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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Raise Your Flags

Today is my third son's birthday. Son number three.

The heir, the spare, and the nobody cares.

I can never think of my three oldest sons without the image of the three sets of feet tapping along to the tune of the tv show My Three Sons.

Today he is eight years old.

I remember how I was convinced he was going to be a girl. There was no doubt in my mind at all. When they said "It's a boy!" I thought they were joking. All the nurses were mildly disturbed that I kept saying, "You're joking, right?"

I gave him my last name as his middle name. I had always thought I would pass it on to a daughter. After being in labor with my son I announced I was never doing that again and gave him the name.

I remember Rob bringing his two older brothers to the hospital to meet him. They were 29 months old and 15 months old.

I remember having three different sized diapers in my house. Those were the hardest days of my life.

I remember potty training my eldest son later on in the summer. Son number two potty trained himself shortly thereafter.

I remember what a sweet personality my third son had and how he never cried. In an effort to make up for lost time, he now whines more than I ever thought was humanly possible.

I remember thinking I had it all figured out. It would take two more sons after him to show me that what I had figured out was humility and a taste for my own words.

I remember my mother in law telling me I should tape his ears down to "train" them not to stick out. I said that at least if he wore glasses we knew they would be able to stay up. Thankfully his head grew into his ears. Now I'm hoping his head grows into his teeth.

I remember that the year he was born his birthday fell on the Saturday before Father's Day. I had hoped he was going to be born on Father's Day since the first two were born on "holidays" and Rob and I both have "holiday" birthdays.

I remember being disappointed until my father in law told me on the phone the next day that it was Flag day. Every year my father in law will tell me it is Flag Day, as if I somehow forget from year to year. This year on Flag day I won't be talking to him. He will be getting his chest cracked open and his heart removed from his body in an effort to unclog his two completely blocked arteries. I look forward to him reminding me again next year.

I remember my son's unbridled love for his pacifier, which lasted for four years.

I remember how when he was potty training he would cheer for himself when he went in the toilet.

I remember how he dropped his pacifier from his mouth into the toilet and screamed as it was flushed away. It happened often. And it never stopped being funny for the rest of us.

He is the quintessential happy go lucky child. He skips around the house and has a penchant for show tunes. Rob thinks he might be gay.

He loves to make up jokes or ask absurd questions in an effort to be funny. (For example: Is it called Minnesota because they sell mini-sodas there?) His laugh is so infectious that we all laugh in spite of ourselves. Or as my 10 year old will say, "I'm not laughing because it is funny. I'm laughing because it is so dumb I can't believe anyone would say that!" But he doesn't care why we laugh, just as long as we do.

The thing that strikes me the most about having a large family is that all our stories are intertwined. It is impossible to talk about one person without delving into a memory of someone else. I sometimes wonder if this is why I have very few memories of my childhood. As an only child there is no one to remember with. No one to say, 'remember when?' No one to help put snippets of memories into a broader context.

My third son was admiring his globe collection the other day and suddenly sighed. He told me he felt like Alexander the Great. And why was that? "Remember when he wept because there was nothing left to conquer? Well, I weep because I look at the globe at all the places I want to go and visit, and there are people already there. There is nowhere left to explore. People are everywhere. I hate that."

I know my son, I know. It's true that sometimes the apple doesn't even fall from the tree at all.

To my third son I say, Happy Birthday. And remember should son number one and his runner up fail to fulfill their duties, the kingdom is all yours. Try not to look so thrilled.

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Blogger Meg said...

Happy Birthday, #3! What a nice post!

8:50 AM  
Blogger TBG said...

Happy Birthday #3! Hope he has a great day...

9:01 AM  
Blogger aka_Meritt said...

Happy Birthday! I have three brothers and I have to say that boy #3 ended up being a golden child of sorts. :)

You never know what a number three can pull off!

9:16 AM  
Anonymous Wendy said...

I understand what you mean about memories from childhood. I only have two boys, but I hope by having each other they have more memories than I have.

My cousin and I were close as children. Not the same as a sibling, but still close. Anyway, she died at 18 yrs old and people would say, "You still have your memories." It was like they didn't understand that I didn't have my cousin to *share* the memories.

Anyway, not meaning to spoil this lovely, beautiful post! Happy Birthday #3!

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to him!

He looks so funny.

Hope he has a great day!

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny as in humorous...not funny weird.

Just felt the need to clarify.

9:47 AM  
Blogger kristal said...

Happy birthday!

9:54 AM  
Blogger susie said...

What a nice tribute to your third son. My third daughter is the exact opposite of your third son. May G-d grant me the patience to make it through until she is 8.


