By Kari Diane Pike
During the Thanksgiving holiday, I spent an entire week with my three-year-old grandson, Welsy, and his little brother Travis. A new baby brother was expected soon and I looked forward to experiencing once again the amazing adventures, menacing monsters, and tender truths that make up a young child’s world.
The first night of my visit, I sat on the couch to read a story with both boys snuggled in my lap. Their hair, still curly and damp from their nightly bath, smelled of lavender and the warmth of their little bodies wrapped around my heart. Each boy held one side of the book in a chubby fist, eager to help turn the pages. Since a new baby was coming, I had purchased the book, Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch. It has been a family favorite for years. The story is about a mother and the love she has for her baby boy as he grows to adulthood. Every night, when she knows he is really asleep (yes, even after he becomes a grown man and lives across town), she sneaks into his room and rocks him back and forth and sings him this song:
“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living,
My baby you’ll be.”
I made up a tune for the words to sing to my own children, changing the ending to:
“Forever, and ever, my [baby- or say the name of the child] you’ll be.”
The boys loved the story and I read it to them three or four times before they were tucked tightly in their beds.
Later that night, I awoke to the sound of Wesly screaming in fright. Knowing he regularly experiences night terrors, I rushed up the stairs to try to comfort him. I found Wesly standing in the middle of his room holding one index finger in the air as he cried out,
“G-g-gamma!” he sobbed, hiccupping between syllables. “I f-found a b-boogie!”
I gently wiped his finger and his nose and rocked him back and forth and sang our song to him again.
Early the next morning, baby brother Nathan made his debut. I don’t know how to describe the joy that filled the hospital room when these little boys came to meet their new brother. Wesly and Travis shouted in excitement the moment they saw Mom.
Then Wesly spotted Dad sitting in the corner, holding a blanketed bundle. Mom asked,
“Wesly, who is Daddy holding?”
Wesly made that noise of wonder that happens when you suck in all the air in the room. He ran across the room to his dad exclaiming,
“Oh, my baby brother! He came out! Can I hold him?”
After Wesly and Travis took a peek at Nathan, I helped them climb onto the bed next to Mom. Dad gently placed Nathan in Wesly’s lap and showed him how to support the baby’s head. Nathan squirmed a bit and started to fuss. Wesly placed his face next to Nathan’s and made a shushing noise.
“S’okay, baby. S’okay.”
Then he patted Nathan’s tummy and began to sing in his three-year-old voice,
“I love you forever,
I like you for always,
Forever and ever,
My baby brother…you came out!”
To that, I must say, Amen and Amen.