And so, the cast of characters includes first and foremost, my mother—or Granny to the boys. Ten years ago, she told me that she would watch Andrew for one year so that I could go back to work part-time without putting Andrew in day care. Aside from the one month break that she had five years later when Andrew was enrolled ever so briefly in Lavender Patch--before he decided that day care really wasn't for him-- she has had one or both of the boys on days that I work, well for a decade. Andrew fondly refers to her house as "Granny Camp" and either she is an incredibly poor judge of time, or one of the most selfless Grannies out there to provide the combination of well baby, sick baby, respite care, cafeteria service, activity planner and even, on more occasions than I probably want to admit, laundry service.
The mention of Andrew's fleeting enrollment in child care brings me to my older sister, Annie to the boys. I mention that she is older, not just to advertise the fact that she is, in reality, older than me, but also because it means that her children are older than mine. Andrew started day care when he started Kindergarten because they would transport him to and from his school. When it became apparent that he was going to be a day care dropout, Annie offered to drive him to and from school and has been carting my boys around ever since. She offers support in many other ways, but since her kids are already past the carpool stage, the fact that she has been willing to be bound by elementary school schedules for another five years is amazing. She has also served as the occasional stand-in on school activity days and was, come to think of it, the first person with a separate name from David, "Ann-NIIIIEEE."
The name that all of the Grandkids have for my Dad is "Bitsie" translated to "Addy" in David-speak. I am not even sure how it started and it might be an embarrassing nickname to some men, but my Dad has embraced it. Of course, Bitsie participates in all of the running with David, but more important in my mind is the fact that he finds special things to do with Andrew, who sometimes has to feel left out with so much focus put on David. He will take Andrew to ride bikes, to shoot a bucket of balls or even just play a game with him on the Wii, something I absolutely do not have the patience to do. He must be better than I am at Wii games, or more coordinated, or in better shape, or most certainly all of the above because Andrew enjoys playing Wii with him, but finds playing with me an exercise in frustration.
Our sole babysitter, who also happens to be my niece, Katie or Ka-hee to David, has been a godsend to me. It seems that she rushes to my rescue at just the right time with a sort of 18-year-old energy that I do not even recall having at 18, often armed with a café mocha prepared just the way I like. She smothers David in kisses and seems to be able to convince him to do things that he will not do for me, or if she cannot convince him she will scoop him into her arms (which with David weighing in at 55 pounds is no longer an easy feat) and somehow get him to cooperate. She has even volunteered for some of the really fun jobs (insert sarcasm here) like accompanying us to a dental appointment. We will certainly miss her as she heads off to college in a few weeks.
Thomas, my nephew, who is T or Tommy to David serves as David's wrestling partner, pommel horse and general punching bag. I think David put together his first two word sentence to get Thomas to continue playing a chasing game with him, "Run, T." At 13 years old, you would think he would have very little to do with his younger cousin who happens to have autism, but I marvel at the fact that he still chases David around our house, sometimes sporting David's favorite red blanket around his neck like a cape just to get a rise out of him. David's laugh makes Thomas grin with these big dimples that melt my heart—watch out girls!
And finally there is my bother-in-law, the doctor. I am not sure why Andrew chose to double his name to "John-John," but it stuck. David has always seen John as the intellectual of the family—rightfully so—and saves his deepest and most philosophical comments for him. It does not matter that John cannot understand a word of what was just said, he always listens intently and comments in return, for which I am grateful.
David does not say "thank you" very often. Actually, David never says "thank you" without being prompted and I certainly do not say it often enough. So, on the eve of David's first day of Kindergarten, I hope that David's villagers know how much we appreciate everything they do, but just in case they do not, a most sincere and heartfelt "thank you." David couldn't have made it this far without you.