Friday, July 17, 2009

What a Difference a Blond Makes

After twenty eight hours of the most draining physical labor I had ever known, Alexander John Gracia was placed in my arms. I looked down at his perfectly round olive toned face, complete with two of the biggest, brownest baby eyes I had ever seen, ran my hand through his forest of damp, black hair and said, "I have never loved anything like I love him."

Three and a half years later and we are back for number two. Just a few hours of induced labor, eight minutes of pushing, and surprisingly not a whole lot of pain and Samuel Robert Gracia was brought into our lives. What a different experience that was I thought as they were wiping my second baby down. And the difference didn't stop there. Sam was given to me and my first words were not a proclamation of love. "He's blond?!?"

Glen and I expected our second would probably look similar to Alex---how different could our two babies look? We weren't prepared for the tricks that genetics can play. Apparently our Italian and Portuguese genes were out having drinks by the pool while my quiet Irish genes took control of this creation.

The surprises didn't end with Sam's hair and complexion. That first night in the hospital he ate, took his binky and fell asleep with no intervention needed. Glen and I looked at each other perplexed. Aren't we supposed to walk him, bounce him, dance him, drive him, sing him, talk him to sleep?? Our first night (oh wait--I mean our first YEAR) with Alex was filled with these techniques. "Must be a fluke," I said. "He'll probably be up again in a few minutes." But no, this was just Sam. Our little blondie was also quite a sleeper. He slept all of the time. In fact, at almost four years old now, he still takes at least a two hour nap everyday. Alex outgrew those dreaded naps by age two. If Sam wasn't sleeping, he was eating or smiling at us. He was just a happy, content little guy right from the start.

Since the day Alex was born, he has always been very lovey and a bit clingy. As a baby, he had to be literally on us to be happy. As a toddler, he butt-scooted, carrying his toy of choice into each room I moved to during the day. As a pre-schooler he and I performed the kissing hand everyday at drop off. And now, he still sneaks his way in between us in the middle of the night from time to time.

Sam, on the other hand has always been perfectly fine on his own. He even declines offers to have family sleep overs in our room. He is definitely lovey and cuddly but only when he wants to be. A perfect example of this occurred just a week or so ago. I had had a trying day with the troops--lots of arguing, whining, you know the drill. As I was cleaning dinner dishes at the sink and patting myself on the back for getting through this day, I heard Alex say, "Sam, come here for a minute." I turned around, ready to warn Alex that he better not tease his brother when I see him grab Sam's face, lean down and kiss him right on the forehead. I was filled with such love and pride for my children. What a great way to end this day--all was redeemed and right in my mothering world. I wiped a tear from the corner of my eye just as I heard Sam. "Alex, tome (come) here." He grabbed Alex by the shoulders. I braced myself for the overflowing love I was about to feel for my middle child. "Put your head down. Yeah. Here." And with that, he kneed his older brother in the nose. Ahh...there's the love.

Another moment that completely defined Sam as a very different Gracia was the funeral for our cat, Cookie. Alex was quietly emotional during the interment of our older adoptee. He gathered flowers, Cookie's old toys and wrote on her gravestone. He didn't want to say any words. Sam was full of words. "Why tan't (can't) I see her? How is she donna (gonna) det (get) out? I want to see what dead looks like." Then in a way only Sam could do it, he turned around to face us, put one hand on his hip, the other up in the air, pointing at something only he can see when he gets like this and said, "I have an idea! I am donna write Tookie a letter. You duys stay right there. Don't move." And he ran into the house. A few minutes later, he arrived, scribble in hand. I told him that I thought that was a very nice idea and that I am sure Cookie will love it. Then I asked him what he wrote. "Bye, Tookie. You're dead." How's that for a eulogy?

I watch my little blondie very closely each day and as much as he can fight with his older brother, his attempts to follow in his footsteps are very obvious. And although Alex is a good role model to look up to, I hope Sam finds solace in his own skin. I hope he nurtures his individuality and realizes early on that he is pretty amazing on his own--blue eyes, blond hair and all!

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