The moment the door closed when John got home from work that night, Mary started talking. “We need to figure out how to tell Dean that there is no way on God’s green earth we are naming our child Batman.”
“Okay...” John chuckled, hanging up his coat and kicking off his shoes. “You really should have seen that one coming to be honesty Mary. I’m almost surprised he hasn’t started calling one of us Alfred.”
“If we find out it’s a boy, and we don’t name him Batman,” Mary sighed. “I just don’t want him to be disappointed. I want him to be excited about the baby. I just feel like if he thinks we’re ignoring his request to help name it he’ll get really upset.”
“I don’t know,” John smiled walked over to the couch pressing a kiss into his wife’s hair. “Bruce Wayne Winchester, that’s got quite a ring to it.”
“Don’t,” Mary said rolling her eyes. “I’m being serious here. You don’t need to be encouraging him. You’ll make the problem worse. He’s never going to take anything seriously if you don’t take anything seriously. He mimics everything you do. You have to know that.”
“I know.” John sat down and pulled Mary’s feet into his lap. “You know that hippie couple down the street? With that kid named Sunflower or whatever that’s Dean’s age?”
“Kelly and Patrick? Yeah, we have play dates, and their daughter’s name in Alexa Sunbeam. And they aren’t hippies. They’re just different.”
“They drive a Volkswagen and make their own clothes. They’re exactly the type of people who would be sticking daisies in the end of rifle,” John scoffed.
“I seem to recall a young man fresh from the war who was all for buying a VW Microbus,” Mary reminded him.
“That was your idea,” John corrected. “And fate intervened.”
“You love that car more than me,” Mary chuckled.
“Anyway,” John coughed changing the subject. “The girl just found out they were pregnant, and they are going to let Sunflower name the kid.”
“Where did you hear that?” Mary sighed.
“The guy’s piece of shit foreign car needed all sorts of work done on it,” John shrugged. “Might as well get to know the neighbors; we started talkin’ he mentioned baby number two, I told him about you. He said he was letting Sunflower name the baby.”
“John,” Mary said seriously. “I love Dean, I do, I love him, with every ounce of my being but he’s not naming the baby. I know that it’s the eighties and everything’s changing, but I’m not introducing Batman Robin Winchester to other parents.”
“He’s gonna hear from Sunflower that she got to name her baby sibling at school someday and he’s going to be very upset.”
Mary looked at him as if she was trying to stab him with her eyes.
“Hippie guy said that Sunflower wants to name the baby Aurora,” John shrugged.
“Like Sleeping Beauty,” Mary chuckled. “That’s cute, Alexa and Aurora. I like traditional names better, but those are cute together.”
“We don’t want to name it something that six other kids in the class are going to be named, right?” John said. “You mentioned that when we were figuring out what to call Dean. Batman might be the way to go with this one. Especially now that we know they’ll be a Disney Princess in the group.”
“Stop having ideas or I won’t let you name the baby either,” Mary said seriously.
“Did he pick out a sister name,” John chuckled. “Or does he want to name his sister Batman too.”
“Cordelia,” Mary nodded. “Which is actually kind of nice.”
“Where the hell did he…” John shook his head.
“Is it a Princess in a book that you read to him?” Mary asked.
“No,” John replied. “I have no idea. Cute though.”
“He said the baby told him that’s what it wanted to be named,” Mary continued. “Pressed his mouth up to my belly button and whispers to it, then puts his ear to it like the baby’s talking back. He also said he really wanted a sister. He’s being so cute lately. He’s gonna be a good big brother, I think. He really wants to help. Kept talking about putting the baby bed together with you soon.”
“I’ll do it soon,” John nodded. “What else you guys do today?”
“I also showed our son that everyone was in a belly once. Blew his little mind. He didn’t think Nana had ever been not old. Dean thinks babies look like aliens, but he’s very happy that he doesn’t look like an alien anymore. He said he’s very glad he’s cute now. He’s got his Daddy’s sense of himself that’s for sure.”
John chuckled. “If people spend your whole life telling you you’re cute, you’re gonna believe it eventually. With his genetics it’s not like he was going to end up getting hit with an ugly stick or nothing.”
“You’re unbelievable, Narcissus.” Mary laughed.
“He looks like you,” John smiled. “He looks just like you.”
“Nice save,” Mary rolled her eyes.
“I think we did good with that one.”
