Slim, our resident Jedi and in-house encyclopedia of everything Clone Wars, is now a 7-year old.
It isn’t possible.
After all, it was only yesterday that the nurse walked with us out to the hospital parking lot and helped anchor our precious newborn cargo safely and securely in the back seat of our car, deftly manipulating a series of buckles and straps that would make a NASCAR driver’s racing harness seem simplistic in comparison.
Then she smiled, waved, and calmly walked away.
Kick Ass Wife and I smiled and waved in return, half expecting and fully hoping that the nurse would turn just as she reached the hospital entrance, point at us, laugh heartily, then walk back and tell us that the nursery staff had been pulling a little prank.
Got ya! We wouldn’t actually send you home with a human baby to care for only two days after he was born! You guys are welcome to stay for a couple more weeks until you get the hang of it.
But the nurse didn’t turn back. We sat and stared at each other silently, a look one-part excitement and two-parts sheer terror reflecting in one another’s eyes. Then our gaze shifted to the cooing bundle in the back dwarfed by the hulking car seat, and the reality of the situation hit us full force.
Holy shintenelli! That is OUR little boy back there! And they just sent him home with us! No instruction manual or anything!
Saucer-eyed and numb, I shifted the car into drive, and we slowly merged into the parents-with-a-child lane of life. “We” had officially become three.
And I do mean slowly. Fortunately, our house was only three blocks from the hospital because I drove home at a steady 10 miles per hour. I was terrified.
For God’s sake! Stop honking, you maniacs! Don’t you know there’s a baby in here?
Eventually, though, we made it home, and since there was no instructional DVD included, Slim was our parental learning curve. We didn’t know what the hell we were doing, but he didn’t know that. Every day offered an experience that was new to all three of us, and we did okay.
It was an amazing time.
The three of us would lie lazily on the floor, and we would talk to him and stare at him and laugh at the crazy faces and funny noises he made. Or the three of us would lounge lazily on the couch, and we would watch television or read or do nothing at all except have him with us.
Kick Ass Wife would often nurse him in bed, and I would lay beside them and rub his fuzzy little back while he nestled into her.
It wasn’t nearly as creepy as it sounds. Honest. It was beautiful.
And the one memory I’ll never forget is him curled up warm and soft on my chest, rising and falling gently as we napped in the afternoon sun streaming through the window.
For two years, Slim had our complete and undivided love and attention in a way that none of our other children could ever experience.
All of our time was his, and all of his time was ours.
He didn’t have to share, and we didn’t have to share.
He was spoiled, and we were spoiled.
As parents, that time with the first born is special in a way that cannot be replicated with subsequent children. Every birth is magical, for sure. Yet the absolute originality and newness of the first is more magical. It just is.
And unbelievably, inexplicably, Slim, our precious cargo from that day not so long ago, is a 7-year old boy.
But things have changed.
With three younger siblings, he’s had to learn to share in a major way, and more than just his clone troopers and his crayons. He has to share us. We have to share ourselves.
Sometimes I wonder if there’s something inside of him that’s resentful, something that goes back to when he was a baby, something that knows, that at one time, we were all his. Resentment would be understandable. We were his first.
And sometimes I wonder how I feel about it. What would today look like if it was still just the three of us? What types of amazing experiences could I have with that 7-year old boy? What could I give to him alone that I can’t possibly give to him and three others?
But then I see him training his young padawan, Tax Credit #4, in the ways of The Force, and I catch P Motion and Hellcat literally looking up to him, mimicking him, seeking his approval, and I realize that what the three of us gave up has been replaced by something of value: memories with brothers and a sister, moments with sons and a daughter.
The original three doubled to six, and that must be what was planned for us.
Slim has grown into an incredible boy. He is imaginative and smart. He is a jokester and a prankster. He is incredibly kind and he is deeply empathetic.
He is a terrific big brother, as patient as can be expected and loving.
He is an amazing son, often more patient than what is deserved and forgiving.
Truly, I look up to him, too.
A 7-year old boy.
Our first born.
Happy birthday, Slim.