Proverbs 17:17: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” (NIV)
With public school officially starting this week in Michigan, many are replacing their somewhat slower-paced summer schedules with the busyness of school, sports, and church activities. Some are just returning to the same schedule they had last year while others are starting a new stage in their household: Five-year-old’s beginning Kindergarten, upper elementary transitioning to middle school, and eighth graders last spring are now freshman this fall.
Our household has changed as well. Even though my school-aged kids don’t have any major life transitions this time around, their youngest brother is experiencing a huge shift. Last fall when they went back to school, he was still taking two naps a day and content to play in the same room where I worked, in a little fenced-in area. His world wasn’t very big, but he was happy.
However, this past summer the gate was taken down, he transitioned from two naps to one, and he moved from his crib to a toddler bed. Through all these changes, he really bonded with his older brother and sister. He is still able to play by himself relatively well, but he really misses their company. He is not his usual happy self.
Reflecting back, I can see why he is more sad than normal. They not only spent a lot of time with him this summer, but they were very influential in his life. Our oldest helped him get over his fear of insects and showed him how much fun “wrestling” can be while our daughter taught him fun games like “school, house, dress up (he was always the Superhero), and grocery store.” They both sat and read to him for hours. Our son was the most creative in getting him to lay down for his nap, and our daughter helped him fine-tune his bathroom skills. They both helped him create great infrastructures with Lego’s as well as formed a rock band to entertain their dad and me. He also loved helping them complete their chores, even though his “help” sometimes added to the work. In addition to that, though, they taught him the importance of siblings, of being there for each other, helping each other out, and just plain enjoying each other’s company. They started to build the foundation of lifelong friendship that I pray will continue as they get older. That is something that as his mom, I can’t really teach him in the same way, with the same impact.
That got me thinking about my own sister. She is an amazing older sister who did the very same things for me. She was the creative one in our family and is whom I credit with planting the seed of storytelling which has blossomed into what may someday be a career in writing fiction. My husband is the one whom I credit for encouraging my dream, but my sister is the one who started me down the path of creating stories in my head. Even though we don’t get together nearly as often as I would like, that foundation was laid and is still there. I treasure her friendship and positive impact in my life.
I am confident that our littlest will eventually get used to his new routine of one nap per day and entertaining himself again while his brother and sister are at school. In the meantime, I’m so thankful for the fact that summers have lazier schedules which allow for more family togetherness and time to create the building blocks of sibling bonds.