After Lucas' initial jealousy he quite quickly became the big brother his parents hoped he would be. He would bring the baby toys, read to him and generally include Sam in everything he was doing. One might think this was all a good thing but on the whole it was a bit nerve racking to both Abby and Tim who were otherwise quite laid back. The problem was that the small 6 year old would try to carry or lift the baby that was actually too big for him to handle well. Therefore they couldn't leave the baby alone for even a few seconds as Lucas would have the baby whisked away for another adventure. He had no interest in waiting until Sam was actually big enough to participate.
When they tried on many occasions to explain that the baby was to stay exactly where they put him Lucas would answer "But he wants to come and how am I supposed to be a good big brother if I leave him out" and their argument died on their lips.
Summer was fast coming to a close and Abby was doing a bit of shopping to get Luc a few new things for school. He was going to be in grade 1 this year and so he was going to big kids school. As Abby looked at the racks of clothes trying to decide what size to buy, Luc was taking Sam around the store in his stroller. On several occasions Abby grabbed the handle and stopped the runaway buggy as Luc was unable to see over the handle. "Luc please stop… I just need to look at a few things… just sit in front of Sam and tell him a story… I can't have you two knocking over people or shelves." Her voice slightly ragged but her pace was still at break neck speed.
"But mommy he likes going for a ride" Luc whined.
"I know Bear but if you run into something or someone then either or both of you could be hurt" Abby explained without looking at her children but continued to hold up the different sizes of pants to each other. As she turned to hold the pants against her eldest child she was looking at nothing. The stroller wasn't there and neither was Luc. Her job meant that she did not have a normal view of the world and to her everyone was out to get you, or at least out to get her children. She quickly scanned the store and found the boys sitting in the 'play' center Luc filling up the stroller seat around his brother with large building blocks. Sam was barely old enough to smile, but he did it every time his brother was there.
She found it hard to scold him when his heart was in the right place and he was just trying to keep the baby happy for her. Holding the different choices up against his little body she finally decided on the few items he needed and the three proceeded to the checkout line. Being that there was only a few days before school started the line was long and Abby was not the only hurried mother trying to keep her children in sight while she waited to pay.
The happy go lucky Abby was tried to keep Luc in view and Sam rocking in the stroller as they waited. The older woman ahead of her in line struck up a conversation by saying "My grandson starts school for the first time next week. He's so excited. I thought I would buy him a new outfit to start school."
"That's nice" Abby said not really meaning it but being polite. Luc returned again from his short foray into the change room and looked between his mother and the older lady. "Oh is this your little boy as well?" the lady asked. Luc's eyes flashed with anger, he may be small but he hated being called little. "Yes this is my son Lucas" Abby answered looking around the woman to see how close they were to the cashier. "How old are you little fella?" the older woman continued. Lucas who in general was polite and well mannered had an inclination to have his mouth run away from him whenever his temper flared answered the woman in a completely surly tone "I am 6 years old I will have you know."
The older woman taken back by the child's tone as well as surprised that he was as old as he said he was looking far more like he was 4 than 6. "Well… I never… there must be something wrong with him… he's far too small to be healthy… 6 year olds are WAY bigger than that" the woman sneered at Abby "haven't you taken him to a doctor a child like that … failure to thrive…"
The Abby without children would have exploded in this woman's face, but trying to be a good role model for her son she simply ignored the comments, took Lucas by the hand and marched out of the store leaving the unpaid for merchandise on the wrong shelf by the door.
Abby stormed the length of the mall towards the car Lucas having to almost run to keep up with her. By the time she demanded that he hold her hand to cross the parking lot he was crying. "I'm sorry I was rude mommy… I'm sorry" thinking their exit was about his outburst. Now he didn't have any new clothes to wear to school and his mommy was angry.
"Climb in the car Luc we'll talk about it at home" she was too angry and upset, not at the boy but at the woman to say the appropriate things to her son. Strapping the baby in his car seat, folding the stroller and putting it the trunk she watched as Lucas did as he was told but never took his eyes off of her or what she was doing.
Forgetting their little "are you safe" ritual that they always did to remind everyone about seat belts Abby sped out of the parking lot and most of the way home. By the time she pulled into the driveway she had gotten control of her emotions and when she asked Luc to get into the house her tone was much kinder. Sam had fallen asleep on the way home and so she simply carried him in with the car seat and set him in the living room. She had to go hunt for Luc who was nowhere to be found in the house.
