Real Housewives of Cologne, Episode 17

3 09 2021

“EIN GUTER RUF”

My boyhood Bible had a bookmark with my first name on it, and below it was the first part of Proverbs 22:1 in KJV: “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches…”

It took me a little while to understand that “name” in that context didn’t mean in the sense of first name, middle name or last name, but it meant reputation.

Hence, that same verse in the real Word of God, Luther 1545:

Ein guter Ruf ist köstlicher denn großer Reichtum, und Gunst besser denn Silber und Gold. (“A good reputation is more precious than great wealth, and [favor, goodwill, esteem] is better than silver and gold.”)

Since Luther used Ruf and not Name, that’s just one further piece of evidence that “name” in the KJV sense meant “reputation.”

***

Speaking of names.

Yes, he has arrived. I am now officially an uncle, albeit by marriage. My wife is now officially an aunt, by blood. My sister-in-law a mother, the soyboy-in-law a father, and my parents-in-law are now grandparents to grandsons three times over.

Like I wrote in this series earlier, for this little bundle of joy to be his father’s birthday present, i.e. to be born on his father’s birthday, he would have needed to be more late than medically desirable.

In reality, it came close.

She went into labor early in the morning on the Saturday the 28th, two days after the end of her due date range, which was the 23rd to the 26th. Her labor was nowhere near as painful as my wife’s, but it lasted much longer. He arrived into the world just after the stroke of midnight on the next day, Sunday the 29th, the day before his father’s birthday. Which means his own birthday and his father’s birthday are on consecutive days. August 29 for son, August 30 for dad.

Since they got to go home on Monday the 30th, in a way, it was his father’s birthday present. Just as ours weren’t born on Christmas Day but got to come home on Christmas Eve.

Back in December, all six of us were there, obviously my wife and I were in the delivery room, and the other four were in the waiting room. This time, since there are already two (now) toddlers (see below), someone had to mind them, and you can probably figure who was the best and most obvious choice to do that. So I wasn’t in the waiting room the whole time; Frick, Frack and I platooned between the waiting room, chores and home during the day on Saturday. Around 12:30-something on Sunday morning I got the call from the better half with the good news about both the successful delivery and the better news about the name (again, see below). Then later that morning, I rounded up the rugrats to head back to the hospital to meet their brand new cousin for the first time.

Since both mom and dad are small light svelte people, any children of theirs was bound to be the same, and on the light side of the newborn baby weight bell curve. And that he was, only the twentieth percentile. Otherwise, healthy, and delivered full term and then some. Unlike ours, though, who started out in the low median percentile range for twin boys, but already got to the median by five months, and now somewhat over at eight, their new cousin will most likely be on that side of the bell curve his whole life.

***

Now, like I said, name. This is the part you all want to know.

You already know from previous installments of this series how they were going to pick a name. And how we were all biting our nails over how badly we feared it was going to turn out.

The way they tell it, they both had their first serious pensive stare at their newborn son at the same time. And that they both blurted out something at almost the same time, but mom beat dad by the blink of an eye. Therefore, what mom said is his first name, and what dad said is his middle name.

The first name is…drumroll please…a perfectly respectable normal name. The middle name, while a little unconventional, is not so weird, and certainly not any kind of celebutardish, that if dad would have been quicker on the draw than mom, and his middle name would have been his first name and vice versa, that my new nephew would have gone through life with a disreputable first name in lieu of him either legally changing it or going by his middle name.

(Note: I’ll tell only people I trust the names, and only if you want to know.)

Now, whether he with the good Name will also have a good Ruf, that’s going to be up to him in the long run, and a matter of fate.

After all the excitement wore down around noon-ish on Sunday, and we took stock of all that happened, and realized the bullet was dodged over this name thingy, my father-in-law was like: Danke Gott, as he looked up. My mother-in-law was like: Danke Gott, as she looked up. My wife was like: Danke Gott, as she looked up.

I was like: Thank God, as I looked up.

***

As you can predict, my father-in-law isn’t just over the Moon, he’s that, back to Earth and back over the Moon again. Really, my mother-in-law is just the same, except she’s not as ostentatious with her emotions. His now three grandsons are one of the rare things in life which brings the emotionalism out in him. I’ve even seen him try to dance, but let’s just say that that’s the kind of thing that you can never un-see.

