This week I’ve been thinking about two of my sons: specifically, the two who flank Jack in birth order. I believe these boys came before and behind Jack for the purpose of being kind, watchful, protective helpers for their special brother.
Henry has always watched over Jack and helped him in myriad ways. When they both shared a train fascination, Henry would set up and run the Polar Express locomotive train set to Jack’s delight. When they were just little boys, Henry would watch movies with Jack and make sure he didn’t venture off the sidewalk and into the street. He buckled Jack’s seatbelt and washed Jack’s hair in the bath. Now he often helps Jack open tricky packages or retrieve favorite toys which have been lobbed into the window well.
Charlie seems to have emerged from his early years of being intensely disliked by Jack with great devotion and everlasting fondness for his big, silly brother. Chachi isn’t the least bit concerned that Jack completely despised him in his infancy. He just seems to revel in the fact that Jack follows him through the house and backyard–swinging when he swings, bouncing when he bounces, and vegging out to Tangled when Charlie does. These two often roll around like a couple of little bear cubs. They don’t say a whole lot to each other vocally during such moments, but their tactile play fulfills a need for sensory input and brotherly wrestling.
This close physical connection proved very handy yesterday when Jack, who had spent the morning resisting therapy, breakfast, and backyard playtime, decided to unlock the front door and bolt at full speed down the street. I heard him take off but was holding an almost-sleeping baby and wasn’t as fast as Charlie, who followed Jack and chased him several doors down, where he grabbed Jack’s shirt and held on with all his might. The four-year-old stopped Jack dead in his tracks. Good work, Chach.
Henry’s kindness for Jack again played out today when he came to the rescue. I had stopped at my parents’ home where the three boys were going to hang out while I took Jack to Shriner’s Hospital for his yearly x-rays and check of his leg-length discrepancy and knock-knees. In the two minutes while I used the restroom, Jack went outside to the pool, which was stuck partially open because the pool cover had broken down beyond repair, and got himself soaking wet. Five minutes of panic ensued because a) Jack was drenched, b) we needed to leave NOW for Shriner’s, and c) we had no spare clothes.
In frenetic desperation, I found a tee shirt with the logo of a university my eldest refuses to wear and pulled it quickly over Jack’s head. Then I turned to Henry and asked if he would loan Jack his shorts and make due with something scrounged from Grandma’s drawers. Without argument or even hesitation, H simply handed over his camo shorts. And suddenly Jack, while “going commando,” was decent enough for a visit to see the orthopedist.
Brotherly love, indeed.