Generation 1, Chapter 10
After several weeks of complaining and feeling rundown, I finally got El to agree to go see a doctor. When she came home, she was grinning like the Berryshire Cat!
“Jag, we’re pregnant,” she stated simply. She went on to tell me how the appointment went. The tests indicate that she was about five months along.
I should have guessed El was pregnant. Perhaps deep in my mind I had hoped she wasn’t. Weren’t five boys enough? What if we have another boy? That would crush El, I’m sure. She has wanted a girl from the start. She’s so fragile, another boy (or two or three) would send her tail spinning into depression, I fear.
But – on the other hand, she does love children – so who knows! She had no morning sickness with this pregnancy, at least. She was so happy, how could I not be happy as well?
She had me drag all of the baby things out of storage (what she had insisted we keep, at any rate.) She spent much of her time going through the boxes, deciding what she would use, what she would keep for each of the boys, and what she should finally give away.
She came out onto the deck one day and called down to me, “Jag, it’s time!”
I dropped everything and ran up from the garden as fast as I could. I ran around the front of the house and found El standing at the curb, waiting on the cab she had already called for. Obviously, I was a bigger bundle of nerves than she was.
The cab arrived almost as soon as I joined El at the curb.
When we got to the hospital, El stopped at the door, and turned toward me, “You’d better let the boys know where we are.”
She turned and walked through the door. I pulled out my cell and called Dusty. I trust him to get the message to the others.
I got his voice mail, so I left a message. I tried Smoky, then, and also got his mailbox. Of course, they’re in class now, but hopefully one of them will check their messages soon.
Labor and delivery went quicker than I remember. But then it has been some time since we’d gone through this, the boys being teenagers, so it’s not something I readily remember. I’m sure El remembers every little detail of each pregnancy and birth. I can tell you which grapes I planted and harvested each year, but the nuances about the children’s births – um, no!
El was ecstatic; she’d not only gotten the girl she’d always wanted to pamper, but she got two. That’s right, twin girls; Abbey and Dawn. As soon as the girls were given a clean bill of health, we gathered them up and headed for home.
We still made it home before the boys, giving me time to get another crib out of storage and cleaned up. We hadn’t planned on another multiple birth; especially not this late in our lives. This will be a trial, that’s for sure. Thank goodness we have the boys here to help out! I vaguely remember some of the harrowing times with the five boys ALL in cribs at the same time. Having only two should be a walk in the park – SHOULD be!
The boys came in the door just as we were getting both girls settled in their new beds. El asked if I wanted to tell the boys, but the smile on her face told me I didn’t want to. I stayed with the girls for a while longer while El made her way downstairs to let the boys know they had two sisters. Soon El came back in with a parade of teenagers in step behind her.
They all seemed to be okay with the idea of baby sisters; cooing over them the way they were. Coal came in and looked quickly, then backed to the other side of the room. He has never liked crowds; any more than himself was a crowd. He’s been getting better about being around people, but he still has a ways to go.
The boys all said they would help out, but none of them were willing to change diapers. I can’t blame them, but I did my share of wiping small purple and grey bottoms. I’m sure one or two of them will come around.
El and I had been invited to a party by Rock Candy for a few nights later. El was still pretty tired, so I was going to call to let him know we couldn’t make it. El told me I should go. She said she’d be alright with the boys there. Reluctantly, I agreed to go. I arrived a little late, and made my apologies to Rock.
I had met Rock at the Consignment Shop when I was dropping off some nectar to sell. He happened to be looking for unique nectar and someone had told him to try the Consignment Shop. He began asking me questions about my nectar; how it was made, the fruits I used, etc. The particular bottles I had that day were made with Gralladina Fran Grapes I had brought from Nectar Valley and a touch of Flame Fruit. He purchased a couple bottles and has become one of my most loyal customers.
As I was chatting with Rock, I noticed Grey and Smoky were there. I waited for Rock to introduce me around before I confronted the boys. They were supposed to be at home helping El with the girls; not that thereof them weren’t enough; but these two did not ask for permission to go to a party; at least they didn’t ask me. A party to which I’m almost certain they were not invited.
I cornered Grey, since he appeared to be the fifth wheel, “were you invited to this party?”
“I don’t know. Smoky talked him in to coming,” he said.
“Do you always do anything Smoky suggests?”
“Well, umm…no…” he trailed off.
“I suggest you find out if he was invited. If not, head home and I’ll deal with you two then.”
“Okay, Dad!” Grey said as he slumped over to where Smoky was entertaining Cotton.
