I think Brandon and I were both a bundle of nerves while we were at work on Thursday, as we mentally prepared for Benny to arrive and become part of our family. I prayed this would work out all right, and although I felt it would, you can never be sure about these things. I just hoped the boys would all get along with each other.
We had only been home a short time, when Frankie pulled into the driveway. As soon as he saw Frankie's vehicle, Joshie went tearing out of the house to greet Benny and nearly tackled the poor kid as he was getting out of the SUV. No harm was done, however, because both boys were smiling as they walked toward the house, with an arm draped over each other's shoulders.
"That's quite a picture," Dion mused when he saw his son and our newest family member.
"Yes, they hit it off almost immediately and I think they'll be good for each other," I commented just before both boys entered the house, followed closely by Frankie.
I think having Frankie drive him to the house made Benny feel more at ease, since Frankie was one of the two State Troopers who saved him from the horrible situation he'd been in. It also didn't hurt that Benny had taken an instant liking to Joshie.
"This is my brother, Wyatt," Joshie announced as Wyatt waddled toward them.
"Who he?" Wyatt asked as he looked up at Benny.
"He's Uncle Danny and Uncle Brandon's new son. His name is Benny," Joshie explained.
"Ben-ee," Wyatt repeated as he looked up at Benny. Benny then bent down so Wyatt could see him better.
"Frankie, thanks for going out of your way to bring Benny here," Brandon told him, sincerely grateful.
"It was my pleasure. I think Benny was more than a little nervous as we made our way here, because he hardly said a word the entire time. I think he became even more concerned about what he was getting into when he saw this big ol' place, although I'd tried to tell him about it while we were traveling. It can still be quite a sight and even a little intimidating when you first see it, but he'll get used to it quickly. I think Joshie took care of most of Benny's fears with his enthusiastic greeting, because it looks as if Benny feels right at home now."
"Yes, he's been a big help. In fact, I'm not sure what we would have done without Joshie, because he broke the ice for us when we first met Benny," I added as I smiled at the pair in front of me. At nearly the same instant I saw Noah out of the corner of my eye.
"Noah, come here please. Benny, this is one of our sons, Noah," I explained as I urged Noah to shake hands with Benny. "You two are going to be brothers now."
"So I'll have another brother?" Benny asked as he glanced over at Joshie.
"Joshie and Wyatt are technically your cousins, but we all live in the same house so you'll be just like brothers," Dion clarified.
"Oh, ok," Benny sighed, although he appeared slightly disappointed.
Then, he began to look around the interior for the first time and noticed how many people were standing in the foyer waiting to greet him. I think this sight was quite intimidating for Benny, so Brandon decided to draw Benny's attention back to Joshie.
"Don't worry. You and Joshie will be just as close as if you were brothers," he assured him. "We're all just one big happy family here."
"That's right," Dion chimed in. "The guy working in the kitchen and I are Joshie's parents. You can call him Uncle Trey and I'm Uncle Dion."
"So we all got two dads and no mom," Benny said as he was slowly starting to piece things together.
"That's right. I hope it's not a problem for you."
"No, but is that why my other foster dad called you guys queers and homos?" Benny asked innocently.
"Yes, he said that because he knew we'd rather be with another man than with a woman," I replied. "Some people don't like it when two guys are together and call them mean names, like your foster dad did. I hope you don't have a problem with it?"
"Nah. I never had a dad before, so I think it will be neat to have two dads now. Before, it was just me and my mom, but she didn't really like me and wasn't very nice, so this will be a lot better."
"Yes, we all have two dads, even those of us who are dads too. That's how it works around here. Uncle Dion and Uncle Trey are Joshie and Wyatt's two dads, but we have two dads too. They'll be your grandpas and you'll have a whole bunch of uncles too, including Uncle Frankie, but you'll meet the rest of them later." Benny merely smiled in response.
"Dinner will be ready in a just few minutes and I'll be calling you out to the table," Trey announced as he stepped out of the kitchen.
"I hope you didn't go to any trouble on my account," Frankie stated when Trey finished speaking.
"Not at all. I was mainly worried about making something I thought Benny might like, so I ended up fixing spaghetti and meatballs. I figured all kids like that, so I just hope you're all ok with my choice."
