My second youngest son turned three years old today. We didn't have a cake, a card or a gift for him (how sad is that), but I did manage to scrounge up the means to take the handsome young man out for lunch. That was a treat for him, and a neat opportunity for me to spend some time with him. I also enjoyed the chance to watch a movie with him when we got home after lunch, even if he did get bored with the movie halfway through it. Except for the fact that he doesn't have brown eyes, he is another Nicholai in appearance, but he's got a personality all his own. He can really be a pistol sometimes, but he can also be the most adorable little guy. It is still one of my favorite things in life to watch my children growing up and to savor each stage of development. Three has proven to be an especially fun age with a number of my boys so far, and I expect I will be delighted with my Frederick in this coming year of his life.
I should say right away that he is not named for any of the unionistic Prussian rulers who proved to be such a bane for the Lutherans. That would have been particularly ironic with his younger brother then named for Paul Gerhardt! But no, he is rather named for Frederick the Wise, who defended and protected Luther in the early years of the Reformation. In addtion to that, he is named for the exemplary Lutheran pastor, Wilhelm Löhe, for King David and St. Thomas, the Apostle. His due date was the 20th or 21st of December, which would have coincided with St. Thomas' Day, but as it was he showed up almost two weeks early.
As compared to the excitement of Gerhardt's birth last year, labor and delivery with Frederick was relatively "easy." (I know that such things are never really "easy," but I'm fairly certain that even LaRena would say it was "easy" by comparison.) In some ways, it was sort of humorous. Having had seven other children by then, I already knew how things tend to go with our babies; I'd learned how to read my wife pretty well in that respect. I certainly knew that delivery was getting close when we arrived at the hospital, and that it was also quite normal for LaRena to be calm and quiet about the whole thing. There was a resident on duty on the maternity floor, and a nurse assisting her, and they were both already focused on another woman in labor who was making a fair amount of noise down the hallway. They did a quick check on LaRena and made a judgment call that they had plenty of time with her, and that the other woman would surely deliver first. I had no idea, of course, regarding the other woman, but I did know there wasn't long to wait for our baby to be making his appearance. Labor generally goes smoothly and quickly for LaRena, and she progresses to the point of delivery in short order once the process is underway. This is one of the reasons that Zachary was delivered at home (not by intention), and why it is that Ariksander was born nine minutes after we entered the front doors of the hospital.
Well, anyway, we'd been at the hospital for not very long, and the nurse and the doctor were down the hall with the other woman, but I could tell that we were on the verge of delivery. So when the nurse poked her head in the door, ostensibly to assure us that everything was fine and they'd be around in plenty of time to assist LaRena, I casually observed that the baby would be born with the next contraction. I then watched with a certain degree of amusement, as the mental process played itself out on the nurse's face. She went from smirking incredulity to a dawning realization that, not only was I serious but, this being child number eight, I might actually know what I was talking about, and then came the look of frantic panic. She went tearing out the door and down the hall to fetch the doctor. I could hear them beginning to mess with the equipment, only to abandon that time-consuming nonsense in order to return more quickly. Sure enough, the next contraction delivered Frederick into the barely ready, waiting arms of the resident doctor, and that was that.
Dear little Frederick was baptized on the Feast of the Epiphany, which made for an all-the-more glorious celebration. His godfamily, Tim & Debbie Theiss and two of their daughters, were here for the occasion all the way from Texas. Getting them to come from Texas to northern Indiana in early January goes to show what good friends and devoted godparents Tim and Debbie are. We are grateful for them on all counts.
Frederick has been a challenge at times. He developed quite a piercing scream, which could send shivers up and down the spine, and for a while there I thought he would never outgrow it. I guess it was maybe a year ago that I threatened to write "Frederick and the Deadly Hollers," but I never have followed through on that potential best-seller. He's actually grown up a lot, and even though he still resorts to throwing a fit now and then, he can also be a real charmer. He asks lots and lots of questions, but does not hesitate to disagree with the answers he's given. We had several interesting such discussions over our lunch together today. Oh, the joys of mischievous, fun-loving little boys! They're not without original sin, but what you see is what you get, and there's something terribly refreshing about that.
Having a larger family means that the older children are growing up and leaving home as the younger ones are just arriving. There are benefits to that, as the younger children are not then always overshadowed by their older siblings. It also enables this family to fit inside its house! But I do regret that Zach and Fredo don't get to spend much time together. The two of them, in particular, bonded pretty closely in the first two-and-a-half years of Frederick's life. I know that Zach misses his little brother, and that goes both ways. Last night Frederick wanted Zach to snuggle with him as he was supposed to be going to sleep. I reminded him that Zach is in Texas with Bekah (as Frederick often reminds the rest of us!), and Fredo knows very well that Zach's Bekah is also his own godsister. So then he was missing not only his big brother but also his godfamily, but he was content with the way things are and was willing to have Nicholai snuggle him. He is such a little clone of Nicholai, I suppose the two of them will hit it off, also.