This episode of big brother was a rerun

By JAMIE PATTERSON,

A woman approached me this weekend and congratulated me on the future arrival of my fourth child.

The only thing? I am certainly not pregnant.

As soon as she made the comment and my brain began to question the interaction, it occurred to me as I looked down at my youngest son Jase.

I felt like slapping my hand against my forehead. In the hustle and bustle to get out the door that morning, I grabbed a hand-me-down shirt from my oldest son James’ closet to put on Jase. I didn’t realize the front of the shirt said, “Big Brother.”

And it wasn’t like we were going on a quick trip to the grocery store, able to perhaps hide from the public. No, we were at the annual Jerry Clower Festival, which was the most popular spot in town with people everywhere.

I had five people come up to me, hug me and say, “I had no idea you were expecting.”

Grabbing my son James as if for proof, I replied, “No, this is big brother. It was a hand-me-down mishap.”

Within a few hours, my husband Jason even posted a photo of me and Jase on social media. And yes, Big Brother was in clear view of the camera.

Soon, my best friend was texting me, chastising me for not telling her the “good news” first.

The hand-me-down had transformed into an announcement of a fourth Patterson arriving into the world. I hated to disappoint, but there will be no new pitter-patter of little feet from the Patterson clan.

I have been lucky with hand-me-downs over the years. James’ initials match Jase’s, so it has been easy to show off those monogrammed outfits with JP proudly displayed.

Some of James’ jeans have been passed down to baby sister Elsie. A few have even been cut and hemmed for summer shorts. She has no idea they are technically “boy” jeans. But, hey, it works.

James was blessed to be the first-born son who was showered with gifts and brand spanking new clothes. Elsie was the first daughter in the entire extended family so she was swamped with new dresses, new outfits, new bows and new shoes.

But poor Jase is the third baby, the caboose. Granted, he has received a lot of new clothes. But he has also been cursed with the hand-me-down saga that every baby of the family experiences.

But I should have thrown the Big Brother shirt out. And I should have looked more closely when I put it on him that morning. Even my husband Jason’s face appeared scared as he read Jase’s shirt when we first arrived at the festival.

“Don’t worry,” I replied. “We’re good. Hand-me-down.”

A few seconds later, even he was approached with a “congratulations” from a friend.

That night, I packed away the Big Brother shirt. It had served its purpose. It had clothed two Patterson boys in its lifetime. And it had created a rumor that we were expecting a fourth baby to add to the mix.

“That’s my shirt,” Jase said, aware that it was about to be put away.

And as he looked at me with those big brown eyes. I couldn’t bear to do it.

Jase can be Big Brother whenever he wants to. It may be a hand-me-down, but he seemed to enjoy all the attention, even if it was false advertising.