"Yeah, I like sketti," Benny confirmed as a huge smile broke across his face. "It was my fave-rit when I had it at school."
"I'm glad to hear that, because I didn't want you to go hungry," Trey confirmed.
"You mean you made it just for me?" Benny followed, staring at Trey.
"Yep, because I felt you might like it better than anything else, but I made a tossed salad and some garlic bread too," Trey added, before leaving to check on the food.
"While we're waiting to eat, I'll run out to get Benny's things and bring them inside so I don't forget later," Frankie announced as he headed for the door.
"Ok, I'll go with you and help," I said as I followed Frankie.
"He really doesn't have very much and I can manage it by myself," Frankie announced once we were outside.
"I was afraid of that, but at least now I know. I just wasn't sure."
We carried the items inside and set them down next to the staircase leading to the second floor. I planned on taking them up later, once Benny decided which bedroom he wanted to use. For now, I merely followed Frankie into the living room where the others were chatting, except for Trey who was putting the finishing touches on the meal.
I was pleased to see that Noah was sitting next to Benny too, happily chatting with him. Joshie was on Benny's other side and was continually making comments to clarify some of the things Noah was saying. I suspect he must have said something about Brandon and me, because Benny glanced over to where we were sitting and stared at us for a few seconds.
"Hey, what should I call you guys?" Benny finally shouted, his eyes wide in anticipation.
"Elliot, our other son who's away at college, and Noah call us Dad Danny and Dad Brandon, which is fine with us. Joshie calls his fathers Daddy and Poppy, and that would be alright with us too, so we'll let you choose which you'd prefer. I have no doubt we'll respond either way."
"How about I call you Dad D and Dad B?" Benny offered, and then he waited for our response. His choice, however, made me chuckle.
"That's fine, although at first I thought you were calling me daddy, like Joshie calls your Uncle Dion. I realized my mistake when you called Brandon Dad B, but that's fine with us." For a moment Benny looked confused and I was about to explain my comment when his face suddenly lit up.
"Oh, I get it now," he confirmed with a toothy grin. "Dad D sounds like daddy." I merely nodded and smiled back.
"Dinner's ready, so you'd better get washed up and in here if you want to eat," Trey announced. Joshie immediately grabbed Benny's hand and led him toward the downstairs bathroom, while Noah picked up Wyatt so he could help him.
Once we'd all made our way to the dining room, Joshie said he wanted Benny to sit next to him. Since Brandon and I felt one of us might need to help Benny fill his plate, as Dion usually did for Joshie, we placed the boys in between us. It's a good thing we have a large oval table, or otherwise this might have been a problem. Instead, Brandon and I sat to the right of Benny with Noah sitting next to me, while Dion and Trey sat on Joshie's left with Wyatt sitting on his booster seat on the other side of Trey.
Once we were all situated, Brandon helped Benny take what he wanted, and Dion and Trey did the same for Joshie and Wyatt. As soon as those three were set, we started passing the dishes around the table for everyone else to take their share.
"This is really good," Benny squealed as he shoveled the food into his mouth.
"Thank you," Trey responded politely. "I'm glad you like it."
"Just take your time and enjoy the meal," Brandon advised Benny. "There's plenty of food and you can have as much as you want, so slow down and chew everything carefully. I don't want you to choke or overdo it."
"K," was all Benny answered.
Benny slowed down, but that didn't stop him from trying to stuff himself. I was afraid he was going to burst before he finished.
"Hey, you'd better save some room for dessert," Trey advised him. "I made a chocolate cake with fudge icing in your honor."
"You made a cake for me?" Benny shot back, totally amazed.
"Yes, I made it for you, but we're all going to have some. It's for all of us share, but I made it to welcome you to the family." At that moment Benny's chest swelled out even further than his belly.
"K, I'll save room then," he relented.
After we'd all finished eating, Trey carried the chocolate cake into the dining room with three lighted candles on top. As he set it down in front of Benny, we could see that Trey had written a message on top too. It read, "Welcome Home Benny."
"What do you say, Benny?" Brandon prompted after a few seconds. As I glanced at Benny I could see tears rolling down his cheeks.
"Nobody's ever made a cake for me before," he choked out, deeply moved.
"Not even for your birthday?" Joshie gasped, horrified.
