas story, in which Brian was usually the Baby Jesus, swaddled in a blanket and lying in a laundry basket. Then it was off to bed, with jingle bells tied on the door handles so that no one could sneak in and see their presents early. After an endless night of anticipation, finally would come all the excitement of Christmas morning. Everyone had to stay in bed until the sun came up, a mysterious family tradition that really originated from the fact that in the Northern Hemisphere on Christmas Day, the sun comes up later than it does at almost any other time of the year, giving weary parents a little extra sleep after staying up late the night before.
28: When the sun finally made its appearance, Mom and Dad were rousted out of bed by excited children, and we all raced into the family room where Brian looked around to make sure that Santa had not forgotten to leave the big barrel of Red Vines licorice for him. He was never disappointed. | After all the presents were opened and Christmas brunch with grandparents and friends had wound to a close, we would invariably notice that Brian wasn’t around. We’d look in his room and there he’d be lying on his bed, groaning with an upset stomach after eating most of the barrel of Red Vines in the space of 3 or 4 hours. Some traditions may cause pain, but he just couldn’t seem to give them up! | When Christmas was over, and the kids went back to school, and the tree began to dry up and lose its needles all over the floor, then began the clandestine efforts – while everyone was at school – to remove the ornaments from the tree and take it outside for the garbage men to haul away, pack up all the Christmas decorations for another year and return the house to its pre-Christmas state.
29: I didn’t realize how attached Brian had become to our Christmas tree until he stormed indignantly into the house after school and demanded to know, “Why is Mr. Greenie out at the curb? Poor Mr. Greenie – he’ll be so lonely.” Whoops.. Christmas trees aren’t the only things that Brian has formed attachments to – he’s always been a true and long-lasting friend to his buddies – he is still in regular communication with his friends from elementary school, and he deeply cares about others. He’s also shown an attachment for wearing shorts but not jackets when it’s cold outside, but what’s mother to do?
30: We are proud of the man that Brian has become, in so many ways, and so happy that he has found a good woman to love and be loved by her in return. Of course, we are delighted to see him preparing to be a father, and have no doubt he will be a good one. However. . . Rebecca, I feel obligated to tell you one final story about Brian. When he was about 4 years old, he was playing with his friend Ryan from nursery school, whose parents were going through a divorce. They didn’t know that I was listening at the open door: . | Brian: Someday, when I grow up I'm going to get married. Ryan: I’m never going to get married. I don’t want to. Brian: But if you don’t get married, then how are you going to have all those good kids? Ryan: I don’t know. . . Brian: (Thinking quietly, then brightening with an idea) I know! You can get married and have kids, then you can kill your wife and keep the kids for yourself!
31: Just sayin' . . . you've been warned.