I’m writing this note to you, real quick before I head to bed, because I want you to know just how much your brother loves you. And though I trust you will feel it, see it, and hear it in many ways throughout your sibling life, I don’t want my memory to fail this memory. So tonight, I write.
There are 12 days left of your brother’s very first year of school, and today (Wednesday, May 10th), I received a note from his teacher.
A portion of it read as follows:
“I just wanted to give you a heads up that Caden was very upset today. He kind of shut down and was crying that he wanted to go home.”
There were a few more details to the letter (none that really add to the story), but that was the summary of the note.
Your brother was upset; he shut down; he started crying; and he wanted to come home.
I’m not gonna lie, I was terrified when I read the words. There was 45 minutes left in the day, and I had no clue what was going on–no idea what precipitated this, nor the state of his little heart.
Was he still crying? What happened? Did he lash out? Did someone hurt his feelings? Was he scared? Did someone say something? Was the math difficult? How was my baby boy?!?!
The minutes seemed to drag, so when the clock finally read 10:50 AM, I was out the door in a hot second. Honestly, I couldn’t get to that little brick building fast enough. Thank goodness the school is only two doors down from our front porch; mama couldn’t have handled a third door.
Scanning the line of huddled Kindergartner’s, I found your brother. As soon as our eyes met, he ran for me. Rubbing his head and squeezing his shoulders, I told him to wait while I chatted with his teacher.
Quickly, his teacher and I connected, allowing some space for a few more details to be shared.
“He handled his emotions really well; I was impressed. He used his words; he controlled himself; and he shared his frustrations. It’s obvious that you guys have worked with him on how to handle difficult emotions [lady, you don’t even know the half]. I felt so bad because I’ve never seen him so upset.”
She shared a few more details and then asked, “Did something happen before school?”
It hit my mama-heart right in the head!
THAT WAS IT.
YOU WERE IT.
Evie, it was you!!!
In that moment, I KNEW. Without a shadow of a doubt, I knew YOU were the trigger for your brother’s train wreck of a morning.
15 hours before that, at about 8 PM, you were brushing your teeth. Insistent and independent, you were standing on the bathroom toilet brushing your little teeth. You’ve done it a 101 times before, but last night you fell. Hitting the floor, you split your lip. Blood was everywhere, and there was a chunk of your lip missing. Since we weren’t home (Daddy and I were at a Yankees-Reds game in Cincinnati), your Papa did a beautiful job cleaning you up and soothing you. The bleeding had slowed down, and you were tired.
When Daddy and I returned, about 11:15 PM and we heard the news, we immediately ran to your room.
We weren’t sure what to do (didn’t want to over-react and didn’t want to under-react), so we decided to take the route of possibly “over-reacting.” With your blankie, monkey, and paci, your daddy wrapped you up and headed to the local ER. At midnight, you were admitted and by 3 AM, you were back home with a swollen lip, a new stuffed puppy that you named “Woofer-Stitch,” and three stitches on your upper lip.
Daddy said you were a champ. Apparently, you had the medical staff laughing and didn’t shed a tear through the entire process. As always, you took things in stride with a smile on your face…even in the middle of the night with a busted lip.
Your brother had slept through the whole thing, though he was there when the accident happened, but he didn’t know you had made a trip to the ER. So when he woke up this morning and I told him why you weren’t awake and why daddy was still asleep, he was bothered. He didn’t say a whole lot (that’s your brother), but I could tell he was upset. At one point, he told me he was “tired” and “wanted to stay home”–an excuse I had NEVER heard before.
He must be ready for summer, I thought, and simply moved on with the slicing of bananas and the pouring of Corn Chex.
Honestly, I didn’t think a whole lot about any of it. I sent him to school and went back to bed.
So when his teacher asked if something had happened before school, all the pieces fell right into place.
We finished up our brief conversation; I thanked her for her kind care; and I headed home with my boy’s hand in mine.
“Buddy, how was your day?”
“It was kinda bad,” he quietly responded.
“It was? What happened?”
In pretty much the exact same order, he unraveled the events of his morning at school. But then he added a detail that his teacher hadn’t known and I hadn’t heard.
“Mommy, I was just so worried about Evie. I just wanted to come home. I just wanted to be with you and her.”
Bursting into torrential tears and thundering sobs, he fell into my arms on the stairs of our porch.
Evie, he cried sad, fearful tears over you. Your brother was worried about you, afraid for you, and sick over you. He couldn’t concentrate; he wanted to leave a place he usually enjoys; and he got incredibly overwhelmed with all his sister-emotion. Evie, he crazy loves you.
So after we had processed through some more of his feelings, talked about the helpful ways he responded, and brainstormed how to handle future feelings in a public setting, he was more than ready to see you.
Throwing open the door, he immediately yelled for you.
And when you came bounding around that table with a stuffed puppy in your arms and a stitched lip, I could see the relief flood over him. His eyes brightened and he ran right for you.
“Evie, are you okay? Let me see your lip.”
He just needed to see you.
He needed to know you were okay.
He needed to know you were still Evie.
I know he might not talk a whole lot, hug a whole lot, or gush a whole lot of his feelings, but your brother is crazy about you, sweet girl. Absolutely crazy about you.
I know there will be times when you may question that, wonder about that, or down-right not believe that, but he does. He really, really does. Which is exactly why I wanted this to be in your memory stash…your sister-stash.
In fact, he loves you so much that tonight, after his very first T-Ball game, he saved his cupcake for you.
“Here Evie, here’s my cupcake. I know you didn’t get one, and I know your lip has been hurting, so here’s my cupcake. You can have mine; I don’t need to have one.”
Yes, Evie. THAT is the kind of crazy-love I’m talking about–the kind of crazy-love that causes him to not only have a train-wreck Wednesday, but also a crazy-love that is willing to give up his special, cupcake snack.
Hold fast to that, my sweet girl. Your brother loves you. He loves you very, very much.