"Nope. Some of my teachers gave me a cupcake at school with a candle on top when it was my birfday, but that was it."
"Damn! I can't imagine a parent not celebrating his kid's birthday," Noah added. "That will change now, because we make a big deal out of birthdays."
"By the way, when is your birthday?" I asked, so I could mark the date on the calendar so we wouldn't forget.
"The last day of April, I think," Benny responded.
"You're not sure?" Joshie gasped again.
"I think that's when it is, because that's what my teachers told me, but my mom never did nothin' at home, so I'm not sure," Benny answered honestly.
"I'll make certain I find out then. I'll ask someone I trust to check your records and then we'll know for sure."
"Blow out the candles now, Benny," Brandon urged. "We can't cut the cake until you do that."
"K, but how come there are three candles? I'm not three."
"I used three candles because you're Danny and Brandon's third son," Trey explained. "There's Elliot, Noah, and you."
"I get it and that's nice," Benny replied before blowing them out.
Trey then cut the cake into slices and put a rather healthy one on a small plate that he set down in front of Benny. The kid tore into that piece of cake like he'd never had cake before, and possibly he hadn't. It was great watching him enjoying every bite, before he started scraping up the crumbs so they didn't go to waste either.
"That was really good. Thank you," he said as he looked over at Trey and then glanced around at the rest of us. We all smiled in return to let him know we were pleased he was with us.
Now that dinner was over, Frankie excused himself and let us know he had to get back home. "It's been fun, but I've got to scoot. I'm working tomorrow."
"Well, thanks for making this road trip and bringing us a very special present," I responded. I wondered if Benny had caught on to what I meant, but I knew the answer to that question the second he looked up at me and grinned.
"You mean me, doncha?"
"Yes, that's what I meant."
"Well, it was my pleasure to do it for you and I'll return to check up on my new nephew from time to time."
"We look forward to having you," Brandon responded. "Benny, go over and say goodbye to Uncle Frankie and thank him for bringing you here." Benny got up and shuffled over to where Frankie was standing.
"Thanks, Uncle Frankie. I hope I get to see you again soon."
"You will. You don't have to worry about that," Frankie replied. Then, the rest of us followed Frankie out to his SUV, told him to have a safe trip, and waved as he drove off.
"I guess it's time for Benny to choose the bedroom he wants to use," I said once we were all inside again.
"Pick the one next to mine!" Joshie immediately shouted.
"You mean I get to have a room all by myself?"
"You mean you didn't have your own room before?" Joshie asked.
"No. I slept on the couch or in the cage when I was with my mom, and then I had to share a room at the foster home."
"Well, you won't have to do that here, because you'll have your own bedroom," Brandon assured him.
"And I get to pick it out too?" Benny followed.
"You sure do. This is a big place and there's lots of empty bedrooms right now," I added. "There were a whole bunch of us living here at different times, about 18 because Dad B stayed here with us too, so we needed to have a lot of bedrooms."
"Wow! Are we going to have that many here now?" Benny wondered.
"Who knows? Dion and Trey have two sons and you make our third son," I replied. "That means there's five boys here and six adults that will be living here, so we're getting close."
"I don't see that many people?" Benny observed.
"That's true. Your brother, Elliot, is at college and you haven't met your Grandpa Josh or Grandpa Jake yet. Your grandpas live here as well, but they're in Georgia right now helping to take care of one of your other uncles. Grandpa Jake will be back the day after tomorrow, though, because he's got to go back to work."
"I hope I can 'member who they all are," Benny said looking concerned.
"Don't worry about it. If you forget, we'll just remind you, but I'm sure it won't take very long before you figure it all out," Dion told him.
We then headed upstairs to show Benny some of the rooms he had to choose from. However, as soon as he saw the jungle room, he didn't want to go farther. "Can I pick this one?" he asked as he stared at the animals on the wallpaper.
"Sure, if you want," I confirmed.
"This one is really neat! I've never stayed in a room as nice as this one before."
"Well, it's your room now and we'll prove it by unpacking everything you brought with you and putting it in the dresser and closet for you," Brandon advised him.
