I have wonderful sons-in-law. They work hard, laugh easily, cook well, help their wives, and are exemplary daddies to their children. They are tolerant of the foibles of their in-laws. I can never thank them enough for making their home here, close to our home, so we have the company and blessings of all our growing family, right here, on a daily basis.
BUT.....there was a time when Matt was not the flavor of the day. Just about eight years ago, we waited anxiously by the phone in the minutes between September 6 and September 7. Ann's trip to the doctor that day sent her on to the hospital with the prospect of induced labor and the arrival of their first child...and our first grandchild. We waited....and waited...not just for news of the baby, but also reassurance that our daughter was all right. We waited for the call. Not real patiently.
Around 12:30, we received the wonderful news that Aaron Matthew was born. The new little family was fine, just exhausted. We could hardly go to sleep, but the night passed quickly. The morning of September 7 meant not just a trip to see baby Aaron, but also parking cars at the Chiefs game and watering the mum crop at the farm.
I had big plans to celebrate this little boy's birth with a new blue sheet and a can of black spray paint awaiting the number one grand baby's name. I was going to proclaim to all of Tarkio, "WELCOME, AARON MATTHEW!" Instead, in my excess excitement, I painted, 'WELCOME, AARON MAtHEW', committing the mortal sin of misspelling this brand new boy's name. ARGH! I noticed my error before I hung the big banner from the porch and painted in the extra 'T', but I was sure God and all his angels would forgive this error, much less my family, friends and neighbors.
As it has turned out, there is no one more forgiving of his grandma's foibles than this number one grandson, Aaron. I know his mommy and daddy worried and lost sleep during his first months, but I can only remember little Aaron plunging out of his mother's arms to reach out to me at about six months of age. As a very little boy, he loved his uncle Ben's Brio trains, especially the cranes with magnets. Over and over again, we would load the 'cargo' onto the little cars from the little trucks. Downstairs, we would hide the 'gold' in a fortress of blocks, then destroy the building and liberate the gold, loading it with another little blue crane and pushing it with a little orange bulldozer.
Aaron helped bake, perched on the counter or the high stool...he still sports remnants of the giant goose egg that is his grandma's greatest guilt trip and regret. We read Thomas the Train, Smoky (the train), Hobo Dog, McDuff, and the Big Farm Book over and over and over. We searched for Lowly Worm and Gold Bug in Richard Scarry books. He took full advantage of the bath room just off the living room, using the 'cups and spoons' to concoct all manner of delicacies and laughing uproariously as the frogs would squirt or the "monkey" would climb up my back or slide down my leg. His mother would caution he was getting 'too big' for any number of activities whether climbing or getting picked up. Well, he is now, but he wasn't then.......
Instead of going up to the second floor to bed, we would build a wall of pillows and blankets to make a dark cozy spot for a little boy to snooze in til Mom and Dad came to pick him up. More than once or twice, the little boy and Grandpa would be snoring harmonically in the quiet of late evening.
Eight isn't grown up, but its not "little" any more either. Instead of a cocoon of pillows, Aaron falls asleep with the Mizzou snuggie. He can deconstruct the 'body' book or the Stephen Biesty cross section book. We read about weather, water systems, and electricity now. He can build a better Lego from parts than I can from directions. We're learning piano now; Aaron mows the yard for his mom and dad; he's got a pretty good grasp of the flowers in the greenhouse, helping more than one customer find what they need. This spring, we hiked the hallowed halls of our Capitol together; he drove the simulator at Air and Space with his grandpa and uncle Ben....this summer he's been driving his dad around in the golf cart, helping to pick up mum orders.
It is fun to have Josh crawling around the house these days, even if he plows through anything on the floor like an ice cutter in the Arctic sea. It was pleasant to pore through the pictures watching Ben grow from scrapbook to scrapbook last month as we celebrated his birthday. But Aaron (or the Big A, as my dad calls him) could just as well be dubbed the big S at age 8 as he soaks up knowledge and experience like a giant sponge. What a wonder it is to have adverbs on your tongue at all times, to have learning explode like the 'Incredible Cross Section' book, to run, throw, bike, at warp speed, and to rest from it all in a sleep so profound, nothing short of a tornado drill or earthquake could arouse you.
Eight is great. Happy Birthday, Aaron!