"Or maybe it's just me who's crankier," she muttered.
Robby was still devoted to his father. He greeted Jeremy everyday when he got home from work--running clear out to the sidewalk from wherever he was playing. Gillian had told Jeremy he'd best enjoy it because once Robby became a teenager there was no guaranteeing that he'd want to be with his dad as much, if at all. So Jeremy did try to spending as much time with Robby as he could, but he also made a renewed effort to give attention to Ryan, who would be having a birthday soon.
Many people said that in Pleasantview babies, like vampires, always seemed to show up after dark. The new twins, Stephen and Sabrina, were no exception in that regard. In fact it was the very middle of the night when Gillian experienced those familiar pains.
"Well, Mom wanted six grandchildren--then she upped it to an even dozen," Gillian grinned at Jeremy as they cuddled the new babies, "All I can say is I've done my part. I love all four of our children, but I'm ready to say 'enough' after this."
Ryan might have seemed cranky to Gillian at times, but most family and friends who knew him thought he was very amiable, though quieter than Robby. He could get upset at times but it was really because he lived in his imagination so much and focused so hard at play that reality intruding could unnerve him a bit.
Early on he showed a definite preference for any animal toys like his "horsie", and he absolutely adored his teddy bear. He never mishandled, hit or chewed on "Blue Bear", as he called him, and for a toddler that was very good indeed.
Time went by, Gillian was very busy with Ryan and the babies. Jeremy and Robby did more bonding. When it was at last time for Ryan's birthday Gillian cuddled him and helped him blow out the candles.
Now that he was of age, Ryan couldn't wait to begin school and go on the bus with his brother. He was excited that he could play games with Robby, too. The very first day of school he brought home a new friend with him, Liara Hammond. She was quiet and a little shy, like Ryan was with strangers, but once he got to know her he'd found she was a lot of fun and they played at the activity table and then had a game of Paper-Rock-Scissors. Spaghetti with meatballs was what Gillian usually served for supper when the boys had friends over, the other favorite was macaroni and cheese, of course.
Later that same week Robby brought home a friend of his own--it was Loni Faye, Liara's big sister, who had been over to the house before.
Gillian said that supper would be late tonight so the kids could get some snacks from the refrigerator. Robby knew she was probably thinking along the lines of an apple or a jello cup, but all three of them were really hungry and there was leftover cherry cheesecake and part of a butter cake with chocolate frosting. So he served up the desserts to his brother and his schoolfriend.
Afterward Loni Faye said with a particularly sweet smile that she couldn't think of a better supper--how clever of Robby. He had a little bit of a crush on her so when she said that to him his face grew pink and he tried to think of another way to impress her. Whispering in her ear he suggested that they play "Red Hands". Ryan thought that whenever Robby glanced at Loni Faye his expression was decidedly stupid, but he kept his opinion to himself for the time being.
After all, Ryan liked Loni Faye fine and he liked Liara, too, but come on--they were girls. Girls could be fun to play with, but to Ryan they were kind of silly at times. What was wrong with Robby, anyway? Ryan didn't say anything to Gillian or Jeremy so they could not explain to him that Robby was growing up, that was all.
Now, Loni Faye was a very neat and orderly child (as well as outgoing and precocious) and before going home she visited the guest bathroom at the Blackford house. Not only did she use the toilet, she also took a shower to wash off the day's grime and then wiped down the shower stall afterward and scrubbed the sink.
Robby quickly hugged her goodbye just as her mother's car pulled up out front, which disgusted Ryan so thoroughly he went upstairs to go to bed early, making gagging noises as he went.
"That little girl cleaned the shower and sink better than the maid," Gillian told Jeremy later that night.
"I'm surprised she didn't mop the floor," he laughed.
"There wasn't a mop handy, or she probably would have. I can't tell if she's just well brought up or obsessive-compulsive, but as far as I'm concerned Robby can bring her here any time he wants."
Gillian decided to start her Christmas shopping the next week. She was most surprised to see her Aunt Heather working behind the cash register at Inner Child Toys, but Heather said she was squirreling away as much money as possible to cover side expenses when Scotti Lynn went off to college. She and Scott had a fund for Scotti Lynn's tuition and books, of course, but this extra cash would give her spending money and extra clothes.
Unfortunately for Gillian, Heather was still very new at being a cashier and took a long time to check Gillian out that day. On the bright side, Gillian was able to purchase a lot of items for the kids. Now she would have to figure out a new place to hide them. She was pretty sure that Robby had found where they were in the back of the master bedroom closet last year. Things had looked disturbed when she went to wrap the gifts. Maybe she'd try the attic, tucked behind one of the big trunks--and wrapping them first would probably not be a bad idea, either. She'd also have to warn her oldest son that she was aware he'd snooped in the past and it had better not happen again. Not if he wanted to have some of the things on his Christmas list, anyway. Yes, she definitely was the one who was getting crankier, she decided, it must "hormones-gone-crazy-due-to-having-twins" syndrome. She'd have to get advice from her sister, Margo...
Saturday morning breakfasts were usually a big family meal of pancakes or omelets, but this morning Gillian was busy bathing babies and the men in the family had to fend for themselves. So they ate left-over pancakes and omelets. Jeremy told Gillian he thought it was important that Robby and Ryan should learn how to prepare meals using the microwave anyway. She rolled her eyes and said,
Later that same day they celebrated Robby's birthday with cake and presents. He got a new laptop, a stamp collection, a soldering gun, some new clothes in the right size and a new TV and video game player for his bedroom.
It was a great birthday he thought and he hugged his mother on his way upstairs to check himself out in the mirror. Washing his hair and using a blow dryer he was pretty happy with the outcome, same hair style, just fluffier, really. He wondered how Loni Faye's birthday would be and how she would change--he knew it was coming pretty soon.
Robby changed things around in the bedroom he shared with Ryan, who was all about science, space and science fiction, while Robby was all about sports. He did still love quiet pursuits, though, like stamp collecting and learning to craft things and tinker--learning what makes things tick. So he kept his interests mostly to his side of the room and Ryan had all his space stuff on the other side. They met in the middle with their desks.
Ryan and Jeremy went up to the third floor to play the pinball machines there. When Robby could tear himself away from the mirror he sat on the floor in his bedroom to play a sports video game on his new player. Just because he could. Later Gillian joined Ryan and Jeremy on the third floor where her sewing machine was. If she worked at it maybe she would become good enough to sew outfits for the twins when they became toddlers.
Next blog update: Shep Ferguson Ch. 10 Margo Ferguson Candeloro