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"You have a brother!"

I couldn't remember a time when we had been less than four, and I'd never given any thought to the possibility of a fifth.

The four of us were sitting at our round dinner table in Queens. It could have been any night, really. I know I was drinking milk with dinner, but I don't remember what we'd done earlier that day, or what we talked about before Mom and Dad said they had a surprise for us.
"Guess," Mom said, looking at us with excitement and nervousness.
I don't remember my selection, but Evan said, in a moment of childhood intuition, "You're having another baby?"
"YES," Mom said.
There was a beat of silence, I think.
I couldn't remember a time when we had been less than four, and I'd never given any thought to the possibility of a fifth.
"No," Evan said. "Tell us the truth!"
He looked horrified, and so I reacted the way I thought I should- happily.
Evan cried.
I jumped up out of my chair, my excitement both real and fake at the same time. It seemed absurd, the idea of a baby in our house.
I don't remember very much about the next few months. I enjoyed reading about the different ways the baby was growing over time in the big book that Mom and Dad had bought us. I was 10 years old- I don't remember thinking very much about how things would change.
The day Ian was born was a terribly long day. I sat in my fourth grade classroom bouncing my knee up and down, looking at the clock, and hoping, more than usual, that my teacher wouldn't call on me.
Waiting with Evan at home, we were quiet and anxious. When Dad finally came home from the hospital, he said, "You have a brother!" and we hugged.
Evan asked me later, "Are you disappointed? Did you want a sister?"
I remember feeling surprised that I wasn't more invested either way- mostly I felt relieved to know that I had a new brother. I liked brothers.
Later that summer, Evan and I sat in the backyard, me on a lawn chair and Evan on the stoop. He was holding Ian and rocking him back and forth with great care. We sang "Rock-a-bye Baby" to him in rounds over and over, perfecting our timing, and in that moment it seemed that we were always meant to be five strong, like we'd been waiting for him the whole time.


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