“You say that like we’re trading him in,” Mary replied.
“That’s not how it works?” John smirked. Mary smacked him in the chest. “He’s a good kid. I think he might be born to be a big brother.”
“I told Dean he was named after my mom,” Mary continued. “And he told me that we can’t name a brother after your mom.”
“Batman is a much better name for a brother than Mildred.”
“That is, oddly enough, exactly what Dean said,” Mary smiled.
“I thought you’d want to name the baby after your dad?” John asked. “We’d have a Dean and a Sam.”
“Sam works for a girl too,” Mary said picking at her fingernails. “I don’t know though. I mean, I would love to, but…”
“Samuel John,” John said massaging her calf. “Or Samantha Jane?”
“I don’t like Jane,” Mary sighed.
“Samantha Batman?” John suggested.
“Yes!” Mary laughed. “Exactly, perfect name. We’ll figure it out. We got a couple of months.”
They sat in silence for a while watching the 11 o’clock news.
“Dean saw a picture of your father while we were looking at the photo albums today,” Mary said quietly. “So he might bring that up. So just think of a way to explain that to a little kid.”
“That should be nice and easy,” John sighed.
“Just remind him that you and I aren’t going anywhere,” Mary suggested. “We will always be there for him. That’s all you can do.”
“Yeah,” John nodded. “If I learned one thing from him, it’s not to up and leave without a care. You know, Dean’s about how old I was when he disappeared. I don’t think I could ever do that. I mean, I know I’m not the best, but I’ll be damned if I do to that kid what he did to me. Don’t get me wrong, Mike’s been great, but he’s not my dad. But that little boy upstairs, I don’t think I could live with myself know that I let him down.”
Mary thought it best to change the subject as she saw that faraway look in her husband’s eyes.
“I discovered that your son has a deep desire to become a boy sized slug,” Mary chuckled.
“Why is he ‘your son’ when he does something weird, but ‘our son’ when he does something cute?” John asked.
“I like taking credit for the cute stuff,” Mary explained. “And blaming the weird stuff on you.”
“Nice,” John smiled as he pressed his head against the back of the sofa. “Yeah, I should have told you about the slug thing. He’s been talking about that for a couple of months now. I thought he gave up on it.”
“You knew?” Mary said turned to face John completely on the couch.
“Ah… yeah,” John nodded. “We were working on the car a while ago. Dean was handing me tools and I turned to ask him for something and he was chasing a slug. Told me if he ate enough of them he’d be their boy king or something else equally as ridiculous. It was weird but he does weird crap like that all the time.”
“And you told him to stop eating bugs?” Mary huffed.
“You told me to let him have an imagination,” John shrugged. “Wasn’t hurting anything. Boys eat bugs all the time. If he practices now, he’ll be able to make some good money in middle school eating weird stuff. If he eats enough non edible crap he can play for his own college. Middle school boys will pay him, like, five bucks to slugs someday.”
Mary sighed and shook her head.
“Nothing’s going to happen to him,” John smiled. “It’ll build up his immune system. I ate bugs when I was his age, nothing happened to me.”
“Little boys are so gross,” Mary laughed. “Hopefully we get the little sister Dean wants, then. we’ll be a Christmas card perfect family I’ve always wanted.”
“Either way we’re a Christmas card perfect family, Mare,” John insured her. “Just if we got two boys there is a much better chance that little Sam will covered in something sticky and Dean will be laughing maniacally while Sam cries. Actually... that will probably happen if little Sam’s a girl too. Kids are horrible.”
Mary rolled her eyes and sighed half heartedly.
John chuckled. He placed his hand lightly on his wife’s expanding belly. “If this one is boy too, it’s only going to be more disgusting. You think Jamie and Dean can get into things now? Just wait. Two boys sending all day together, someone’s going to be sticky almost every day for the rest of their lives. My mom hated it when I’d come home from my aunt’s. I was always covered in a fine layer of something gross. Boy will boys I guess. Just the hazards of having children.”
Mary shook her head before pressing it against his shoulder. “I want a hundred.”
“I’m willing to negotiate for three,” John replied. “A hundred seems a little excessive. I would like a little girl though, we’ll have to try one more time if we end up with two boys after this.”
“A little girl that looks like you?” Mary smiled.
“Just a healthy one,” John replied. “You and Dean got something really special. He just loves you.”
“He love you, too,” Mary said.