The two of us then walked downstairs to fetch his belongings and carried the items up to his room. We soon discovered the clothes he'd brought with him were all of questionable value, even the ones he probably wore to school. This meant we'd definitely have to take him shopping after work tomorrow to pick up some other items for him. We'd only buy the basics at that time, and then we'd do more shopping over the weekend, at least until he had everything he needed. Since we had no other option, we quickly picked out the best outfit we could find among the items he'd brought with him, because he had to wear something tomorrow. All of his clothes needed to be laundered, though, and eventually we'd only use these clothes for him to play in.
"Now that you are pretty much settled in, why don't I give you a bath?" Brandon suggested.
"I can wash myself," Benny stated indignantly.
"Ok, you can do it after today, but I want to give you a bath this time to make sure you're squeaky clean for tomorrow. You're going to have to go to work with us, so I want you to look really nice."
"You mean I've got to work and not go to school?"
"No, you'll be going to school on Monday, but tomorrow you'll go in to work with us," Brandon clarified. "We're doing it so Dad D can give you a complete physical, because he'll be your pediatrician too."
"It's a doctor who only has kids for patients," I informed him. "I want to give you a physical so I can make sure everything is in good working order." Benny was cocking his head as he analyzed this news.
"You don't have to spend the entire day with him, though, but you can if you want to," Brandon added. "He has a lot of toys, books, and other things in the waiting room for the other kids to use when they come for an appointment, so there will be plenty for you to do. After your physical, you can stay there and have fun if you want, or you can go over and be with Wyatt at the daycare center."
"Daycare is for little kids, so I'll stay with Dad D. K?"
"Sure, that works for us," Brandon agreed.
"And while Dad B is giving you a bath, I'll take some of your clothes downstairs and throw them in the washing machine," I explained. Before I left, however, Joshie came streaking down the hallway, totally naked.
"Can I take a bath with Benny?"
"Hey, you don't got no clothes on," Benny observed, his mouth hanging open after he finished speaking.
"Of course. You don't take a bath with your clothes on," Joshie pointed out.
"But it will be up to Benny if he wants to take a bath with you," Brandon offered. "Maybe he doesn't want you to see him naked yet."
"It's ok. I've seen Joshie's thingy now, so I guess he can see mine too, but mine looks different." We weren't sure if he meant his penis wasn't as long as Joshie's, since Joshie was hung like his father, or if his comment meant he was uncircumcised. I guess we'd soon find out.
While that was going through our minds, Brandon glanced in my direction so he could silently ask if I thought he should allow them to bathe together, so I nodded. "I'll just let Dion and Trey know what's going on when I get downstairs."
"What's a thingy?" Joshie eventually asked, slightly confused.
"He means your penis," Brandon informed him.
"Oh. A lot of people will see you like that, cuz we don't wear clothes here sometimes. We go swimming like this too." Benny made a face, but I wasn't sure if it was about others seeing him naked or about the swimming.
"Benny, can you swim?" I asked to sort it out right away. If he couldn't swim, I thought it was something we should know.
"I'm not sure. I've never tried."
"That's alright. We'll teach you then," I advised him. "Joshie, that means you can't take Benny in the pool unless Uncle Brandon, I, or your daddies are there to watch and help teach him."
"You have a swimmin' pool?" Benny followed.
"Yep, outback," Joshie confirmed.
"Is it a small one that you fill with a hose?" Benny followed, letting us know he was thinking of a kiddie pool. It seemed he didn't think a family would have a regular size pool.
"No, it's much larger than that. It's an above ground pool and we'll show it to you this weekend," Brandon clarified. "We use it a lot when it's warm out, but unfortunately we won't have much longer to do that this year. Come on, let's get you boys in the tub."
Brandon then went in to draw the bathwater while Benny was getting undressed. Before long, the boys came strolling into the bathroom together.
"Benny's penis is like Poppy's, that's all," Joshie announced. That seemed to clear everything up for now.
After the boys were in the tub, Brandon explained to Benny about the difference in their penises and instructed him how to retract the foreskin. They soon discovered, however, that Benny's penis wasn't ready to do that just yet, so they would wait and try again another time.
"How come Joshie's thin... pee-nus is bigger than mine?"
"It's pee-nis, not pee-nus," Joshie corrected.
