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My Children
By Verna Elaine Ririe
(From NETWORK, the family newsletter,
volume 1, November 1996)

I was asked by the editor-in-chief to write a little bit about each of my children. What an easy assignment!

Paul was born June 20, 1966. I started keeping a journal when he started to talk just to write down all the clever things he said. At first I thought I was just a proud Mother but as I have had and known other small children I think my pride in his linguistic accomplishment was justified. His first word was helicopter. When he was about six years old his Grandpa Ririe came to visit him. They were sitting together on the couch watching TV when Paul said, "Grandpa, I would sure like a root beer." Grandpa took him to the store and the returned with a case of root beer. After they had polished off most of it, Paul said, "Grandpa I would sure like some candy." So Grandpa took him out and they returned with a couple of pounds of salt water taffy. After most of that was gone, Paul said, "Grandpa, I really love doughnuts." So, soon they were sitting on the couch polishing off the last of a dozen doughnuts. Later in the evening we were sitting visiting when Paul leaned over his Grandpa's leg, opened his mouth and threw up a case of root beer, two pounds of taffy and a dozen doughnuts. As I hurried to grab towels and clean up, Dad just sat on the couch shaking his head and muttering, "I can't imagine what is wrong with that boy, He seemed just fine this afternoon when I got here."

Michael was born April, 8, 1971. He was a large, happy, good baby. At about the age of two, Michael developed a tremendous interest in and aptitude for mathematics. My Doctor suggested that I give him a penny every time he successfully used his potty chair. The first time he seemed pretty happy with the coin but in a little while he came to me again and indicated he needed to use the potty. As he sat down, I said, "If you can go in the potty, I will give you another penny." He looked up and replied, "How about a nickel?" I gave up on that approach, figuring I would need to be writing him a check within a week.

Steven was our first Texas baby, born February 25, 1976. He was also our first child to sleep through the night in less than one year. It happened when he was about six weeks old. Brent and I woke up at seven in the morning. I said, "Did you get up with the baby?" He said, "No, did you?" We immediately jumped out of bed and ran into Steven's room, convinced he was a victim of crib death. When he was about two months old, he developed a horrible rash over most of his body. Finally, I called one of the neighbors to come and try to help me figure out what to do. When she saw him, she started laughing. She said it was the worst case of heat rash she had ever seen and then informed me that unlike babies in Utah, Texas babies did not need night shirts, long nightgowns or socks to keep warm. My mother in law insisted on sending me some of each with each of our babies and stacks of baby blankets which are still unused. Steven loved the lawnmower and when we moved to Austin when he was about two he pushed it all the way down the driveway and into the moving van to make sure it went with us.

Sarah was born in Austin, June 26, 1978. She was premature. We were so excited to have a girl, assuming they would somehow be different from boys. The only difference I noticed was that when she snuck away from the house to spend her penny at the comer grocery, she wore my high heels while riding on her Big Wheel. My good neighbor used to find her out on the busy street and return her two or three times a week. She seldom slept longer than an hour for the first several months. She's now sixteen [eighteen at time of publication] and making up her sleep debt quite nicely.

Catherine was born almost exactly two years later on June 23, 1980. She was a calm, good natured baby. As she grew, she became more and more like her Mother. She used to hide under the piano to entertain herself either lighting matches or cutting her hair. We don't have a decent photo of her until she was about four. When she was in kindergarten, she didn't come home after school, so after a half hour or so, I went looking for her. She had stayed after school and signed herself up to join the Brownie Scouts. Later she admitted that they were giving away dolls if you became a member but then they ran out and she was really irritated, but she finished the year anyway. About the same time we ran out of sugar for her cereal so she just went in the closet and drug out a 25 lb. bag from food storage and got enough in the sugar bowl for her morning treat.

Gregory Matthew was born November 18, 1985. I had him C-section so was kind of out of it when he was born. The doctor said, "You have a boy." My first thought was--another Cub Scout!! Then the doctor brought him around so I could see him and I said, "You know, we don't have a name picked out but now that I see him, it is obvious we should call him Bubba." When he was two and a half, I was ironing one day when I heard a loud crash. I ran all over the house and finally outside. He had gotten my keys, started our Suburban, and driven it into the fence. He promised me he wouldn't drive until he was sixteen. Another day, I thought he was with Brent, Brent thought he was with me and finally we realized he was gone and after looking for him for half an hour, discovered him locked in Brent's closet, patiently sitting on the floor waiting to be rescued.

Of course there are millions more of these little vignettes but I think I have chosen one about each child that illustrates their personality. What a job and what a joy!

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