Val came over and said he didn’t want to interfere, but was almost positive no teenagers were on the guest list. He had questioned Smoky and Grey when he ran into them.
Val was sure they had lied to him about having an invitation. It was good to see Val; it had been a while. We really need to get together more often. We’ve grown apart, each of us with our own families and businesses keeping us busy. We email occasionally, but mostly it’s to discuss our businesses.
I mingled with many of the guests, acquiring some more nectar orders, thanks to Rock’s rave comments. I’m glad El suggested I come.
It was getting late, so I found Rock to thank him for the wonderful evening and the new orders. I also apologized for the boys crashing his party. He insisted it was fine as no harm was done.
As I stepped outside, I phoned El and told her of the boys’ escapades. She said she would make sure the boys were home when I got there. She had them trying on their formal outfits for their upcoming prom, keeping them occupied.
“Smoky, go up and put on your prom outfit. I want to see how you look.”
“I don’t feel like putting it on now. I’ll try it on later,” he countered defiantly.
“I didn’t ask you if you WANTED to try it on. Why must you be so rebellious all the time? Why can’t you be like your brothers?” El snapped at him for first time. She had never raised her voice to any of our children before.
“Maybe I will and maybe I won’t,” he hissed through gritted teeth.
“You’re grounded for two-weeks. I will not have one of my children talking to me in that tone,” El informed him, defeated.
When I got home, El told me what had transpired and I made my way up to Smoky’s room. I had a talk with Smoky; albeit a pretty much one-sided one, as he did not say anything. In fact, he didn’t even look at me. I confirmed the two-week grounding as I turned to leave.
I left his room feeling I was in the wrong. It’s very hard for me to identify with our kids as I never experienced society as they have. I was all work and no play. I helped with the vineyards and Val got to go play. I never thought twice about what I might or might not miss. I was the oldest; it was my duty to learn and take over the family business. Things have surely changed since those simplistic days back in Nectar Hills.
The tension in the house grew, as Smoky didn’t so much as say hello to me or El in the days following. He went to school and came straight home. He even dropped his after school activities. He would help out with repairs and the garden if asked. Most of the time he would take it upon himself to repair something that was obviously broken.
The other boys did their share of chores, too. El was concerned that Smoky was not talking to either of us. He would not help with the babies, either; although El had the other boys to help out. I assured her he would come around.
El’s concern seemed to be warranted in the coming weeks. After his grounding was over, Smoky would come straight home from school, finish his chores, do his homework and go to his room. He became more distant as the days passed, making himself scarce on the weekends.
To be fair, Smoky wasn’t the only one keeping his distance. Each of them had their days or moments. I didn’t want to press them too much, as I feel they should have some privacy, but sometimes I felt the need to know more. A wise old Berry once told me that we will always second guess our decisions in life; that it’s the nature of things.
What did I really know about them? Dusty was always wrapped up in his books or the computer. He had a thirst for knowledge. He spent a lot of time at the library and worked at the science facility or the observatory during his summers off.
Smoky was a hands-on person; he was always tinkering with something or other. He would spend a lot of time building with scrap at the work bench. He would build oddities and then take them to the consignment shop. He’d even sold an item or two. Smoky was a natural at Martial Arts, as well, spending much of his free time training.
Coal was easy; although he didn’t like crowds, he had a stage presence. He participated in school productions from as early as I can remember, and summer stock at the local theater. Around people, he was shy and awkward, but on the stage, he was commanding; flawless. I can’t understand how anyone could have a fear of people, but I’ve done my best to deal.
Grey was a jock trough and through; always involved in sports. If he wasn’t participating at school, he would spend his time training or playing at the local fields with his friends. I think he has commitment issues; he’s quite popular, but never seen with the same Berry on his arm more than a couple times.
And finally, Onyx; I can’t really figure him out. He’s always so closed; keeping everything to himself. Well from me at any rate. I wish I knew him better.
The other day, I saw him talking to a man in the yard. I’d never seen this man before, and was a bit leery at first. I wanted to charge over and put some distance between Onyx and this stranger, but I got the impression that Onyx knew him, so I watched from a distance. They talked for a short time and the man left.
“Who was that?” I asked, approaching Onyx as the man left.
“Oh…umm… just some guy from town looking for his lost…umm…pup,” he stammered as he rushed into the house, pushing past Smoky who had stepped onto the porch.
Why is it so hard for the two of us to communicate? I can do things with the other boys; well, not so much with Smoky anymore. Onyx does things with his brothers; go to the beach, movies, etc.; but always seems to find a reason not to do anything with me.
