Mike Cope's blog

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Chris's early life was pretty unpredictable because of Megan's health condition. It meant he sometimes got dropped off with people in the middle of the night as we headed back to pediatric ICU. It also meant lots of visits from Pa-Pa and Grandma -- visits which also meant that Mommy (and Daddy) wouldn't be around for a while. My mom, formerly editor of the Neosho Daily News, has for years written a weekly Bombeck-esque column for the paper. This is a classic from 1996. (Hey, it's my blog. You tell your own family stories!) As my older one approaches his wedding date and my younger one nears his "graduation" from elementary school, this brings back lots of memories. "Have you told Chris that Grandma is coming?" I asked my oldest two days before my long-planned trip to Texas. This was a legitimate question. The three-year-old likes Grandma okay, especially after I've been around a couple of days - but he learned early on what my arrival means. It means Mommy and [Daddy] are leaving. And true to history, when I was to come this time was the signal for them to leave for a few days. From the time he was born, there were many fast trips to Texas. Actually, the very first trip was not to care for him, but for the other two, when he was only three days old and had to return to the hospital for two weeks for treatment of a strep infection he had picked up in the hospital nursery. After that, however, Mom and Dad were often in and out of the hospital with his sister. The little guy would wake up in the morning and there would be - Grandma! One time, a call came to Missouri and I replied, "I'm on my way." At 10 p.m. I got off the plane and there he was- the little one - in the arms of the neighbor. I took him, got instructions for his current meds and took him home. Did I mention he was still nursing at the time? I set him up on the counter and said, "Okay, Babe, what do you want to eat?" I think the unspoken answer was "Nothing!" The next day we made a fast trip to Fort Worth to visit the parents at the children's hospital, so he could figure out where Mama was. His older brother has never had this reaction when I came. As the oldest grandchild he has always been anxious to come see Papa and Grandma, have us visit and talk ad infinitum on the phone. Even now as a teen-ager he was very gracious about having a grandma take him to school and even pick him up from the school party, attend his ball games and cheer him on in track. As for the preparation for my most recent arrival, my son said they would discuss it with the little guy. He told me they were going to say, "Chris-man, have you noticed only two suitcases are being packed?" So, here's how that visit went. I arrived Thursday. Chris was glad to see me and showed me his room. Friday, when the two suitcases came out, he smelled a rat and he didn't let Mom out of his sight. Saturday we took Mom and Dad to the airport. He spent most of the rest of the day in his room, ducking into the closet when I came in to check on him. Sunday morning he chose a seat in church on the other side of his big brother, who said, "He never sits by me." I told him we had at least established the pecking order. Big brother rated below Mom but above Grandma. Monday he tried to convince me he had seen Mama's airplane come back. ("It's the same color.") We needed to go to the airport. That night he slipped into big brother's bed - previously a big "no-no" but allowed that night. I must have done something right. They're bonding. One time when they thought I wasn't looking, the big brother even put toothpaste on the little guy's brush. I have to admit I never did get the shoes on right like, I was told, Mommy does it - putting high tops on with the laces already tied. We compromised, however. He wore cowboy boots with his shorts. On our four-day stay together the little guy and I, carrying the bag with juice, animal crackers and cheese sticks, went to two baseball practices, two track meets, one baseball game and one baseball pitching lesson. Then Mom and Dad came home, Dad bone-weary from completing the Boston Marathon in a respectable time. That last night I slept in the guest bed, big brother went to sleep to the bass guitar sounds of country music (This is West Texas, for goodness sakes) and the little guy nestled into his favorite spot - on the big bed between Mom and Dad.

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