Like when Tony had found him Luc was sitting curled up in his fort. Abby crawled in and scooped him up into her arms holding him tight. "I love you very much Lucas Mckenzie Garret just the way you are!"
Confused by her reaction and tone Luc hesitantly asked "you ok mommy?"
"Yes… yes.. I'm fine ..are you ok?" she asked in return.
"I am if you are" he answered looking at her face. She hadn't said anything about him losing his temper or talking back or anything. He was a little confused as there wasn't a single person in his family that wasn't adamant that he be polite and courteous to everyone all the time.
When she finally set him down on the floor he inquired "Do I not get to have new clothes for school 'cause I was rude?" looking at his hands twisting in each other rather than at his mother's face.
Abby scrunched up her face in confusion and then realized that Luc had been a haze of anger of his own about being called little that he hadn't registered anything else the woman had said or that Abby was actually angry at her and not him. Picking him up again she cuddled him close while she reassured him that although his behavior was not appropriate that he was forgiven and that he would still get new clothes but she would return to the store alone when dad got home from work.
Tim arrived home to a still fuming Abby and he had a hard time convincing her that everything was indeed 'ok' with their son. What the woman at the store hadn't realized is she'd hit on a very sore point. Abby had been concerned from day one about Lucas. He was born small and continued to be small despite the fact that both she and Tim were quite tall. The doctors had all reassured her that he was fine and growing well, that some tall parents have shorter kids. Nothing to worry about. But a mother of an 8 week old who is sleep deprived and frustrated doesn't always listen to reason. Tim sent her out to pick up the few things she left without purchasing and told her to take her time. They were going to have a boys night in.
Eyeing her husband questioningly she finally agreed after checking the supply of milk she had in the freezer for Sam. Tim lovingly shoo'd her out the door with a light kiss and then turned to his sons.
"Ok boys what are we going to order for supper?" Tim asked to the room at large. Luc's eyes grew wide and a smile spread across his face. "Take out for supper?" he asked making sure he'd heard correctly. Abby wasn't into eating take out as it wasn't healthy and you always had to eat healthy so it was only rarely that Luc got to eat junk food and it was mostly with Uncle Tony.
Luc poured over the take out menus discussing the pros and cons of each choice with Sam before he stated that they had come to an agreement on Wing House. Tim smiled whenever Luc would declare that he and Sam had agreed on something. The 2 month old could barely hold his head up for more than a few second let alone make a choice about supper plans.
Eating wings, fries and milkshakes they sat around the kitchen table their fingers covered in sauce and ketchup. Tim decided this was the best time to bring up the subject of school. "So you excited about starting grade 1?" he asked excitedly.
"Nope" Luc answered matter of factly.
"Aw com'on Luc it will be different this year. It is 'real' school now, big kids school, math and reading kind of school." Tim was explaining in tone he generally saved for pep talking the baby.
"Dad… school is boring and we don't actually get to learn anything… so I don't see the point… why I can't I just keep learning here… you taught me lots last year when you got home from work… " his words getting more and more whiny.
"Because it's going to be different this year… you'll see" Tim said with some degree of finality that signaled that the conversation was over.
The year before had not been stellar. Luc had entered kindergarten knowing how to read, add and subtract. Which meant that when the teacher was trying to teach the other children to recognize the letters in their name Luc was reading the magic tree house novels and when the teacher was teaching the children the numbers from 1 to 10 Luc was reading the magic tree house novels. By Christmas time there were no more magic tree house novels and Luc's mouth kept getting him into trouble; sarcasm in a 5 year old doesn't go over very well.
Abby and Tim had both discussed with Luc that they felt he needed to stay at school in the kindergarten class because it was a great opportunity to meet the other kids and socialize and learn how to be a good friend. And that those were the goals of kindergarten. Luc generally rolled his eyes at these conversations but went to school each day hoping that maybe he would get to learn something and everyday being disappointed that he didn't. Tim had then started "night school" on evenings he was home early enough to teach something new to his son. He wrote a computer program that ran mini spelling bees and math quizzes for the nights he wasn't there. Luc like his parents was extremely smart and his thirst for knowledge was not being quenched at school. Tim was fearful of pushing his son too hard and so he only worked with Luc when asked. He installed the program and told Luc that it was there if he wanted it.
This year Abby and Tim had high hopes. They had gotten Lucas assigned to a split grade 1 / 2 class in hopes that if the grade 1 material wasn't exciting enough that he could 'eavesdrop' on the older kids work. During the many conversations about school neither parent could get the 6 year old enthused about school no matter what they said.