“Please don’t go. We’ll eat you up. We love you so.”
-from Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak
If you are the youngest child in a very large child, you will likely be babied. Forever. If your very first days were spent with lungs that struggled to do their job, that meant your already doting family picked you up whenever you threatened to cry. If that was the beginning of your story, it only served to contribute to the aforementioned over-the-top babying… And that is our Jacob.
We. love. him. so.
And how could we not? Here is a boy full of life and confidence and conversation. He is a salesman. He loves music. He plays baseball with excellence and already shows signs of having a degree of humility, a rarity in an child who excels in a sport. He is happy with the present tense. He makes us laugh. All of us.
It is fitting that Jacob came last. Had Jono, the next youngest, been our finale, he’d have struggled with the constancy of attention relegated to the baby. Jacob, though, he’s made for it. He has a bit of the theatrical in him.
Jacob turned nine yesterday. I remember him as a baby (though he was the only one of my siblings who I didn’t meet when he made his appearance in the family). I lived in Montana at the time, and he was six weeks old when we met. He had a lot of hair…
I remember him as a toddler. He loved Jay most of all, calling him Doh. Bridget loved him most of all, calling him Bean. He didn’t talk as early as some of the kiddos, and I remember him sitting in his high chair speaking gibberish with the occasional word thrown in, “fra fra fra fra fra fra, shoes.”
I remember him the Christmas Mom was sick. He had a double ear infection. Dad and I took him to the ER on Christmas Day. Because Mom was having surgery on the 26th, I slept in Jakey’s bed with him, his feverish, little body curled against mine. In the months that would follow, he’d be the kid we (at least Meghan and I) worried most about (in retrospect, others struggled more). He was so little. Life seemed unfair. We were going to find out, though, that this little boy would learn words like cancer and chemo without batting an eye. This, I suppose, is God’s grace to Jacob. He is relentlessly in the moment.
And we needed a boy who was relentlessly in the moment. We still do.
Sometimes we get annoyed about our spoiled baby brother. So he’s indulged. It’s true, but it’s because we love him. We want the best for him. We find joy in this kid who, when he’s not getting what he needs or wants from a moment, is unafraid to say, “pay attention to me.” Attention has been paid. We are blessed.