“What was that all about?” I asked aloud, not really directing the question at Smoky.
“Wouldn’t you like to know,” Smoky said just loud enough for me to hear as he walked by.
I don’t know if I will ever understand these teenagers. El has been so busy with the girls; I’ve had to keep track of the boys. As the weeks passed, the girls would sleep more, allowing El and I to spend some time together while the boys were in school. We would enjoy a cool glass of nectar or play a board game.
Before we knew it, the girls’ first birthday was upon us. El had been so busy, she completely forgot about it, so we just planned to have the family. All of the boys came home right after school, except Smoky. The others did not know where he was.
He finally arrived home as El was getting ready to put the cakes in the refrigerator so the icing wouldn’t drip any further. I went outside to greet him.
“Where have you been?” I asked calmly.
“I had things to do,” was his reply.
I lost it. How much more of this attitude was I supposed to endure?
“You knew your mother wanted to have a party for the girls and yet you come sauntering in like you don’t care. I’m not putting up with this from you any longer, do you hear me?” I yelled, feeling the veins pulsating on my forehead.
He stepped back, unsure of how to react. I had never yelled at any of the boys before. After collecting himself, he righted himself and began his own tirade.
“Since when do either of you care what we do? You’re so busy with your business and Mom is always with the girls. We don’t matter anymore,” he seethed.
“That’s not true and you know it. We still have time for all of you. You’d better watch yourself, or…” I was so irate, I couldn’t continue. I needed to walk away and cool down, especially since Dawn began to squirm uncomfortably in my arms.
“Or what; you’ll kick me out; kick us out? Go ahead! I dare you! I won’t look back, either!”
I walked away, feeling like I had just been punched in the stomach. I had almost told him I would send him packing. I had never felt so angry before; and ashamed; ashamed that I would even think about tossing my children out. They would be leaving of their own accord soon enough.
“I thought so!” he calmly replied.
He went up to his room and did not stay for the girls’ party, saying something about a ton of homework. It’s just as well. This way was awkward, but had he stayed, the tension would have been too much for either El or me to bear.
Trying to push those thoughts from my head, I took Dawn to the cake. Everyone sang Happy Birthday and I blew out the candles. She cooed, as if saying her wish aloud.
El swapped the girls with me and I got the honor of blowing out Abbey’s candles also.
The girls were so cute; I could imagine having to stave off the boys with big sticks. They would prove to be trouble at one, getting into everything they shouldn’t. They appeared to be more curious and more active than the boys were. Perhaps it had just been so long since the boys were this small, that I forgot. I could only hope this wasn’t a sign of things to come in later years.
It took some time getting the house childproofed, but we were able finally able to rest easy that the girls would get into too much trouble.
It wasn’t too long before El and I started to feel the pangs of old age creeping up on us. We hoped we could retain a little of our youthful vigor by throwing a party for ourselves. We only invited Val and Cinder and their kids. Their kids had plans, but neither of us really wanted a houseful of people anyway. All of the boys were there as well; even Smoky, although he didn’t show any signs of participating or enjoying himself.
Ella insisted on having separate cakes. We each need to blow out our own candles or our wishes won’t come true, she reasoned. I thought it was a bunch of hooey, but kept my mouth closed. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, least of all hers.
We each took turns making our wishes and blowing out the candles. I truly hope El is right, and my wish comes true. We’ll have to wait and see, I suppose.
As everyone grabbed a plate of cake, Smoky sat at the table and did his homework in defiance. I really wanted us to get past this, but this was not the time. The rest of us ate cake and had fun.
Val and Cinder left shortly after having cake, needing to tend to their own herd of bipedal miscreants. I jest; their children are good kids. They have similar issues with their kids, too. Rum and Coal both anti-people; Windsor and Dusty; and Smoky and Violet are both rebellious of late. Val mentioned Vi getting in trouble once or twice.
As we cleaned up, Smoky still sat there doing his homework. El kept throwing me glances as if to tell me to do something about it. I tried not to notice; it would just ruin the evening for everyone else.
Lying in bed that night, El asked me why I let him slide.
“You could just as easily say something el. His is your son, too,” regretting having spoken the words before she could even reply.
“That’s true, but you know how the girls keep me busy,” she replied defensively.
“We’re losing them, El!” I said, pretending not to have heard what she said. “Smoky’s only the first one; I’m afraid we’re pushing them out sooner than we wanted.”
With that, I turned away from her and closed my eyes, silently regretting some of the decisions I’d made over the years.