Strangely, both my mother and Kendall’s mother have brothers who are 14 years younger than them—the same age range between Leah and Charlie. I think I’ve mentioned the family lore I grew up with that my grandmother had practically reached a biblical age when she suddenly found herself pregnant with my Uncle Paul, like it was some kind of biological miracle. It wasn’t until I was an adult when I did the math and was shocked to discover she was only 38 when my uncle was born! Although a 14-year age span is huge during childhood (my 5-year-old uncle was the ring boy at my parents’ wedding), there will come a time for Leah, as there did for our moms, when their little brothers catch up and they are all adults together with common sibling experiences.
My sister and I are two years apart but because I skipped a grade we had classes together in high school and many of the same friends. We’ve been very close all of our lives (when we weren’t trying to kill each other) and talk to each other almost daily. We used to tell people that we were twins and many believed us. Lots of people think I’m the older sibling which always irritated me. My brother Bruce is five years older than me and as a kid that put him in a different world. I admired him and longed to be like him but it seemed as if he was from a different generation—the tail end of the hippies (even though he was only 15 during the Summer of Love) while I was coughing up the final dredges of the Baby Boom era and clearing the way for the more dominant Generation X.
I can’t wait to see how Leah’s relationship with her little brother develops. Leah came with me to the NICU this morning and while she isn’t yet allowed to hold Charlie, his stats always do a happy dance when his sister is around. Leah has her 8th grade finals this week and will be entering high school in the fall. It’s hard to believe that she’ll be off to college before Charlie even starts school.
At the risk of infuriating her 14-year-old self, my daughter is one of the most brilliant, beautiful, compassionate people I know. Also one of the most talented. She has appeared in over 30 musicals and will no doubt help me introduce Charlie to the full canon of American musical theatre. (That education has already begun, especially now that we’re allowed to hold him every day. Today I left Rodgers & Hammerstein and began teaching him the songs of Jule Styne.)
But, after talking about our son Oliver’s Broadway theme song, I never told you about Charlie’s. While there may be some Charlie Brown in my son (Leah has starred in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” twice—once as Lucy and once as Snoopy), the song we always thought of for Charlie is from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” which Leah appeared in last year. At that time, before he was born, we had no idea how appropriate the song “Cheer up, Charlie” would be for our little boy: