Dinner date

Dear number two child,

Thank you so much for coming out to dinner with me tonight. I wanted to have some time alone with you, over a good plate of food, just to reconnect.  Lately, I have been feeling sort of cut off from your life. I feel like my energy and my attention have been siphoned off not only by your siblings, but also by the rest of my demanding world.  Last week, late at night, as I was drifting off to sleep, I realized that I really couldn’t remember my last one-on-one conversation with you.

As scary as that realization was, it wasn’t anything new for us.  You were the baby who was born after so much worry and strife that I didn’t put you down at all for the first six weeks. I remember my friends commenting, as we met for coffee, “You know, he’ll be OK if you put him in the crib for a bit.”  But my response was immediate and intense: I didn’t go through two and a half years of infertility treatments just to put my baby in a crib!  I held you, I rocked you, I gazed at you in wonder.  You were the center of my universe until, at the ripe old age of 7 months, I was forced to wean you abruptly to focus on the new “baby on the way”.

After number three was born, I tried my best to give you the focus and attention that I knew you needed, but you were the sturdy little boy between your big sister and your tiny baby brother. I loved you beyond words, but I didn’t have the extra arms to hold you.  I felt you drifting away, before your second birthday, and I felt my heart break.

And so began our week end breakfast dates.  You and I would wake up on Saturday mornings and head off to Stop and Shop for the weekly grocery run.  You would choose a big dill pickle from the jar (unlike your siblings who always chose a muffin or a cookie as their grocery store treat), and you’d sit in the carriage seat, making eye squinting facial contortions as you sucked on the sour delight.  I would load us up with a week’s worth of supplies.   Then we would head off to Burger King for breakfast.

I clearly remember sitting across from you at the red plastic table, listening to you chat as you ate your pancakes.  You were never as talkative as the other kids, and so I knew that it was important to ask you just the right questions to get you to open up.   I remember the feeling of joy and love that I felt as I saw your big green eyes light up and your sweet grin break out.  I remember the taste of the burnt coffee and the smell of greasy food and too many little kids in a small space.   I remember finishing our meal and bundling you into your dark blue denim winter coat.  I remember kissing your cheek and tasting maple syrup.

So thank you, my handsome, confident adult son.  Thank-you for sharing a meal, and for sharing your gleaming green eyes, and your still sweet smile.  I still love you as much as I did when I first looked at your face, as much as I did when I handed you a big sour pickle and watched you shudder in delight.

You’re still my baby boy; you’re still my handsome son.  You’re still someone I thoroughly and sincerely love to chat with over a good meal.

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