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The Bonds Of Shared Experience

We drove over an hour to the mall today, the boys and I. Kit and Doc had never been to a mall before and seeing all those stores indoors, with a merry-go-round and food court, was an overload especially for Doc. Tio wanted to buy clothes and Kit was set on a single ear piercing. But when we got to the jewelers, he was having doubts. He wanted it bad, just wasn’t sure about “having it done”.

He backed away from the hole punch, but didn't call it off either. The man behind the weapon was very kind and walked us through it explaining that it would only feel like a pinch and wouldn’t last, etc.. Kit was getting in a real panic, caught between real fear and genuine desire. I said we should just forget it. That made him wail louder.

POW! The stapler zapped his ear and left a pretty gold stud with a blue stone in it’s place. The poor boy was distraught and elated all at once. He’d survived to tell the tale and he had what he’d always wanted planted in his ear. Tio, who’d been watching and goading the whole time, paid him the highest compliment I’ve ever heard him utter to his younger brother, “You got balls. I’ll give you that.” Later on he even shook Kit’s hands still impressed that he actually went through with it. It was a bonding moment between them.

Near the end of the day, Doc decided to run off and hide in a huge electronics store. Fortunately, I had both other boys on all eyes duty so he was never out of anyone’s sight for more than a few seconds. Tio ran after him and I headed him off before he got far. I grabbed his shirt front and pulled him up so short and fast that it rattled his five year old brains. “Don’t you ever, ever, ever, run off from me in public. Do you understand! You will never play hide and seek or think its fun to get chased around in a public place. If you do it again I will leave you at home for all time and never take you on a trip again. Do you UNDERSTAND?” The words shot out between my clenched angry teeth accompanied by narrowed eyes and a hard fistful of shirt balled up under his quavering chin. A gulping nod, bulging frightened eyes, and completely limp arms and legs told me the point had been made. Losing one of them in a strange place was the one terror that lives at the bottom of my guts and I told him that my fierceness about this was fear for his safety. It didn’t matter if he didn’t understand that last point as long as he knew Grampy showed more anger at this than anything else he’d seen before.

We walked quietly down the aisle and met up with Tio. “Did Grampy grab you by the shirt and shake you, Doc?” he asked with a grin. “Welcome to the club. I remember when he did that to me. I think we were in a bookstore. I never did it again.”

Back in the CD department we caught up with Kit. Tio told him what happened. “Did Grampy shake you by the shirt?” Kit asked knowingly and demonstrated exactly what I’d done on his own shirt. “I ran off in the grocery store and hid. When I jumped out, he gave it to me. I think I was five.”

“Me, too.” Tio said and they both exchanged their war stories about it with Doc to make him feel better and understand why Grampy did that. I smiled, inwardly glad to see that my lesson had stuck so strongly. It meant Doc would keep hold of it, too. He’d clearly just passed an important initiation test that the older boys were proud to share.

It’s days like this that strengthen the bond between all three of them. They’re starting to look after each other as much as I am.