It seems impossible to me that my fat little black haired baby is turning 15.
The day he was born I made a huge plate of yeast donuts before I realized I was in labour... I couldn’t eat even one… I took the plate of donuts and his sister to his grandparents. That annoyed me for years. I think he was five when I made the next batch of yeast donuts. I had to be sure I wasn’t going to be interrupted by hatching again.
Did I mention that he was a fat baby?
He was so fat that he didn’t want to crawl. We needed both hands to count his rolls around various body parts. All he wanted to do was eat, and laugh, and eat. We called him “fat man,” which his Mimi thought was absolutely deplorable and would scar him for life. Little did she know we’d do so many more-scarring things! 🙂
And he didn’t smile.
Well, he smiled for us. In fact, he had this big cheesy grin where he’d throw his head back as far as he could and smile for all he was worth. That was my favourite. He’ll still do it if I ask him. It’s not as cute with teeth as it was at six months old.
But he never smiled for strangers. Ladies in grocery stores would ask what was “wrong” with him. I would always reply, “Just because he doesn’t like you doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with him!” That sorted people out.
He loved it when Hannah and Ben would pull him back as far as they could in his jolly jumper, in the big doorway between my room and the living room, and fire him off like a slingshot.
From the moment he could walk, he ran. As a little boy he was almost never found out of uniform.
His uniform? A coon skin hat (only cut with rabbit fur so it looked like a skunk skin hat) a yellow canvas vest with about ten pockets and his cork rifle. There were corks and pocket knives and matchbox cars in every pocket.
When he was seven, he poured about half a gallon of gasoline out on our wooden deck, “Just to see what would happen.” He still remembers what happened. You can ask him sometime.
For his sixth birthday we made him a tipi. He pretty much lived in it for two summers straight.
He is a boat boy. Canoes, rafts, his rowboat, the motor boat, sailboats, whatever. He likes boats. When we’re on the island, he’ll take his boat and be gone for hours. Long enough that Grammy will suggest that maybe we ought to go looking for him, which offends him… because, of course, he’s fine… just off in his boat for six hours without breakfast or lunch, why would anyone worry? His dream is to sail around the world like Uncle Josh. He has plans in the works with his friend Josh D. I have no doubt they will do it.
Gabe was 9 into 10 when we made him homeless and hit the road. That year he rode his bicycle, fully loaded from London, UK to Africa and back. Not shabby.
When he was 11 he got SCUBA certified in Belize.
When he was 12 he leapt off of cliffs and kayaked all over our favourite Lago.
When he was 13 he went cross country (USA) with his best friends and spent a month living and working in Indiana on a hydroponic lettuce and sheep farm. The lettuce is hydroponic, not the sheep.
When he was 14 he learnt to kite surf in Thailand.
- He’s passionate about boats.
- He loves to hike and camp.
- He’s always up for an adventure.
- He asks me every single day, “How can I help?”
- He’s a very hard worker.
- He’s become a great writer.
- When the wheels on the camper stop, he’s instantly out the door hooking us up and doing the “outside work.”
- He loves little children. Loves them. They love him back.
- He laughs a lot.
- He plays guitar, and he plays lego. I love that he has a foot in both worlds, it makes him fun.
- He’s learning to tie all of the mariners knots, and he’s learning programming.
I’m not one of these Moms who makes predictions about who her kids are or what they will do eventually. I have very little emotional investment in that. I want them to follow their dreams and do something they’re passionate about. I want them to work hard and be as happy as is reasonable to expect in this hard-knock world. I don’t count my chickens before they hatch, we’ll see who these crazy kids are in ten more years before we make any broad, sweeping proclamations of success.
I will say, it’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys watching him grow up. I love that he and Hannah are great friends. I love that he’ll get down and play with his little brothers. I love that he knows what it means to work hard and delay gratification for the benefit of others. I love his general cheerfulness and his dedication to whatever the day presents.
Interested in his life in his own words? He shares a blog with his brothers: Have Brothers, Will Travel