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And Baby Makes Eight
5:40 p.m. - 2003-07-29

One day when I was eight years old, I was waiting, all spiffed up, with the other kids for my mom and dad to come home from the hospital. They were bringing the latest (and last) baby home. I was wearing a cotton jumper in red tones and a white blouse with narrow woven braid trim. I remember standing next to the bassinet with January and looking at the newest brother. Evan Andrew. January and I decided that we would call him Andy, but we never did. He was Evan from the moment he came into the house. He had strawberry blond hair and very blond eyebrows, very different coloring from the rest of us. I have lots of pictures of him as a kid because I took a photography class in grade school and practiced around the house. In some of the pictures he is toddling around with a pot lid on his head.

One year when he was, oh, five or six or so, we all pitched in to get him a hot wheels track for Christmas. As a surprise, the other boys put it together and put it in the hall bedroom. When Evan opened his present, it had instructions to go to that room. As soon as he entered, we could hear very loud screams and hollers of pure joy as only a child can utter. It was a good thing that that was the last present to open, because we could not pry him away from it.

The boys used to do spectacular stunts with that track. It was bright orange and had assorted lengths that snapped together. They would run it down the hall, usually starting it from some high point, make a loop-de-loop about as big as a hula hoop, and then the poor hapless hotwheel would shoot like a bullet into the living room, striking the unwary.

Which brings to mind one of the scariest moments of my childhood. One day, my mother was taking a nap on the livingroom couch. I was playing with my brother's dart gun (you see where I am going with this) - the kind with the rubber suction cup tip - and I shot it into the livingroom. I accidentally shot my mom right in the forehead. There she lay with the dart stuck to her forehead. I had to get it off of her before she woke up and I lost every penny I ever hoped to have. We did not have time out, we were not sent to our rooms, and we did not go on restriction (well, hardly ever), no, we were fined. We never had much money so this was a much more effective punishment, watching your allowance evaporate before you even got it. I went into a crawl position like I had seen soldiers in the jungle do in old war movies. I inched my way across the livingroom rug, hardly daring to breathe too hard, until I was next to the couch. I reached up and gently took the dart off her head, then inched my way back. Way too much stress. Years later she told me that the dart sort of woke her up, and she was just too tired to jump up and yell at me, but for years I thought I was the commando queen.

Evan also had GI Joes, not the modern little kind, but the big kind, like a Ken doll on steroids. They had jointed elbows and wrists, knees and ankles, so you could put them in many positions. Their pointer fingers and thumbs formed a circle so that they could hold weapons, but this enabled the boys to hang them on a rope tied up high in the end bedroom and swoosh the dolls at great speed, also into the livingroom. You had to watch yourself in our livingroom. One year I had some scraps of old fur from my grandmother so I made outfits for the GI Joes for Evan's Christmas present. I made parkas for each of them, and they looked like aggressive Eskimos. Evan loved them, and I think they are still around somewhere.

Today Evan is a tall, funny, handsome man with a wife and two children of his own, but to me, he is still that kid with a pot lid on his head.

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