"It just works that way," Brandon answered, hoping Joshie hadn't made Benny feel badly. "Joshie's daddy has a bigger penis than the rest of us too, because size varies from person to person. It's in the genes you inherit from your parents, so not everyone's penis is the same size." Brandon wasn't sure if Benny understood, but he didn't pursue the matter further, so Brandon let the subject drop.
When Brandon finished bathing both boys he had them put on a fresh pair of underwear to sleep in. I intentionally didn't say 'clean' underwear, because it didn't appear that anything Benny brought with him was clean, so I was currently trying to correct that situation in the laundry room. Once both boys were ready, Brandon told them they could go downstairs for a little while longer if they wanted, since it was still early.
"Wow! Benny looks a lot different now," Trey observed as they came down the steps.
"Very nice," Dion added. "And thanks for washing Joshie too."
"No problem, but he wasn't giving me much of a choice." Dion and Trey chuckled when they heard that.
"Yes, I'm sure he was quite insistent. He likes to check others out and see how they're hung," Dion admitted. "It's much the same as we did at one time."
"Yes, kids tend to be curious about such things and we were too," Brandon agreed.
While I was still running the first load of Benny's clothes through the washer, Benny and Joshie went in to watch TV for a while. After I moved that load over to the dryer, I called Benny to tell him it was time to go to bed. Both boys came running out of the family room together, so I told Trey and Dion that I'd tuck Joshie in too, after I finished with Benny. They thanked me and then kissed Joshie goodnight before we took off.
When we reached the top of the stairs, Noah was walking down the hallway, totally naked, but Benny wasn't expecting anything like this either.
"Hey, he's got no clothes on and he's got a really big thing... penis," he observed, correctly saying the word this time. "It's way bigger than mine and Joshie's, and it's all hairy too."
"Those are things that will happen to you when you get older," I clarified, hoping he wouldn't want to get into this right now. However, he was too busy gawking at Noah instead, so nothing more was said.
Noah stopped and allowed Benny to visually inspect his equipment, much to Benny's delight. When he'd seen it for a sufficient amount of time, Benny headed for his new bedroom and Noah went to his room as well.
"So everybody walks around here with no clothes on?" Benny asked as he was getting into bed.
"Basically. It's only us guys here, so we don't worry too much about the others seeing us without anything on. If you'd been here during the summer you would have gotten an eyeful."
"You mean all of you took your clothes off?"
"Not only us, but all of your uncles too, when they came to visit. It was hot out, so everyone felt better with nothing on, but there was a lot of skinny-dipping going on as well."
"It's skinny-DIPping, and that just means swimming naked."
"Benny, if you need anything during the night my bedroom's right over there," I informed him, so he'd know where to go. "The night light is always on in the bathroom during the night, so you'll be able to find your way around without bumping into anything, but do you want me to leave the lamp on in your room too?"
"Ummm, I guess not. I never did that before."
"Ok, but you can always change your mind if you want me to do that later."
Joshie had gone to his room while Benny was gawking at Noah, so I tucked Benny in quickly, kissed him goodnight, and wished him sweet dreams. Then I gathered up the rest of his clothing to wash before going over to tuck Joshie in.
"Thanks for everything you did for Benny tonight," I told him. "That really helped a lot."
"I didn't do nothing."
"Maybe you didn't realize it, but you did. It started when you ran out to greet Benny when he first got here, and then when you wanted him to sit next to you at the dinner table. It was also nice when you told him you wanted him to take the bedroom next to yours. I'm sure Benny appreciated you telling him all that stuff about the family too, and then taking a bath with him."
"I didn't do it just for him. I wanted to do that stuff too."
"I know, but it still helped out and made Benny feel comfortable, so thank you very much." I then kissed Joshie on the cheek and wished him pleasant dreams.
When I went downstairs again, I filled Brandon, Trey, and Dion in about what had happened when I put the boys to bed. I thought they should know everything so we'd all be on the same page in the future. Then I went to take the last load of the night out of the dryer and folded those items before carrying them upstairs and putting them away. Benny was already sleeping when I got to his room, so I placed everything in his dresser, content that Benny had felt comfortable enough to fall asleep.
Once that was taken care of, Brandon and I decided to turn in as well, since tomorrow looked as if it was going to be another long day. We were off to a decent start, so I prayed our good fortune would continue.