9:56 AM  
Blogger TBG said...

I just wanted to come back and say Happy Birthday again and that today is my husbands 33rd birthday! He was born on Flag Day too!

9:56 AM  
Blogger rugdesigner said...

Happy Birthday, son 3! What a sweet tribute to him! You are a wonderful writer, Chris!

10:02 AM  
Blogger dazeymae said...

what a precious post.
as child number three, i identify.
congrats to you mum, it's you that got him to 8....

10:18 AM  
Blogger Jody said...

Happy birthday young man!

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Chuck said...

We are about to have a whirlwind of Son #5,Daughter (1st bday), Son # 1 and Son # 2.

Lord forgive everyone who buys a toy that makes noise, (though I might not ever forgive em) and if my bank account holds up they might even get presents.

Aint it fun? But you write it better than I would.

12:24 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Happy Birthday! My #3 son enjoys show tunes, feather boas and dance shoes. Maybe it's #3's way of standing out? ;-) I hope his Flag Day is tremendous.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Indigo said...

Happy Birthday to #3, and what a great birthday message to give to him.

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Lizzie said...

Happy Birthday to the heir apparent...twice removed ;o)

2:17 PM  
Blogger Gretchen said...

Happy Birthday #3! I had a friend who was born on Flag Day, he always loved that everyone put their flags out for him ;-) My Dad's birthday is tomorrow, and he was disappointed to have missed the holiday until he realized that his birthday is on Magna Carta Day LOL

By the way, it's my #4 who likes to sing and play barbies; but he likes Ninja Turltes just as much, so I'm not worried :-)

2:50 PM  
Blogger eko said...

LOVELY post!
Happy Birthday to the third child ;-) I am the third daughter and third child of six - but not born on a holiday :-) My third brother is a most wonderful, dear and caring AND FUNNY young man too!

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Henri said...

Happy birthday, Mister "I'm 8 today !" :-)

3:13 PM  
Blogger lipstickface said...

I think its a Jewish Holiday today too. There are two transactions I needed to make out of NYC today and was basically told "tough luck" cuz its a Jewish Holiday.

Your son may have you all trumped by claiming two holidays at once!

5:28 PM  
Blogger Iselyahna said...

I got bored so I looked up Jewish holidays and believe it or not, your son *does* have a two-holiday birthday.

This is what I found - "Moses Receives The Torah (Pentecost) - Celebrating God's giving of the Torah and Ten Commandments to the Jews at Mt. Sinai. Memorial (Yizkor) services said (on 2nd day in diaspora)."

Your son's birthday is the second day of "Shavuot". I have absolutely no idea what that means. Just thought your son would think it was cool to have two holidays.


5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Chris!

Happy Birthday, #3! I have visited your site nearly every day since early October. I absolutely adore your writing & it seems like you have quite the fan base (to say the least); so many enjoy this incredible gift you possess! I just thought I would come out of lurkdom to tell you that. Thank you for sharing your life with us. Your sweet posts about each of your children are so touching and I never get tired of reading about them!

Thanks, Chris!


PS: I am the 2nd of 5 girls in my family. Sister #3 turned 17 today! Flag Day must be reserved for the third child. :-)

PPS: What are your children's names? I would be very interested to know, as I've always wondered!

6:37 PM  
Blogger Annalise said...

Hope he had a wonderful day :-)

11:50 PM  
Blogger Bernadette said...

He's a handsome lad with his mama's sense of humor! I enjoy how you get to the very essence of large family life in your wonderful posts!

1:33 AM  
Blogger halloweenlover said...

Happy birthday! What a cutie! And what a kingdom he has to which to look forward : )

2:59 PM  
Blogger Lammy said...

Hey...Don't forget that this day is also the birthday of the US ARMY. 230 th.
Anyway--- Happy b-day BOY#3!!
Thanks for the laughs....and for the reminder about how to appreciate those goofball boys!

5:58 PM  
Blogger susie said...

Old Testament holidays always fall on different days because their calendar is not the same as ours is today. The festival of Shavuot is during this time, but it is not always on this day, just like Hannukah and Passover are not always on the exact same day. The time period remains similar, though.

9:19 PM  
Blogger Sleeping Mommy said...

Happy Belated Birthday, #3.

My #3 also has an unbridled love for his paci, while my first two didn't take one. I wonder if it will last as long as your #3's did.

And mine too is every so sweet and happy. Sure hope I get to skip the whining you describe. The older two do enough for us all. ;)

3:52 PM  
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1:49 PM  
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8:17 PM  

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