Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Two Girls, a Boy, and a Softball in a Diaper

My mama and daddy were fruitful and multiplied three times before there were no more babies, two girls fairly close together and a boy eight years later.

I was with my mom when she found out she was pregnant with my baby brother. We lived in Morocco at the time while my dad was serving in the Air Force. Mom made me promise not to tell anyone that she was going to have a baby so she could be the first to surprise Daddy.

Here's the thing. I was seven. I had a secret. Mama was the one who said the words about me promising not to tell anyone. So, by the time Daddy got home, I had told everyone in our little apartment building, everyone in the village, and everyone I saw including our maid Aisha. I told everyone in both English and French. He was given lots of smiles, pats on the back, and congratulations before he greeted my mom with a big kiss.

Let me clarify a couple of things. We were anything but wealthy when it pertained to having a maid. The Air Force wanted to help locals in the village, so they hired women to work as domestics to Air Force families. I absolutely loved Aisha. She was Arab, Muslim, and always happy. She spoke French although her main language was Arabic. Being terribly frightened of electricity kind of cramped her style, but she could mop a mean floor and tell the best stories. Her lap was perfect for a little seven year old. She told the stories in French. Understanding her words was not always easy because I think she threw in a few Arabic phrases, but it didn't matter. I loved them anyway.

Most people spoke French because we lived in the French half of Morocco with the other half of the country owned by the Spanish. It's independent now, but since just about everyone spoke French where we lived, we speakers of English picked up French a lot easier than Arabic. So when I got back to the states, I was bilingual, but forgot the French pretty quickly since I didn't use it anymore on a regular basis. I remember more than anything missing Aisha and her wonderful stories.

Because Mom and Dad had this "rh factor" thing in that one had positive blood and the other negative (or something along those lines), we returned to the states earlier than planned. I thought we'd been deported because Mom hit the French Commandant's car, but that's another story. I know my dad would have loved a girl just as much as a boy, but my baby brother was born at the air base in Louisiana, and I will always remember the beaming face of my father as he proudly showed off our newest addition to the family, his son and namesake...someone to carry on the family name.

My sister and I fell in love immediately, but I gotta tell ya, that baby boy was mine. I had a real live doll to play with. It was great. And I never once dropped him on his head. I wasn't jealous or anything.

Being sisters who were really good at coming up with ideas to freak out our mother, we found that doing stuff to our baby brother was a given. One day, after he had just learned how to walk, Reenie and I decided to put a softball in his diaper, you know, so that Mom would get the picture.

She took one look at his "loaded" diaper and proceeded to spread newspaper on the floor before placing Stan in the middle of it. Standing in a door way, my sister and I watched the whole thing trying desperately not to laugh. Mom was making clucking sounds as she apologized for feeding her little boy a little too much. As she unpinned the diaper and carefully started to remove it, the softball came tumbling out even bouncing a bit on the floor.

My mama just never cussed, but I heard her say a word that I had never heard her say before...damnit!" Then she yelled for us. We had already left the house scurrying across the yard to the safety of a street corner.We knew Mom couldn't leave our brother alone, so we were safe for the time being. When we finally came in, we got quite a scolding, but I know I saw the corners of her mouth twitching upward.

My sister and I also let the air out of our brother's air mattress as he slept soundly while we were on a family camping trip. He was about six by then, so that would make us 14 and 16. We should have known better, and did, but, gosh, it was so much fun to mess with our brother. He kind of slid to the bottom of the tent so that his feet were sticking out the tent door. Of course, we started laughing hysterically.

Somehow, my mom heard us from her and Dad's tent (it was the middle of the night), and was convinced her baby boy was being terrorized once again. Stomping over to our tent, she lifted her precious little son in her arms and if looks could kill, my sister and I would have met our maker that split second. I think my brother slept through it all or pretended to so he could avoid public humiliation.

Somehow, my brother survived his sisters. He grew up to become a husband, father, teacher, coach, lawyer, charity creator, local TV personality, and motivator. He is a good man, this brother of mine. He made it despite having two sisters who loved him dearly, but also loved to torment him.

I think it just made him stronger. He's a beautiful successful man, but for some reason he's never much like softball or sleeping in tents.


Stan said...

Traumatized brother here.

Never gotten over it. The sound of a rolling ball sends fear through me. Dad used to watch bowling . . . I would run out of the house in fear it would attack my shorts.

Air mattresses . . . they are another source of terror. Whenever I pump up a basketball, I get flashbacks of sliding down the hill.


Coleen Brooks said...

Ah, you know we loved you, baby bro. You have given me so much writing material through the years. :-)

Howling Caterpillars said...

What a great story.

Coleen Brooks said...

Howling Caterpillars

I tried to leave a comment on your blog, but I couldn't get past the prove you're not a caterpillar nonsense "words". Anyway, if you read this, I love the necklace.

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