Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Other End: Beginning

Anthony and I wouldn't mind adopting Ray. Not that we suppose we'll ever have that opportunity. But if the chance ever arose, we'd take it. I'm just saying.

Ray, to jog your memory, is my ex's toddler. That would be his third child, and half-sibling to Kathleen and Alex.

Alex is always very careful to say "half-sister," when questioned about the little bouncing bundle. Kathleen, on the other hand, not only calls Ray her "sister," but absolutely delights in bestowing upon her the most affectionate of nicknames, "Ray-of-Sunshine" first and foremost.

Kathleen's blatant adoration of Ray was immediate and obvious upon the latter's birth. Alex, by contrast, nearly vomited when she was born. I remember the day well, about a year-and-a-half ago.

The phone rang. I answered. It was the X, all plumped up with self-importance and over-inflated grandiosity, asking for Alex.

I knew what was coming, and thought Alex did too. Apparently, though, Alex merely understood the physical aspects of pregnancy and birth, but not the emotional impacts.

Alex: "Hello?"

Long pause, during which every molecule of blood drained from my son's face. Ashen would be an apt word to describe it.

Alex: "I think I'm going to be sick. Bye."

Alex has never admitted to being over his instinctive dislike of Ray. He insists he hates her. However, Kathleen's intel from the "other family" (As I call them. "What's happening with your other family?" I'll sometimes ask) proves otherwise.

She reports that Alex plays happily and often with Ray, that he poses, grinning, baby on lap, for family pix (I've seen some), and that his negativity on the subject is all a facade.

So, Anthony and I have speculated. What if X and wifey were killed in an unfortunate accident? One in which they died slowly and painfully, in horrific circumstances full of gore and ...oops... I digress. Hey, I have my therapeutic moments, now and then.

But you know what I mean. If they died, we could take Ray. Because she's uber-cute and a baby and my kids love her.

Sigh, this is what happens when you are too old to have any more kids, don't even logically want any more kids, but really wouldn't mind so much if a cute, giggly, little one somehow came into your life.

Thinking about Ray has made me realize that I have two examples, right before my middle-aged eyes, which illustrate perfectly the very start and the distant finish, and how these two life-cycle book-ends look, act, feel and emote; what they can, and cannot do; and the reactions they evoke in others.

Here are my top ten:

(1) Ray (18 months): can walk and sort-of run, but with no particular accuracy or assuredness of remaining upright.
Sally (1083 months): same thing, except the sort-of run is more a very fast shuffle. Really fast. She only does it when she thinks she's alone. Both Anthony and I have heard these curious, super-quick shuffle-sounds over our heads, and it creeps us out, without fail, every time.

(2) Ray: Falls on her diapered bum, often.
Sally: Ditto, except the bum does not yet require diapers, thankfully.

(3) Ray: Can say many words, but doesn't understand everything. Is constantly learning.
Sally: Can still say most words, but forgets a lot, doesn't understand many things, and is constantly unlearning a lifetime of previously gathered info.

(4) Ray: Can feed herself. Favorite food: porridge. Definitely can't cook.
Sally: Identical.

(5) Ray: displays a wide range of constantly varying emotion, from sadness to delight, rage to exhaustion.
Sally: Very similar, with a decided absence of delight. Probably cries more than Ray.

(6) Ray: Is the centre of attention wherever she goes.
Sally: Would like to be the centre of attention wherever she goes, but this occurs only in her doctor's office or when she calls an ambulance.

(7) Ray: Keeps getting new teeth.
Sally: Absolutely, except they are from her dentist. Also keeps losing them.

(8) Ray: Adores Kathleen, even more than she does her own mother Ali, I suspect.
Sally: Ummm....

(9) Ray: Lights up a room when she giggles, which is often.
Sally: Prefers sitting in the dark, also often. Another habit that creeps us out.

(10) Ray: Is unaware that she has her whole life ahead of her.
Sally: Is unaware.

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