He just turned 13 two weeks ago, but some days he acts twice his age (and of course sometimes he acts half his age, too 😉 and yesterday was one of those days.
I had to go run some errands “in the city,” which means just to travel there and back tacks on an extra 65-75 minutes to my absence from the house. I took Zachary with me, but Bria was taking a much-needed nap, so I left her with Benjamin, as well as Owen and Levi, who “NO WAY” wanted to come with me to Costco and Ross.
Now, Benjamin babysits for us all the time. All the time. He’s very good at it and has been doing it for quite a while. We live in a safe, gated community in the country, removed from everything else and surrounded by good neighbors.
But I was a little concerned about the baby. Lately she’s been super fussy — teething. Ugh. Nights have been awful, and days not much better. She’s been really clingy to me and cries a lot. But she needed that nap badly, and he hesitantly said he was up to the challenge, so I left her with him.
The first time I called to check on things, it was all good. Benj reported that the three boys at home were finishing up their schoolwork, and Bria was still asleep. I reminded him that she needed to have her diaper changed as soon as she woke up because I had forgotten before putting her to bed. “I know, I know. I will.”
The second time I called, I got an annoyed Owen who didn’t want to discuss the jammies I was trying to get at Ross for his role as John in their Peter Pan play (“I don’t know, okay?! YOU’RE the girl — you should already know what works without having to ask me!”); when he handed the phone to Benj, Bri had woken up and was mad. He was in the process of giving her a bottle, thawed from the freezer. I again reminded him to change her diaper, which he hadn’t done yet because “she needs her bottle first because all she wants is mama.”
The third time I called, I relayed that he would please need to make dinner because I was running late, having hit traffic on my way home (and having gone to Costco at the wrong time…although there’s never really a good time to go, as it’s always extremely busy, but that’s what you get when it’s the only one within 60 miles or so). Benj is on the Meals chore this week, anyway, but I’m usually there to help make them.
He wasn’t even fazed, even though I could hear a really fussy Bria in his arms. He put her on the phone for a minute (which made her more fussy after her first, momentary, happier jabber), and then, super sweetly, “I have to put you down for a minute, baby, so I can look for the food for dinner, okay?”
With the Trader Joe’s Macaroni & Cheese successfully located in the pantry (not a staple, but saved for situations like this), I hung up, telling him again how good of a job he was doing and that I’d be home soon. Did I mention how awesome it is that my big boy will still — every single time — say, “Love you, Bye” when he hangs up the phone? And when he leaves the house, or the car, or I leave the house? Or when he goes to bed?
I love it.
(And of course I tell him he can never stop.)
Anyway, Zachary and I finally get home with just a few minutes to spare before Mike arrives and he and Benj have to take off to scouts. Once inside with a big load of groceries, I spot my oldest whisking my youngest up the stairs — naked. Uh-oh. That can’t be good.
Next, I see her clothes on the kitchen floor, along with an extremely full, nasty diaper, not all of which is still in the diaper (guess those prunes finally worked). I hear the bath water turn on as I start putting away groceries that have to get in the fridge/freezer before it’s too late, and grab some veggies, etc. to go with the noodles for dinner.
A few minutes later, when Benj returns downstairs carrying a freshly-cleaned baby sister wrapped in a towel, his first, matter-of-fact words are: “Sorry the macaroni and cheese isn’t very cheesy; I couldn’t mix it very well. Her diaper was up to her neck.” Not “Look at me — I just had to change the world’s grossest diaper,” or “I can’t believe you weren’t home yet and I had to do this,” or even “You owe me, Mama.”
Mike had walked in during this, and offered to clean up the floor/diaper remains if Benjamin would get her dressed so they could hurry and eat and run. Benj took him up on his offer, of course, and got Bria dried and diapered and onesie-d and pajama-d, singing her little songs and talking to her in a happy voice all the while.
Of course there were lots of Thank-you’s and Great job’s. And when I asked if he had changed her diaper beforehand, he admitted that he had forgotten. I explained how an already-wet diaper can’t really hold any more, so where’s it going to go? “Ohhhhh. That’s why it shot up to her neck.”
Maybe he learned a lesson about changing diapers/listening to his mama.
But I learned that my son is even more epic than I had already thought — and that’s saying a lot.