Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Tank Engine Named Gage

When my sister's son was born, I thought he was one of the scrawniest newborns ever. His tiny little legs were still wrinkly, and he was just so fragile looking, though he was full term and a healthy weight.

Gage grew. And grew. And grew. And by the time he was trying to crawl, he was affectionately called "Tank." Really. The kid was huge. Big head. Solid body. His pants were always too tight, and it was uncomfortable for him to sit up because of how chunky his midsection was.

I watched my sister as parent to this dynamo in amazement. I know now that my children are quite low maintenance. Ben was an easy-going, happy-go-lucky baby. Gage? High maintenance. Very intense and frenetic. Very loving and curious.

Gage-a-roo turned 1 in November. He now outweighs Ben (who is 2) by 3 pounds. When we knew that Jo was having a boy, we were thrilled because it seemed so easy that Gage would get all of Ben's hand-me-downs at just the right time. That worked fine for a few months, but Gage caught up. They've worn the same size now for months.

Last week, my sister surprised us with a visit on Wednesday. It was wonderful seeing her (and her growing belly) and Gage. It was even better to see the little cousins play together. Gage and Ben ran around the house with each other, they played with choo-choos and balls, they snacked and watched Thomas. We had a sneak peek at a burgeoning lifelong friendship. So great that they are less than a year apart: they'll always have a buddy at family get-togethers.

To give you an idea of the boundless enthusiasm of my nephew Gage?

When he gets excited to see someone, he hits them. Imagine my sister in sheepish horror as she watches Gage barrel over to a little girl who he thinks is cute. His arms flailing, he shrieks and squeals with delight, and when he's close enough, he slaps her right across the face. Who taught him that? And how do you explain him to her parents? And how do you comfort the little girl who thought she was making a new friend?

Or the time that his dad took him to the YMCA kiddy pool to play. While still on the pool deck, Gage saw a little girl who he thought was cute. (Do you see the pattern?) Just barely walking, the girl didn't stand a chance against the force of nature that is Gage. He ran over to her and tackled her, tumbling into the water with her. He just wanted to give her a hug.

Yes. We all keep a close eye on Gage. We're all looking forward to him growing older, both to see what this bounding tidal wave of energy will do and to see him (hopefully) mellow out a little when he's able to talk and communicate with words instead of slaps and tackles.

I wuv the widdle guy, and I wish we lived closer so that our kids could play together more.

**Can you believe that once my sister's baby is born, there will be FIVE cousins within three years of each other? It will be a wild and crazy Christmas at my parents' house, that's for sure.**

Gage eats his birthday cupcake at Thanksgiving 2007.