When he was a very little boy, he had a round sweet face and huge blue eyes and was shy around an aunt he didn't see very often, could snap his head in the direction she wasn't and hold that pose like a statue until she went away and he could go back to his toys. He had odd eating preferences, like you'd have to tear up a piece of American cheese into squares and arrange them around the edge of a plate and put a bun in the middle and that's all he would eat. Rarely, he would misbehave just a little at the dinner table, would want to stand on his stool or something, and when that did occur, his dad would have to muster up some sternness and order him firmly to sit down. This was not a natural voice for the dad, but it had to be done.
A few years later, when his little sister was helping absorb some of the attention, the boy became a bit more animated, and like his dad was fascinated with cars. On Saturday nights when his mom had to work, he would call Grandma to say "We're tomin' over," and when they arrived his dad would fall asleep in an easy chair so he'd grab some other people to play car on the little sofa in the spare room. Every couple of minutes that old sofa would blow a tire, so we'd stop the couch and he would jump off to change the tire. Once, when he asked Grandma to help him, she said girls don't do that sort of work, which made the aunt crazy, so she got down on the carpet and cranked on the jack and loosened bolts. (The little sister, by the way, also beautiful. She looked just like Cindy Lou Who, the sweet little girl with the blonde ponytail who didn't mistrust the Grinch as he was stealing the family Christmas tree.)
Soon the boy became interested in computers, and was very smart at learning the games and keyboard shortcuts and so on. One time his sister was playing a game and needed a prompt about which key would do such and such. He was doing a puzzle with Grandpa but could answer quickly -- F8 -- without even looking up. Grandpa is wild about that story.
Suddenly, it came time for this young man, no longer the least bit round in the face nor at all shy, to register for his first semester of classes at the fine university in Fargo, North Dakota, and while his mom and dad tried not to think about him moving away, the rest of us tried to figure out how this little boy had grown up when the rest of us aged only a year or two.
Thank you for reading.