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I will admit to giving in to the demands of my youngest son more often than anyone else in our home, but lately, Ronnie has been pushing his "baby boy" status to the limits.

He just missed another football practice after claiming to be on the verge of throwing up. The sudden nausea occurred after he wolfed down a plate of nachos with cheese as an after-school snack.

That probably sounds believable. However, I have seen Ronnie down two servings of nachos and then return to running wild with his brothers. Usually, he doesn’t even burp afterwards.

Yesterday, I tried repeatedly to get my youngest son motivated to put on his uniform and get in the car. Every time, he started to gag into a bowl, his eyes watering at the effort.

Ronnie missed two practices last week due to the Sudden Football Vomiting Sickness, an illness his brothers would never have dreamed up.

When Jimmy was 6, he took flag football so seriously that he wet his pants one day at practice rather than ask the coach for a break.

Tommy lived up to his reputation as the low-key middle son by playing football for two years straight without missing a practice. He has even been known to get off the school bus with a raging fever after not realizing how badly he felt at school.

Jimmy, on the other hand, makes plenty of noise as the oldest son. But in fairness, I must point out that he also has to put up with more demands/commands from his father than the rest of us.

I cannot guess how many times I have heard my husband say, "Jimmy, come help me back the boat into the garage," or "Jimmy, take out the garbage."

At this rate, Ronnie will probably avoid taking out the garbage until both his brothers are in college, and he’s almost old enough to drive a car!

Another contributing factor to Ronnie’s tendency to get his own way has more to do with his temperament than his birth order. He threw his very first tantrum at three days old when he had his first official checkup. The doctor removed my son’s onesie, which caused Ronnie to scream and hold his breath until his skin became a frightening shade of blue.

We were allowed to come home, but the doctor told me to keep an eye on my baby and bring him back in immediately if there were a repeat performance.

Since that day, I have been trying to keep him calm so he won’t scream and turn blue.

After this recent football fiasco, I’m going to try to be more firm when Ronnie tries to get out of doing something. But, as usual, I can’t make any promises.

He is my baby boy, even if he doesn’t like being reminded of it every day by the other males in our family. I’m the only one who can get away with calling him "the B-word."

I suspect he’s well aware that his status comes with plenty of benefits.

Pam Zich has been married to a Marine for 17 years and currently lives in Springfield, Va. E-mail her at homefront@stripes.osd.mil or visit her Web site at www.lifeonthehomefront.com


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