Well, I wished him a happy birthday on his real birthday. I'm just now getting around to writing about it.
Calvin is my nephew. He is now eleven. He's my sister's son.
She also has a daughter, Natalie, who is 8.
Calvin was my first child, in a way. He was my first experience with an infant.
I didn't babysit as a teenager…in fact I think I'd only changed a diaper once or twice in my life – if that. So I learned a lot of my mothering skills from my experiences with Calvin, and more of them later with Natalie.
I first saw Calvin about 12 hours after he was born. My sister and brother-in-law, Jacques, lived in Massachusetts at the time, and I rode up with my parents that first day. I brought my camera, loaded with black and white film, and took pictures of the new baby (asleep for most of the visit), of my sister, of my brother-in-law, of my parents…
He was so small.
In one of the pictures Jacques' hand is resting gently on the sleeping bundle of Calvin…Jacques is bending over to look at his brand-new son…a beautiful moment.
They lived in Mass for Calvin's first year of life …but a lot of visiting took place back and forth on the weekends, so I saw him a lot. Saw him as he grew…as he started smiling…heard about him grabbing the cat's tail and that she pulled him across the room…saw him having a grand old time eating fistfuls of spaghetti…I took a ton of pictures of him. Mostly black and white. I had access to a darkroom then and would process my film and print my own pictures…so many from his first years.
Some memories of Calvin…
* Before he could manage my name, he called me "Ah-dee-dee"…which was the best he could do with "Auntie Jayne"…I miss my Ah-dee-dee days, actually.
* Instead of "please" he would say "pete."
* Some of his favorite stories were "Jack and the Beanstalk"…"Where the Wild Things Are" (I can still recite that from memory)…"Little Red Riding Hood"…"Green Eggs and Ham"…"In the Night Kitchen"…"The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig" (no, that's not a mistake – it's a great book)…
* When he was about 3 or so, after Natalie was born, I was hanging out with my sister in the living room while she fed Natalie a bottle…I used to come over with coffee and bagels, early. Calvin was in his little fuzzy feetie pajamas…and suddenly we heard the front door open. Mere and I looked at each other…and I got up to investigate. Calvin was down the stairs, and halfway up the front walk, sippy cup in hand. "Calvin" I called to him…"Where are you going?" "To work" he replied.
* He used to say "Good Morning!" to the local morning newscasters on TV (Frank Colletta and Art Lake) and raise his sippy cup when they raised their coffee mugs…
* He is very, very ticklish.
* When he was in kindergarten, somehow the subject of girlfriends came up. My cousin Steve asked how many Calvin had. "Three," he said, nonchalantly.
* One year – he was probably two at the time – my sister decided to dress him as a scarecrow for Halloween. My father supplied a straw hat – which was cut up somewhat to provide us with straw to stuff up Calvin's sleeves and also so it wouldn't look so huge on Calvin's little head. He wore a little plaid shirt and jeans, and I did the make up on his face – some cross-hatching in brown so it would look like burlap…sort of. He sat there so patiently. Never protested. I went with my sister and Calvin around to the houses (Jacques had to work) and we would encourage him to say "trick or treat" at every door. He just stood there, staring solemnly up at the encouraging smile of the person handing out the candy. But he didn't say anything. He just seemed to be of the opinion that this was just too bizarre to even question. We'd stuck him in this weird get-up and now we were trying to get him to say something to these people…and carry a little plastic pumpkin…and for what? Clearly Mommy and Auntie Jayne had gone a little nuts. But finally, toward the end of the excursion, he figured it out. It was pretty much right after Mere let him have some candy, if I remember right. All of a sudden – Aha! That's why we're doing this! To get candy! At last it made some sense.
* I got to be with Calvin during his second session of swimming lessons when he was three because my sister was too close to her due date to go into the pool. It was great – it was a tremendously hot and humid summer that year, so it was a treat to "have" to go into the pool at the Y with Calvin and the other adult/toddler combos. He loved it. He still does. He is a fish.
* He is a first grade junior black belt in karate. Did I mention he's eleven?
* When he was little he used to get a kick out of trying to wear my big, heavy LL Bean boots. He'd stand in them and struggle to move each foot into something like a walk…now his feet are the same size as mine, and still growing.
* He has a great sense of humor.
* He used to make cookies with me, when he was little. We made peanutbutter cookies one time and I remember teaching him to roll the dough into little balls…"wo and wo" (roll and roll)…and of course his big fun was trying to grab chocolate chips or brown sugar as often as he could.
* The other day he asked me why our cousin Steve and his wife Colleen were saying congratulations to me. I told him I was going to have another baby in May. He looked at me…"you get to pick when you have it?" I said no, I didn't exactly pick the month, but that's when it would be. He looked me up and down from where he slouched next to me on the loveseat. And then he said it. He said "You don't look pregnant." He is my favorite nephew.
Happy (belated a bit in this blog) Birthday Calvin! See you for cake tomorrow!