We sent One to the beach last Saturday, to vacation with Nonni, Aunt Jen, and his young cousins. Grandpa and Uncle Sean were there for the weekend, but then they had to return home for work. So, my graduate has been the man of the house.
Usually, we all travel down together, and One is Nonni's co-pilot. He's generally unflappable, which has proven to be invaluable when driving with her through excessive traffic, or raging thunderstorms. Last year, her car broke down, and he rubbed her leg while they waited in the Shop-Rite parking lot for the tow truck. This year, however, Nonni was joining Jen and Sean a full week prior to our vacation, which meant no co-pilot. She was understandably disappointed, so I suggested she just take One with her.
We all had initial concerns, because One is lacking life skills. I take full responsibility for my failure in this area, and routinely beat myself up about it. He's made progress over the years, but I knew there was no way he'd be evenly applying sunscreen all over his body, or cooking his own dinner, which added to Aunt Jen's responsibilities. Fortunately, Aunt Jen is One's Godmother, and, next to his parents, his staunchest supporter. God save the unfortunate soul that speaks ill of her nephew. Aunt Jen is an Italian-American woman who loves Jesus, but is slow to forgive.
I told One the two rules he had to follow while at the shore: he could only go in the ocean directly in front of the lifeguard stand, and he had to help Aunt Jen and Nonni with the children. Judging by the updates I've received, he is performing admirably on both counts. The little ones have been thrilled to have their eldest boy cousin with them. He's kept a vigilant eye on them in the water, and they've made iPad movies with him at night. And I think it's been a nice change of pace for One to be the big man of the house. At home, he has to live with Two and Three, who know more about the world than he does, and will reach many of life's milestones before him.
But One is easy-going, and these things don't seem to bother him. Every so often he likes to remind his brothers of the pecking order, which is his right. I'm glad he's had this time away from us, to just be himself, with people who love him. When we arrive on Saturday, I'm not certain he'll willingly move into the giant Victorian with us! But I do know that when we leave, Nonni will have her co-pilot, and One will have his memories of the summer he went on vacation "alone."