My sister's husband Mike has been in Iraq about 14 of the past 24 months. That, in addition to the fact that they live across the country in San Diego, means that Lucas has seen very little of Mike during Lucas's three years of life. My sister has, at times, worried that Lucas doesn't even remember his uncle, her husband. I have to admit that chances are pretty good that Lucas wouldn't recognize him on the street, but Uncle Mike definitely looms large in Lucas's mind.
Take these examples.
1) When we were out visiting Sarah last September, Abel and I borrowed one of their cars to drive up to the OSU v. USC game. Lucas stayed with Aunt Sarah and we moved his car seat over to Mike's BMW M3. He was pretty fascinated and excited to ride in such a "loud fast car" and still talks about Uncle Mike's "racing car" with great enthusiasm.
2) During our long drives to visit family over Christmas we had fun naming what might be in the many, many, many 18 wheeler trucks we passed on the road. Common guesses from Lucas included: Christmas presents, bicycles and dinosaurs. I think the first two were pretty likely since many of them seemed to be FedEx trucks. One time in particular he was really grilling me about the name of the truck driver. "I don't know" just wasn't cutting it, so I said that I thought his name was Mike. Lucas replied--quite indignantly--"NO Mama, that's not Mike. UNCLE Mike lives in San Diego with Aunt Sarah and he is working far, far away." Well, okay then, buddy. I guess he name is Gus.
3) Last Friday, on the way out to Picture People to take some pictures of Lucas (and take advantage of a great coupon we got in the mail) we passed a local airport. Lucas loves looking at all the little piper planes lined up along the highway so we are always sure to be in the far right lane when we drive by. This particular day, Lucas was pretty intent on getting me to pull over so he could "drive a fast, fast airplane!" I told him he couldn't drive one and he said, "Oh yeah, because I'm just a kid. But, Mama, YOU can drive one!" Then I explained that not all adults get to drive airplanes, that you have to go to a special school to learn how. I threw in that Uncle Mike can drive airplanes and maybe, just maybe, when Lucas is really big, Uncle Mike will take him in an airplane. Well, Lucas just freaked with excitement: "You mean Uncle Mike is a pilot! Uncle Mike drives a fast, fast car AND flies a fast, fast airplane! Wow!"
So my sister doesn't have to worry one bit: Lucas most certainly knows exactly who Uncle Mike is. He's the dream-come-true of every little boy!