I'm a middle child. I will say that up front, in case I start defending some of my nine-year-old middle child's missteps. Irene Mills Smith was born St. Patrick's Day, 2003. It was a rainy day, windy, a couple days before America invaded Iraq. I remember President Bush giving Saddam 48 hours to 'run and tell that,' to get out of downtown, to put 'em up or die. I hardly paid attention because I was holding my brand new baby girl in my arms. I had a four-year-old boy who was as close to perfect as any child I had ever been around. Parenting was easy, I had four solid years of being the perfect Dad. The first time Irene opened those baby blues and looked me square in the eyes that March morning, I knew immediately I would pay dearly for my many past transgressions. Like Saddam, I was warned.
I really can't tell you a lot about Irene without telling on myself. She is a beautiful, bright, athletic, talented underachiever. If I need a child to run a 5k with me, I go to Irene. If I need a child to break in to the house, I go to Irene. My father, Pops, told me she had a 'dark gift' just like her father's. I didn't know it at the time, but that was my 48 hours, my time to clear downtown. My father gave me my warning.
Below is a link to her second grade Valentine's Day program. You can't miss her, she 's front and center. In a month, she will finish third grade and, I'm told, head straight for high school.