I remember exactly where I was four years ago today — at Blount Memorial Hospital, awaiting the arrival of my third grandchild, Thomas.

Being a numbers geek, I was thrilled to have this grandson born on 11-12-13. I was even more thrilled that my daughter and son-in-law chose my maiden name, Braden, as his middle name, although none of that really mattered as long as he and his mother were healthy and happy. They were, and the proud parents were joined by Thomas’s five grandparents, his great-grandmother and his siblings to warmly welcome the newest member of the family on that frigid, clear November day.

These intervening years have been such fun watching him grow and learn. He was completely alert as soon as he was born, looking around to see what this new gig was all about. Not much has changed in that regard. He’s still observing and learning and, like his big sister Ellie and his big brother Seth, he is such a joy to be around.

Now, Thomas has his moments. He’s rather strong-willed — I have no idea where he may have inherited that gene — and on occasion, drives his mother a bit nuts. For example, awhile back, on the day the family was leaving for vacation, Thomas did exactly as his mother told him not to do and ended up falling on a pipe in the bathroom as he was walking the perimeter of the tub while she was busy with the last-minute preparations in another room. He didn’t hurt himself, but he broke a pipe and water spewed everywhere. His dad had to crawl under the house and shut off the water to avoid any more flooding, and the possibility arose of cancelling vacation to fix the pipe. They finally decided to go ahead and worry about that when they got home. Yes, Thomas’s name was mud for awhile.

He’s also not a fan of vegetables. His mother sent out a plea on Facebook a week or so ago asking her friends how they “encourage” their picky eaters to try healthy foods because if she can get Thomas to try anything at all, he acts like he is gagging and spits the food in the trash can. I just sat back and laughed. This is from the child of mine who refused to eat a scrambled egg if she saw even one small fleck of white in it 30-odd years ago yet absolutely loved meringue on a pie. Her brother, Thomas’s uncle, also tried the gagging thing when anything resembling a “pickle,” his description of whatever vegetable was nearby, went in his mouth at around this same age. Did I rub it in? You bet I did! Revenge is sweet!

Thomas has such a big imagination, too, and I often marvel at what he comes out of that quick mind. Last time they were at my house, he wanted me to play “pretend” and made up a complete scenario about us playing a video game together. It’s sometimes difficult to understand a 3-year-old, but the gist of it was that he would play the game first and then hand the pretend phone to me to have a turn. Every single time, he’d shake his head solemnly and say, “You lost again, Mamaw.”

This little guy is funny, smart, loving and infuriating, all at once. He’s also such an amazing blessing, one I give thanks for every single day.

Happy birthday, Thomas!

Contact Linda Braden Albert with story ideas at LindasInkyfingers@comcast.net.

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