On being the fourth . . .

Andy is a typical fourth child.  With the older boys, Mike and I fretted over first foods, sugar, television, growth charts, and all the rest.  By the time we had Andy, we were worn out and had come to realize that, for the most part, none of it matters in the long run if you’re involved and mostly conscious, it all works out.  
A young mom I know recently asked me how I potty trained Andy.  After some serious thought, I told her, quite honestly, I had no clue.  One day I just stopped buying diapers and he was using the bathroom.  The rest and the details?  All a blur.  Ask me about the other boys, I can pull up charts and books and all sorts of insane stuff.  In the end, they all use the bathroom equally well.  (Near as I can tell – I try to avoid their bathroom as much as possible.)
As a fourth, Andy has known a life of hand-me-down toys, books, and clothing.  I’m the oldest child in my immediate family and I was the first girl in my extended family, so I got everything pretty much new.  And, it was great.  But, I remember growing up across the street from a family with eight kids.  The three boys were older and mostly out of the house before I finished grammar school.  The older girls were our babysitters for years.  The younger girls were our best playmates.  And, how I envied their hand-me-downs!  They always had that look of comfort and coolness without ever having to break in a pair of jeans or having to stretch out a sweater.  I know they envied me my new clothes.  The grass is always greener and all of that . . .
Mostly, I think Andy is a cool little kid. Weird, sure, but I think there is an element of weird in true coolness, right?  His brothers think he’s okay too  – they let him tag-a-long with them just about anywhere.  He has never second-guessed wearing their old jeans or shorts.  One of his prized possessions is a Green Day t-shirt Danny gave him in a moment of weakness.  That said, even I have limits.
This morning, I was trying to get warm and wake up while I unloaded the dishwasher (you know? the dishwasher that once again cleans the dishes!!!).  Andy got up and hopped into the shower.  He wandered out to the kitchen struggling with a belt.  I glanced at him and noticed the waist on his jeans bunching up with about 5 extra inches.  I moved closer and saw (from the tag on the back of the Levi’s) that what he was trying to latch around his waist were a pair of MY jeans .  Flattering, but pathetic.  I’ve tried in the past to explain to Andy that the boy Levi’s have numbers on the tags.  Girls’ Levi’s don’t because most girls do not like to advertise that their waist and inseam are the same.  Apparently, he was in Peanuts mode when I told him this (Peanuts only hear wah-wah-wah when adults talk).  
I let him struggle.  He vanished for a bit.  I could hear clunking and clamoring.  Andy reappeared just as I was starting my first cup of tea (I love caffeine).  He was still sporting my jeans, but he had added a pair of Tim’s (Tim is 6’2″) long john bottoms to the mix.  The child had long johns up and under his armpits.  And, thus layered, he resumed his struggle with the belt.  And, I sat and watched.  
As I poured my second cup of tea, I suggested to Andy that he find the jeans that said 25″ on the back and try those instead.  He went to find THOSE jeans and I sat and snorted and laughed and wished there was a way to take pictures of this stuff.  
Andy came back out, sans long underwear or belt BUT with jeans.  I told him that in the next year or so it would all work out.  By then if he pulls on my jeans, they’ll be too short for him so there will be no question.  Wish us luck in the meantime.

2 thoughts on “On being the fourth . . .

  1. He's so damned cute. Ben could literally fit in one of my pants legs ANd won't wear jeans often b/c of his disdain for underpants…Something weird in the water in Early 2000.

  2. How funny! He sounds like such a little cutie patutie. I'm the oldest of only two, and Baby Boy is an only child, so we don't have any hand-me-down stories.

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