“Yeah but you don’t see that way he looks at you,” John continued. “Like you’re the sun and the stars. You’re everything to him. I mean it might be a little selfish, but I want someone who looks at me like that. You know all that teaching them to dance while she stands on my feet, kind of like how you pretend to be tied to the kitchen chair while Dean slays the dragon.”
“I’m the princess,” Mary replied. “But you’re his hero,”
“Yeah,” John sighed.
“And if this ones a boy,” Mary said. “You’ll be his hero too.”
“Yeah, I guess,” John said. “But you know, I’ll be happy either way, don’t get me wrong, I’d just really like having a daughter.”
“You’d be cute wrapped around a little girl’s finger,” Mary giggled. “Imagine you in a pink feather boa and rhinestone tiara.”
“I think I can pull it off,” John smiled squeezing Mary’s calf.
“Remember how scared we were about Dean?” Mary said softly. “I was so afraid he was going to drown when I gave him a bath or electrocute himself if I we put him too close to the wall or get lead poisoning. I was terrified to put him down for a while.”
“There’s still a chance he’ll get lead poisoning,” John joked. "He does eat a lot of weird stuff."
“Don’t let him chew on the walls and we should dodge that one,” Mary giggled. “I feel like we might have a handle on this. It feels like it’s going to be easier. We know what we’re doing and we don’t have to bubble wrap him to make sure the baby doesn’t get hurt.”
“Now we let the kid slide down the banister and eat bugs,” John laughed. “We even let him walk in the grocery store and we haven’t broken him too badly.”
“You let him slide down the banister? Seriously? After what happened last time?”
“I picked him up and held on to him,” John explained. “I didn’t throw him down the stairs. We were just having fun. He’s a little kid. Didn’t you want to slide down the banister when you were little?”
“Of course,” Mary replied. “But my parents would have murdered me.”
“Well, isn’t that what parenthood is supposed to be?” John asked. “Letting your kids do all the things you didn’t get to do that you thought would be cool?”
“We can’t just let him do whatever he wants,” Mary scowled. “We’re not going to be those parents that let their kids do whatever they want. Those people are obnoxious.”
“I didn’t give him a knife,” John defended. “I held onto him and let him slide down the banister once after he asked me every day for two weeks. Want to know what happened after I let him do it? He hasn’t asked to do it since. I say if it’s not going to hurt anybody, just let him do it. We both know he would have figured out a way to climb up there himself then he would have fallen off and cut his head open again. Get it out of his system, he’ll move on. ”
“Yeah,” Mary sighed. “I guess you got something there.”
“So we let him eat bugs and let him slide down the banister,” John said. “We let him hit the couch with a sword because he wants it to be a dragon and eat dinner under the kitchen table during Thanksgiving because with the fancy table-cloth it looks like a cave. No matter what kind of faces my mom makes at you.”
“When did you get good at this parenting stuff?” Mary smiled.
“I started listening to what the best mom in the world was saying,” John answered. “And I started taking notes.”
“I know,” John said. “Hippie girl down the street really knows what she’s talking about.”
“I hate you,” Mary laughed.
“I love you, too,” John said kissing the top of her head. “You said we can’t expect Dean to act like a little adult because he’s just a kid. I didn’t really have that. I mean, I had a childhood and everything but I had to grow up quick after my dad left. I felt like I had to take care of my mom. Dean’s got the advantage of me on that one. He’ll get to be a kid for as long as he wants. He’ll never have to worry about anything. We’ll both be there for him.”
“We’re going to be the envy of the neighborhood if you keep dropping parenting wisdom like that down on us,” Mary smiled.
“I think I’m going to head up to bed, turn in.” John yawned. “I gotta be back at the shop at 7:30.”
“You should talk to that boss of yours,” Mary said as they both pushed themselves up off the couch. “See if you can stay for breakfast.”
“I don’t know,” John shrugged. “He’s kind of a hard ass.”
“I’m making waffles,” Mary smiled. “Chocolate chip waffles, with the new waffle maker. Dean’s been asking for a month for me to use the waffle maker. He likes to pull the handle down.”
“So Dean’s making waffles?” John chuckled as they started up the stairs. “I think I can swing something with the owner of the place. He does have a soft spot of my wife. I’m gonna say goodnight to the kid then I’ll be in.”
“Just don’t wake him up,” Mary warned.
“I won’t,” John nodded. “I promise.”