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The Bundle of Boy MAG
The first boy I ever loved was by accident. I had set out with every desire to despise the interloper, the new creature who surely had come into my life with the intent to destroy it. I shuddered and sobbed at the news of his imminent arrival. A new baby? You have got to be kidding me!
I had been satisfied with two sisters. A mom, a dad, and three children worked fine. Five was a perfect number: prime, the number of fingers on one hand, half my age, the grade I was in. A sixth member was uncalled for, bordering on evil.
As the eldest, it was my duty to look out for the clan, and at ten years old I had enough responsibility already. I had little tolerance for change in my life. For Pete’s sake, I had eaten the same sandwich – toasted mozzarella with mayonnaise on challah, lukewarm by the time I opened my lunch box – every day for the last three years. A new addition to the family would call for drastic alterations in the daily pattern I was accustomed to.
My father broke the news. It was the night before I started fifth grade. Wakeful with anticipation, I tossed and turned in bed. On the top bunk in the room I shared with my sister, who slept soundly, I heard the words least likely to ease me through the anxious hours of darkness.
“Mommy’s going to have a baby!” My father beamed, elation seeping through his smile and curling in the corners of his words.
“No, she’s not,” was my morose reply.
I proceeded to blubber; my father was taken aback. His shock was apparent as he, deflated and irritated, bitterly attempted to placate me. I would not be soothed. After crying myself to sleep, I awoke to the beautiful idea that it had all been a dream. At the breakfast table, my parents’ blissful grins erased my hope that my family was not expanding. But if I could not alter the present circumstances, I could at least pretend they did not exist. I headed off to school crestfallen, but denial soon set in, lifting my spirits.
The next months were difficult. My sisters had been told and were delighted; the baby became a frequent topic of discussion. My glowing parents informed our nearest and dearest of the pregnancy. Ignoring any mention of it, I would flee the room at the sound of words like “fetal,” “motherhood,” and “womb.” When asked if I was excited about the new baby, I would grimace and turn away. At recess, friends cornered me on the jungle gym with enthusiastic cries of “You’re so lucky!” and “I wish my mom would have a baby!” Forcing a smile, I nodded in feigned agreement.
When the ultrasound pictures were brought home, I hit rock bottom. It was a boy. I locked myself in my room and sobbed. A boy? What were we supposed to do with that? Bad enough that there would be another kid to sap my parents’ time, energy, and love, but it had to be a boy? Nothing could have been worse. I fumed, stormed, and shouted. When the alien photos were hung on the refrigerator, I snatched them and hid them in a cereal box. I could not bear to be reminded. Perhaps this seems stubborn, even irrational, but my world was on the verge of being turned upside down because of this dubious bundle of joy.
By the third trimester I had sunk into depression. I tried my best to avoid thoughts of the baby, though my mother’s protruding tummy was a flashing red light shouting “I’m here! I exist!” Constant discussions about due dates and the color blue threatened to drive me mad. At this point I could do nothing to change the awful facts. My mother was going to have a baby. And it was going to be a boy.
William was born a few weeks premature. That first day I was loath to visit the hospital; I almost refused to hold him when it was my turn. I reluctantly agreed to take him in my arms … and he sneezed.
Just like that, a love affair was born. I realized the tiny infant nestled on my shoulder in the curve of my neck was my brother. And he was perfect.