Peter Britten 3.5

July 11, 2020

It caught me by surprise, because I’d always been the ever-popular Mama, whose arrival in the room was heralded with loud hosannas. If Steve or the older sibs were shunned, I didn’t really register it.

But I remember going through something similar with your big bro Aiden at ages 1-2 or so. I’ve gained a whole new appreciation for the Hurt Feelings I know they experienced. Ditto my Mom, who was with us in Lewes the summer young P.J. decided he did NOT like her. Sorry, Mom, for dismissing your tears, for encouraging you to brush it off, to remember he was still little. I have gotten my comeuppance for sure. 

Even if I were not relatively thin-skinned, I would have been crushed by the daily (non) greeting I received for nearly a year: I would enter the room each morning, and you would say, “Go away, Nana!!!!” accentuating your comment by pushing me away with your tiny hands, David vanquishing Nana Goliath (who truly meant no harm). 

 When did things change for us? 

It was a gradual thawing of Cold War tensions. One fine day you refrained from shoving me out of your line of sight (Victory #1!). Then, weeks later, you allowed me to talk to you without protest (I still treated you as I would a skittish young deer I was trying to befriend). It was one step forward and two back for us, my little dance partner: just when I thought we’d sealed the friendship deal, you’d level a steely gaze my way, and once more I’d have to prove myself to you. 

 I don’t know if it’s our current enforced togetherness, but all is really good with us these days. You not only let me kiss you, you sometimes initiate the smooch! Which is extra-meaningful now that I am not allowed to embrace anyone outside our immediate circle. I watch you at play with Aiden (who you usually call Gege, Chinese for big brother), or serenely occupying yourself at the dining room table with playdoh or sand or paper and markers, and memories of your Evan Shushu come right back to me.

Like you, Ev guarded his Door of Intimacy zealously, not letting many pass through—me and Dad (usually), Sheridan (always), Rose (rarely). Ev was a man of few words, but, like E.F. Hutton, when he talked, people listened. Evan at 33 is still an enigma wrapped in a mystery in large part. While I feel closer to him than ever (ironic, since he now lives 3000 miles away), there’s still that reserve. I can easily envision you, my Peter B., acting the same three decades hence (not that I will likely still be kicking around, but I can hope). 

What will the world be like in September, when you turn four? All bets are off. But for now, I will treasure our new bond, and thank God that you are with us, with your beautiful, inscrutable face, and equally beautiful heart.


    I am an author (of four books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

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