My boys are 9 and 6, just two and a half years separating them. They are incredibly different people, and in many ways a typical first born and middle child going through life together. Over the summer, I’ve seen their relationship change in a way that has surprised me.
My middle child seeks confirmation about everything. And I mean everything. He takes nothing as it is. It has to be held up, analyzed, scrutinized, and confirmed…by his big brother.
If he draws a picture, he needs his brother to think it’s awesome.
If he reads something, he needs his brother to read it and validate it.
If they are watching a show and the show says, “I dreamed last night…” he immediately asks, “Was he really dreaming? Is that really true?”
And he waits for his brother to respond.
I’ll be honest, this new habit kind of annoys me. If he were asking me to confirm every.single.thing., I would get real tired real quick and probably snap back, “I don’t know! Just watch the show!”
His brother doesn’t do that. I haven’t once heard him reply snarkily or impatiently or unkindly to his brothers’ constant asking. I’m not sure if he hasn’t picked up on the frequency of it or if he’s just not bothered by it. Or maybe he likes the feeling of being trusted and needed.
Maybe (I doubt this is it, but a mom can dream) he remembers a conversation we had months and months ago about the power of being a big brother. He had gotten into trouble twice for calling his little brother a dummy. I explained to him the very real power he has over his brother, not a physical power (because, come on, his little brother is scrappy and could totally take him) but the power to shape his identity. I told him that his brother looks up to him, trusts him, loves him, and in so many ways wants to be like him. I told him that we give the people we love the most a certain power to help us or to hurt us, because what they say and believe about us matters the most. Just as I believe what my husband says about me more than what the cashier at McDonald’s says about me, so too does his brother believe and take to heart what he hears from his family. So if we are pouring into him words like dummy, he’s going to start believing that he is a dummy.
So whatever the reason, my sons are interacting in this new, curious way. One seeks truth and confirmation from someone he trusts, and that person responds in love and truth and patience and comfort and his words satisfy the other.
What a beautiful reminder my boys give me, to seek truth from the One person Whose word means more than anyone else’s; To seek confirmation from the only One who has the power to name me.