Wednesday, December 24, 2008

First News of the Fatman... direct

We were all riding in the Chrysler the night Mom & Dan announced that Paul was in the works. I was about 13, John was 10. Dad must was about 36, Mom must have been 33. (Math isn't my strong suit.)


It's early evening, we're driving to a restaurant, Mike's Pizza in Van Nuys. It's raining outside.

John and I are in the back seat messing around, paying no attention to the world outside the car. The sound of wet streets and wipers on the windshield. I touch the convertible top with my fingertips and wonder at the damp cold telegraphed through the canvas by the storm outside.

"Kids we've got something to tell you....we're going to have a new baby."

"Oh No!" I moaned.

"All right!" John shouted.

I instantly understand that nothing would be the same again.

I'm stunned for a long moment by the shocking knowledge that my mom and dad must be sexually active.



We were going to have a new brother or sister. I know Mom was hoping for a sister.

For me, a miserable adolescent on the verge of having to go out there into the world and still scared of everything, everything, it was like being hit in the belly. All the predictability was knocked out of the family. This new sibling would irrevocably upset the balance of kid power. I'd be out of the nest before it could be restored.

I resented any hit on my #1 son status. I was thirteen and the world revolved around me! But I could hear footsteps, see dimly ahead to a time when I'd have to leave and start a life of my own. My last years on top of the heap wouldn't be the same. This new information was a Copernican heresy. "Huh? Oh no! The sun and the stars don't revolve around me?

I didn't spare a moment to think about the effect a new baby would have on Dad. A quick calculation puts him at about the age Erin came along for Jan and I, before Kyle's time. Not so damn old, but then I didn't have a 10 and a 13 year old at the time, nor was I glimpsing the possibility of a life beyond children.

Before I knew it the little chicken necked red squawker was taking up a room of his own.

We'd set him up in his car seat on the big maple table. He'd kick his chubby legs and scream if any of us looked at him too long.

You couldn't talk to the fat man direct.


Years later Dad said our reactions on that first night were the opposite of what he''d anticipated. I'm still kicking myself for not grilling him on that one. I've always wondered why. What had he anticipated and why?

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