Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Thing About Gavin

I love this picture. I think it captures the true personalities of this group so well. Lauren's fussing over the children - she's such a mom, and always so Alpha. Bailey's being a goof, and pandering shamelessly to Lauren's fussing. Sara's sneaking in, leaning on Bay - seeking a little cover in case she chooses to hide at the last minute. Sean? Sean's so delicious. He makes more of complaining about whatever the thing is than the thing actually requires in time or effort. But he always intends to do it anyway and he knows you know that. Sam's a hunk when he's not trying, and a total cheeseball when he is. This picture grabs both of those pieces. Lucy's on the end, trying to be above it all but as close as she can be to everyone because she knows she belongs right here. And then there's Gavin.

The thing about Gavin is he gives off this sense of being at ease, which he likely is in this pic, surrounded by all these people who love him so much, but he's way more intense than you'd ever imagine by just looking at him. He's got ambitious dreams, and whether he shows it or chooses to hide it from you, he's working hard to make those dreams reachable.

He doesn't always trust that his hard work is worth it, not sure it earns him the benefits he's seeking. That, even if it requires some urging, makes him work harder. It is paying off and it does matter, of course.

The thing about Gavin is that even when he's not trying to be the center of attention (rare, but it happens) he still draws you in with his easy grin and innate warmth. He's got teenage swag and bravado well in hand, but still bends his ever lengthening frame to give you a real hug and get a real one in return.

He doesn't look up to many, but he'll look directly at you - and when he's supposed to - he looks down just enough to let you know he knows you're right. (He'll never tell you you're right, you just have to know you both know and then eat cookies and move on.)

If Gavin's mad, he acts like an errant two-year-old, stomping and huffing. He blusters and boasts in absolutes. He glowers. It's ridiculous, and I treat it that way, because I know that usually when he's mad he's just covering that he's hurt. He's a softie, a sweetie and a sentimental fool.

The thing about Gavin is that you don't even realize that what is so genuine and good about him is seeping into your consciousness, until it has, and then you've no remedy but to accept it and move on - he's a part of your family now.

Gavin's turning 16 today. This is the only place you'll see me acknowledge that. Hereafter, I'll continue to refer to him as a baby and remind myself that he was once only tall enough to serve as a good armrest for me as I walked that same group up there home from elementary school. Four of the seven are now teenagers - the other three will succumb next year. I blame Sean. (He was first.)

Gavin doesn't live near me anymore or we'd be celebrating our birthdays together, as we have for the past several years, with double cakes and a huge feast prepared by our families. In lieu of that I hope his birthday is filled with good fun and a fine celebration and a super-duper cake.  I'll look forward to the time I can see him and his family again so I can give him a hard time about getting older and taller. I'll look forward to whatever teasing he offers about my stature and coiff in return. I'll look forward to sitting in the backyard with his mom and dad and our extended group, laughing to tears over something his older brother has said or done - sorry Brendan - it's your lot in life. And I'll look forward to congratulating him on whatever successes he has had since I've last seen him, on his way to becoming whatever his heart can dream him to be.

Because whatever his challenges or troubles, he's an achiever, a worker, a doer, a long-haul thinker and an optimist. He's a baker and an eater, an obsessive shoe-shopper and a sports-a-holic, he's good but not above a little deviance, smart but not stuffy, fun, funny and serious when he needs to be. He's intentional and clumsy and silly and oddly intuitive. And if you're looking for the unexpected, he's your guy. Because, actually, that's the thing about Gavin.

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