When our grandson Charlie came along in late 2009, he was the first boy born into our family in more than 50 years. Granted, we have a smallish family, but two daughters, followed by two granddaughters, entrenched us forever into the world of Barbies and BFFs. So you might empathize with our recent discovery that boys are a whole different animal.
Now newborn boys and girls are pretty much interchangeable except for some, um, plumbing differences. But once Charlie gained mobility, we detected perceptible dissimilarities from his girl cousins, Gracie and Emily. He walked sooner; he talked later. He climbed EVERYTHING.
Rewind three short years ago to granddaughter Gracie’s reaction when her parents brought newborn Emily home. Although Gracie was captivated by the novelty of her new sister at the hospital, introducing Emily into Gracie’s world was another matter. At 22 months, Gracie now shared her parents with a sibling. So when Mommy and Daddy came home for the first time with Emily and placed her on the couch, Gracie reacted by promptly covering her baby sister with a blanket. Totally covered her. As in making that baby disappear!
“Well! That should take care of THAT!” we could almost hear her thinking.
So when Charlie became a big brother to baby Cal two months ago, we all waited at the edge of our seat for the fireworks.
Well, we needn’t have worried. Charlie, seeing his mom entering the house with his swaddled brother, smiled at her radiantly, and then went back to doing whatever he was doing. We all looked at one another, shrugging uncertainly, but Charlie was completely unfazed. Although when I held his brother for the first time Charlie strongly objected, probably because I’m the “Mimi” and fair game to work puzzles and play trains when I come to visit. Holding a baby wasn’t on the program, but soon Charlie was fine with my holding his “baby bruvver” too.
We thought my younger daughter and her hubby had dodged a major bullet in this “bringing baby home” business, and in many ways they did. Except for a few interesting developments that followed ...
It could’ve been entirely coincidental or it could’ve been Charlie’s need to claim his own individuality, separate from his infant brother, because the easygoing 2-year-old began displaying a certain, well, “independence.”
No longer did Charlie want a nap. Nope. The youngster who called “night-night” with a cheery wave of his little hand was having none of it. But this, friends was minor. It was the Night of the Nocturnal Wanderer that finally fractured the idea that Charlie had become a big brother without the drama.
Now picture this. You’re upstairs in your bed. It’s the middle of the night and you’re sound asleep. And so, you assume, is the rest of the household when out of the blue your home alarm system goes off. The BIG alarm system, guaranteed to resurrect the dead.
My son-in-law jumped out of his cozy bed, adrenaline pumping crazily through his sleep-dazed brain. Flying out of the bedroom and down the stairs, he noticed something horrendously wrong. Charlie was missing from his bedroom. But the gate into Charlie’s room was still closed and fastened – as was the large gate at the top of the tall main stairway that makes a graceful sweep to the stone-tiled floor below.
Son-in-law moved swiftly through the darkened house, no Charlie in sight, alarm sounding at approximate decibel levels of 747s taking off from the roof. My daughter upstairs, frozen in fright, imagining unearthly things going on downstairs.
Throwing open a downstairs door, son-in-law finds my grandson, Charlie, wandering around in the dark garage in his little boy jammies. Seemingly unfazed about encountering his upset father in the middle of the night with what was undoubtedly a crazed look on his daddy’s face.
Easygoing Charlie, age 2-1/2, who scaled two gates and unlocked the garage door, setting off deafening alarms in the dead of night.
Those folks who tell you raising a boy is just like raising a girl? Sure; it’s all about staying one jump ahead of them. And that, my friends, is where the similarities stop.
Gale Hammond is a writer and freelance photographer who has lived in Morgan Hill 24 years. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.