Today my baby started high school. And it made me feel old. It also makes me wonder how this day in our lives got here so fast.
Now that’s a sure sign of old age, right?
I’m talking about my “Law School Baby,” the one who was a complete surprise (nobody plans a pregnancy in the middle of law school — trust me on that). He is known affectionately as “The Boo” to this day — but not in front of his friends, of course. It began as a sweet little nickname, “BooBoo,” when I was pregnant. I had amniocentesis with him because of some family medical history. I still remember the day the nurse called with the results. She informed me that all tests came out normal and the baby was fine. And then she asked me if I wanted to know the sex. I remember telling her, “You bet I do. I have a 4 year old boy, and my sister has two boys. We’re swimming in blue jeans and overalls here . . . tell me if I need to start shopping for pink!” She laughed and assured me there would be no need for that! That was very good news indeed, given that I was about to begin my third year of law school and was working 2 part-time jobs regularly, in addition to keeping up with #1 son and my studies. During school breaks, I worked 3 jobs, taking Accountemps assignments on weekdays. Matthew was born two weeks before finals — on Saturday morning. But I was in class that Monday night. And yes, I was the only woman in the maternity ward with a Constitutional Law textbook. I studied between contractions. The nurse who tried to take that book away from me is probably still relating the story of that crazy law student she once cared for . . . BigBob swears he thought my head was going to spin around a la Linda Blair in “The Exorcist,” but he always exaggerates . . .
Anyway . . . I remember calling my father, who was hospitalized at the time and needed a little cheering up, when I got the results. He had been hoping that this last grandchild might be a girl. Papa lived for his three boys — no question about that — but did wish for a demure little girl who would crawl up into his lap and sit quietly while he rocked her. The boys adored Papa and frequently ran into the house looking for him as they clutched a toy that needed the healing touch of our family “Mr. Fix-It,” asking desperately, “Papa, can you fix it?” (I still have a few of those toys tucked away in a drawer. I’ve saved them over the years because they bear traces of that magical white epoxy he kept in the garage and remind me of how he always managed to somehow put them back in working order. Sometimes he’d tell them, “Well, you have to leave it here and I’ll work on it.” Then he would be like a man on a mission, tinkering out in the garage until he found just the right solution. He delighted in coming to my house or my sister’s and surprising one of the boys — who by then had most likely forgotten all about the toy — with his handiwork.) Anyway, that day I told him, “Ah, Dad, I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that the baby is just fine. But the bad news is this: Your last hope for a granddaughter just went up in smoke!” He laughed and assured me that he would be just as happy with another healthy grandson. And he was, at least for the all-too-brief time he remained with us after Matthew was born.
Knowing that a boy was en route, we got out the baby name book and started searching for something that would go with “Siess.” Not easy! When pregnant with #1 son, I thought it would be lovely, if the baby was a girl, to name her after my grandmother — Anna Serine. A beautiful Norwegian name. “Anna” is timeless, of course, and sounded just fine with “Siess.” Then we read the section in the name book cautioning parents to double-check the initials before picking out a name. Uh oh. Anna would be “A.S.S.” So we had to scrap that idea. And, as it turned out, we had no need for female names, anyway.
So we tried out lots of options and nothing sounded good until we worked our way through the alphabet to “M.” As I was reading possible names, #1 son announced his choice: “Mama, I like the name ‘Matthew.’ Can we name my baby brother that?” I checked out the meaning of the name — “Gift from God.” Given the circumstances, nothing was more appropriate. And it passed the initial test when we threw in “Joseph” in the middle to honor my mother whose middle name was Josephine. So “Matthew” it was — and is. Of course, my oldest nephew somehow turned it into “Mattie” and then “Mattie-Boo” and, eventually, it just segued into “Boo” or “The Boo.”
And he truly is my gift from God. Life without him would be unimaginable. The plan was for #1 son to be an only child, but BigBob summed it up perfectly upon learning that The Boo was on the way: “Well, God had a better idea.”
He certainly did.
The Boo is now about 6′ tall and weighs around 140 pounds. So that means that he is a long, lean basketball-playing, bean burrito-eating machine. This morning he was very much “Matt,” as his friends call him, as he uncurled those long, long legs and exited the car to begin this new chapter of his life. He looked so grown up as he strode toward his classroom in his uniform with his backpack slung over his shoulder. But I know from my experience with his older brother that he will look even more adult when we watch him collect his diploma with the Class of 2010.