Thursday, May 24, 2012

The End of an Era

Today, I cried just a little.

My "seventh" son hopped out of our van, smiled, and said, "Bye" and "Thanks" for the last time.

He grinned all the way up to the house as shouts (screams really) of goodbyes followed him.

I'm gonna miss that kid.

Three years ago his parents were in a pickle.  I barely knew the family, but I heard that they were going to have to pull their youngest out of our school because they couldn't find a ride home for him each day.  (Our school doesn't have bus service, and aftercare only allows kids up to fifth grade.)  I discovered that their house was just a hop and a skip (not even a jump) off of our route home, so I offered to take him home each day.

I have taken him home almost every day since. 

With a busy family like ours, we don't go directly home every day.  One day a week Buttercup (and later Giant) have piano.  Some days we have a few errands to run.  This boy came with us everywhere we went.  The grocery store, the library, the playground, the post office.  I thought I got looks from strangers before, but man, when a person walks through an establishment with six boys in tow (this boy looks a heck of a lot like my own kids), heads will turn and comments will fly.

I've told my kids in jest that this boy was the nicest one that I had.  Not once did he get into a bickering match with anyone in the car.  Not once did he get snippy with me.  He laughed when I said something funny.  And he didn't hit me very hard when he saw a VW slug bug.

He read books to the little boys.  He played tag, kickball, and basketball with everyone.  He gave Phoenix a heads up about teachers and assignments he would get the following year in school.  (He is only one year older that Phoenix.) 

As a soccer player himself, he and the kids would always have a game roundup on Monday afternoons.  Many times he actually reffed Giant's games.  After the first time it happened, we had to tell Giant that it probably wasn't a good idea to go give the ref a high five and have a laugh during half time.

We really knew that this boy was part of our family when last year's Christmas program came along.  The entire middle school paraded onto stage, including both Buttercup and Phoenix.  Cuckoo jumped up and started hollering, "There's my other brother!  Look, there he is!"  He didn't even keep looking for his actual siblings.

Every Friday I take the kids for Happy Hour milkshakes at Steak-n-Shake for an end of the school week celebration.  Every Friday this boy gets a chocolate shake without toppings.  And enjoys it thoroughly. 

Today was the last day that I will get to take this boy home.   (I did warn him, though, that I may just show up at his high school next year at pick-up time with all six kids hanging out the doors and windows yelling for him to get into the van.  Just 'cause I'll miss him.)  I decided to move our Friday celebration up a day and have an extra-special treat.  I surprised them with a trip to Cold Stone Creamery. 

Everyone placed their orders and dug in.

Buttercup had a bit of chocolate heaven.

Turken tried some mint.

Notice the kid in the middle and what he got. 

The boy we've been taking home for three years ordered a milk shake. 

Because he doesn't like ice cream.

Yup, we really got to know each other well.

Hope you all enjoy this graduation season!

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