“Five days later we went home but soon wished we were back in the hospital. Cathy was upset and did not like the attention being given to the new baby and that first night was almost hysterical. Russell and Mama put her in the car and drove almost to Minter City trying to quiet her down.
“Mary Carol was a good baby and content to just stay in her bed and play a lot. We had made the mistake of spoiling Cathy by picking her up every time she cried and had learned a little before Mary Carol came along. Also this time we had both Georgia and Paralee to help, but Georgia was afraid of tiny babies since she had never had children and would not pick her up until she was three months old.
“One day I came home from a quick trip to the grocery store (I wouldn’t dare stay gone but a few minutes since I knew Georgia would not pick her up). When I got home she was just beaming and said, ‘I did it. She was crying, and I just couldn’t leave her in the bed.”
Cathy’s three-year-old meltdown remains the gold standard for sibling rivalry in this family, told and retold, but I’m sure there was nothing funny about it at the time. Something about the tight little world of parents with their first and only child is so manageable, so secure, so perfect. And then a stranger breaks the bubble. And all thoughtful parents must look around and wonder “What have we done?” So I find Cathy’s reaction perfectly normal and rational. I begged for a baby brother for many years and was always met with a brisk headshake from Sara and Russell. No waythey were going to rock that boat again. As soon as I crossed that threshold on East Adams and Cathy went into her infamous all-night tantrum, I was destined to be the caboose of the Criss family.
Of course, I don’t remember that day that Georgia first picked me up. I just remember that she had me tightly in her formidable grip until she died 37 years later. More to come.