Davey was waiting in the living room when my mom entered carrying Mikey. He stopped throwing the baseball into his glove as a measure of caution to the baby in the room. “Good morning Davey” my mom offered as she put the burp cloth over her shoulder. She settled down in the chair across the room from where Davey sat. “Getting the team together?…Just the brothers today or do you need their dad too?” Davey responded with a nervous laugh. “Just one today…he said he’d be right down.”
“Burrrrp!” My mom stopped patting the baby’s back. “Good boy Mikey!” she responded, as she turned him back around to face Davey. As he sized up the baby, Davey couldn’t recall his mom reacting that enthusiastically when he burped. “This is Mikey” my mom interjected. “He’ll be staying with us for a while.” Davey returned to tossing the ball into his glove and looked toward the empty stairs. “Where’s Dawn?” he blurted out; a bit of apprehension in his voice. “She went to live with her new family” my mom responded, noticing the look of confusion that had swept across Davey’s face. She began to explain.
“We’re foster parents. We take in and care for newborn babies until a family can be found for them. Last week Dawn’s adoptive family was found and she went to live with them! Now we’re caring for Mikey.” She talked as she held both Mikey and his baby bottle; Mikey’s blue eyes followed the nipple, focusing and refocusing as my mom moved the bottle in front of the baby’s face while continuing to explain the adoption process to Davie. Mikey started to fidget, as did Davey.
“Where are the ‘real’ parents” Davie asked? My mom explained that some kids, like Davey, are born into a family, while others, like Mikey, join a family through adoption. She added, “Being parents is a very difficult job and some people just aren’t ready.” An empty sucking sound caught her attention and she moved the bottle nipple into Mikey’s mouth. Mikey’s fidgeting ceased.
“You’ve had a lot of babies!” Davey remarked. My mom laughed at the comment. “Yes I have…the kids have had twenty or so brothers and sisters pass through this house!” “I bet they can still name every one of them!” She reflected for a moment…herself picturing every one of their little faces (including the twins) in her mind’s eye. In her lap, Mikey quietly looked up at her while continuing to suck at the bottle; his little hand wrapped around one of her fingers.
Davey had put the ball and glove down to his side and was now leaning forward, looking across the room at the baby. “Don’t you get sad when they leave?” “I do…we all do” she responded. “But they’re going to a loving family” she continued. “We get to say our goodbyes before the social worker comes to pick them up; usually when the kids are in school…it’s easier that way.” Her voice trailed off. After a momentary pause, my mom smiled, looked down at Mikey, then at Davey. “Do you want to hold him?” “I don’t know how!” he retorted. But my mom was already across the room and placing Mikey into Davey’s outstretched arms. “Just put your arm under here and hold his head up…there…that’s right.” Davey sat very still with the bundle of life in his lap. He looked up nervously at my mom…“He’s so little!” “Yes he is!” (But they always rush to the big game she thought!) “I like them when they’re this little!” Davy added. He beamed as he became more comfortable holding the baby. “Well I’m sure that someday you will make a very good dad!” Baby Mikey looked up at Davey, and in the moment he smiled and cooed. Davey smiled and cooed back.
The moment was broken by the sound of my jumping down the stairs…”Thirteen steps!…heh heh…Let’s go play some ball!” I demanded as I pushed open the screen door. I was halfway down the driveway before I noticed the lack of Davey’s presence. I walked heavily back into the house to see my mom and Davey talking…DAVEY…TALKING TO MY MOM! “He better not be asking my mom to play in the game” I thought to myself. “LET’S GO!” I whined. Showing a level of care I had not previously seen Davey impart upon anything, he slowly handed Mikey over to my mom and kissed him on the forward; then nonchalantly picked up his ball and glove, and joined me at the door. “WHAT?!” he said in response to my sideward glance of displeasure. We ran down the driveway together. “I’m going to miss your baby brother when he leaves.” “Yup…me too!” I responded; the last words between us as we rushed to the big game.