My father-in-law almost literally thinks I’m an “Engel.” To which I respond to him with this bon mot: “Es ist wahr, dass ich von einem hohen Ort stammte. Aber es war Lufthansa, nicht Gott.” (Pph: “I did come from the sky, but it was Lufthansa, not God.”) In reality, for reasons you all know, I needed them as much as they needed me. We’re all people who now know first hand that things can go really right or really left in a hurry, and that nothing ever stays that good or that bad for that long.

My parents-in-law are happy not only because of the literal event, but also what it represents. As late as three years ago at this time, they were really worried about and this close to being resigned to the fact that neither one of their daughters would ever give them grandchildren slash their older one would never get married. To today, they’re grandparents to three grandsons. And all because I came along into their older daughter’s life, and set off a big chain reaction on the pool table.

Which reminds me that Sunday is the third anniversary of me arriving in Germany to live and work, and then five days later is the third anniversary of me meeting and laying eyes on her for the first time.

***

Okay, dear sister-in-law and soyboy-in-law. It’s now for real. All that growing up we all think you need to do? Better hurry up and get the rest of it done, PDQ.

Although the better half and I know without even saying that we’re going to have to be his de facto second set of parents. I knew that already from early last month when I helped the new dad put together assemble the baby furniture, and by “help,” I mean I did most of the work.

I’m going to make one long term prediction: My parents-in-law’s third grandson will favor his grandmother, in contrast to their first two, who are already showing much more favoritism to their grandfather than their grandmother. That’s rather easy to predict, because the better half is daddy’s girl, while my sister-in-law is mommy’s girl.

***

Now, as for the two that have already been here for several months, we’re off to the races. Now officially rugrats. Both heard the starting bell and crashed out of the gates second week in August, the younger one beat the older one by two days. I was on the road when the younger one started, but not so when the older one did, so I didn’t totally miss out. The difference between the two of them is that the younger instantly went to crawling, while the older had his first crawl two days after the younger but took another two days to crawl as well as the younger one did with his very first one. The difference between all at once and easing into it.

This is probably going to be the start of a lifelong competition between the two of them on who does what first. And now that they’re crawling and thus independently mobile at least in the most basic sense of speaking, the fun has really begun for their parents. It also means they have more or less crossed over from infant to toddler.

The next big things are going to be walking and talking, and which one they get to first is actually going to be an early and leading indicator of their inherent cognitive ability and IQ. Both their parents started talking before walking, the time gap between the two was wider for mom than dad.

I resolved to arrange things to where they hear equal parts German and English in their infancy, toddlerhood and childhood. The way things are working out, considering where they are, that only one of the six grown people they interact with most often is a native English speaker, and anyway they hear him speak German close to half the time, (when he’s actually home), it’s turning out to be more like three fourths to one fourths. So their first words are most likely going to be in German. And there’s the old axiom that there is no such thing as a truly bilingual human being, that anyone who is “natively” bilingual merely sucks at two languages. I can also see where that’s going in this case; They’ll be native in German and especially the low country Rhenish sort of accent, while some level north of fluent but south of native in American English and my “Last of the Mohicans” sort of St. Louis accent (“kitchen zink”).

I already miss these infants.

***

I made it my business to be at or close to home the entire week of her due date range, but had to get back on the road on Monday no matter what happened. I was able to see them bring my nephew home from the hospital to see their grandparents’ home for the first time, but then I had to hit the road. I’ve got only one more month of this serious work and travel grind for awhile, and hopefully it will end with a blue wave.

On the drive between Nuremberg and Berlin on Thursday morning, I took a few minutes aside to make a brief bit out of the way pit stop at a certain historically significant town along the way. A town where someone once wrote a translation of this really long book, and he did a lot of his work in that town. Voller Kreis.


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2 responses

5 09 2021
6 09 2021
countenance

We were honestly worried that it was going to to be something almost this god awful.

It's your dime, spill it. And also...NO TROLLS ALLOWED~!

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