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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Valentine

And Then There Were Three

Children learn more from what you are, than what you teach. - W. E. B. Du Bois

Do you ever have those moments in your life when you think you are on Candid Camera or in modern day vernacular being punked? It’s like really, I have to keep that plate spinning too. I was in this type of space when I got the wonderful news that I would be a mother for the third time. I call him my bonus baby — buy two, get one free. The year before his conception was pretty trying for the marriage. Sometimes the things you can tolerate or manage when you are a newlywed, start to get old when you are trying to keep up with life. When the new year turned over, I made up in my mind that I would restart and be accountable for my contributions to the marriage. That February, my husband was let go from his job…on Valentine’s Day. A few weeks later, I realized that I could be in the family way, based on the one New Year’s contribution to the marriage. Then there was that little Christmas gift of a foreclosure notice we’d received. My dear husband insisted that he was handling things. Evidently he was mistaken.

If you know my hubby, he is proud to a fault. Just any job would not do. March passed, April passed and he hadn’t secured a new job. He decided we should pick up (leave everything) and live with a friend of his in Connecticut. He and his wife (along with their two daughters) would let us live in their basement. At the time I had a 4 year old and an almost 2 year old. A family of 4+, living in a basement with no jobs? Those accommodations just didn’t sound like a wise decision to me. The hubby left convinced that the North would offer better opportunities. He would send money back. It was the last chapter in the marriage. (Just for the record, he did send some money in August when the house insurance was due.) During all of this excitement, my precious baby grew and developed with a great deal of cooperation.

Even when he was born, he was a patient baby. He probably knew how rambunctious his brothers were and decided whenever you are finished with them, I will be sitting right here. From day one, he has been a very considerate child. His birthday falls late so he went to private school for kindergarten and first grade. One day during recess he had an accident on the slide and hurt his arm. It was thought that someone pushed him off. No problem, go to the emergency room get the arm examined, get back to school the next day. He had to have surgery and pins inserted in his elbow. He was brave through the surgery and didn’t even cry when the pins were removed in the doctor’s office. One day while I was standing in the kitchen he asks me “Mom, have you ever told a lie?” You really have to be careful when you get these loaded questions.

Mom: “Yes, I have. I try to be truthful most the time, but I have told a lie.”

Son: “What did you do afterwards?

Mom: “I confessed the truth and asked the person to forgive me.”

I was really wondering where all of this was going. I could see the concern and shame on this little six-year old’s face.

Son: “Mom, I really jumped off of the slide.”

Mom: “Oh sweetie, that’s fine. I figured that might be a possibility and it’s alright. I am just glad you are okay.”

It was such a good lesson for both of us. The look of relief on his little face was priceless.

Well he is no longer a baby. He has grown to be a caring, compassionate, God-respecting man. He keeps a smile on your face with his zany sense of humor, patience and consideration. When the fellas are home, one thing I enjoy doing is watching Jeopardy. Everyone has their specialist categories. His are literature, animals, geography and the word puzzles. Even when he doesn’t know the answer, he gives an answer with lots of gusto and confidence. Since he has been away, I have purposely not watched my favorite show. It just reminds me that he is far away. When he was here for a visit, we went on a Jeopardy binge. Son: “Hey Mommy-O, do you want to watch Jeopardy?” Mom: “Yes darling, let’s watch an episode together.” In addition to watching the televised reruns, he pulled up old episodes from the 70’s and 80s and the show in different countries. Who knew Jeopardy came in so many versions? It’s clear to me that the circumstances he was born into could have been better. But much more importantly, our life would have been so incomplete without him. Happy birthday, Tot. I can’t wait to play our next round of Jeopardy together.

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