Children: a gift that keeps on giving …
As far as I can remember, I’ve had only three live births. So imagine my shock when a smiling, stocky freshman of Chinese origin comes up to me at a track meet a few weeks ago, calls me “MOM,” and leans in for a warm hug.
My daughter introduces us. “This is your newest son,” she says. “I’ve adopted him for you for Mother’s Day.”
“You really put a lot of thought into Mother’s Day gifting, don’t you?”
Last year she gave me a coupon for a 10” flowering basket and hung around waiting for a hug and a hearty “thank you.”
“He plays the Bassoon, Flute, Saxophone, Piano, Trumpet and Violin, he’s a decent triple jumper and a very happy child,” she rattles off his fine attributes.
Okay, so he has potential. I scrutinize the boy. She’s right. He is a very happy individual. I’ve never seen anyone smile that much before.
I drag her off to a quiet corner. “Tell me, do you miss your older brother that much? He does come home for holidays and when he needs his cowl neck sweater laundered, you know.”
“Oh no, I don’t miss him at all,” she assures me. “You said you wanted to have four children and faulty plumbing ruined that plan, so here’s the next best thing.”
Right away I go into a panic. Damn, I’ve only just lightened my Mom-load by sending one child off to college to fend for himself. My days have been so carefully planned since last fall when college began—pack two lunches instead of three, do fewer loads of laundry, cook for four instead of five …
What am I going to with a replacement child? Where will I put him? I can’t see my youngest wanting to share a room that he has finally claimed for himself after fourteen years of having to share it with an older brother. Well, I reason, the kid is quite short. Maybe he’d fit in the crawl space in the basement. It would be a tight fit, but he’ll have his own bathroom and full, uninterrupted use of the gym, ping pong table and treadmill. Oh, double damn, what after school activities does he do? Will I have to chauffeur him all over town?
I take a deep breath and try to calm down.
“Okay, do we get to keep him for the weekends only or during the week as well? You have to tell me. I have to plan my days …”
“Mom, relax,” she says. “This is the best deal ever—he goes home to his real parents every day. But for all non-practical purposes, he’s your child.”
“To be clear,” I say. “I won’t have to pack him lunch, wash his clothes, kiss his boo-boos, chauffer him to all his activities or pay his IB Exit Exam fees?”
I return to my chair by the jumps pit and decide to share this news with my husband. It IS important that he be aware of this new situation in case the kid leans in for a hug from his new daddy. He just seems like the huggie sort.
“Oh, by the way, we have a new son,” I tell him and point to the newest member of our family.
He looks up from a hefty book on Data Mining and squints in the direction of our new son. “Can we claim him as a deduction on our tax forms?”
“I don’t think so,” I say.
“Then I’m not interested,” he says and promptly returns to his hefty book.
But our daughter has made it her mission to establish her sibling bond with the kid. She gives me frequent updates on things she thinks I ought to be aware of like his lousy self-esteem.
“His confidence is very low, especially when he loses,” she tells me.
“That can happen,” I say.
“Oh and he dropped a huge blob of Icy Hot on me that gave me a nose bleed that lasted ten minutes,” she says.
“How was his confidence after that?”
“Oh it seemed to recover. Have I told you how annoying he can be?”
“You picked him,” I remind her.
Most children see their mothers as symbols of unconditional love, forgiveness and understanding, I’m told. And most assuredly mothers must see their children as a gift that keeps on giving!