Raising My Brother

“For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalms 139:13-16)

When I was younger, my parents had this big wooden bookshelf that I assume was handmade. For us children, it was the Lego, Barbie, and Polly Pocket playground of our childhood. Countless hours were spent running toys across this bookshelf. This was particularly true for me and my brother. The encyclopedias became ramps for the cars, a kitchen table was set up for Barbie to have tea with her friends, and many pasture fences were erected for the horses. Our imaginations had no limit, and those shelves echoed from the bursts of laughter that emerged from our game playing. I am sure that these same shelves – if they could speak — would tell the stories of the fighting, nit-picking and crying that also came with sibling playtime.

Indeed, my brother was such a tease. Always taller than me, he would hold the toys above my head so I couldn’t reach them. He would hide my toys where I was never going to find them. Cutting Barbie’s hair was the least of my worries and yes, years later, I still remember the day he pulled the head off my beloved baby doll Maggie. (As a side note, I have never been able to find my baby doll and I assume that is also a result of my brother). But his antics did not end there. More times than not he would lock me out of the house for hours when we got off the bus and then laugh mercilessly at my cruel fate. It wasn’t just the teasing though. He was the most competitive person I knew.

I’m sure I would have relished this fact if I was a boy, since then I would always have someone to compete with. But as a girl this competitive streak was terrible. He would beat me at everything. He could run faster, jump higher, climb a tree better, hit the ball harder, and aim better. You name it and he was better than me. The only thing I was able to do better than him was cartwheel. I could always cartwheel better than him. My one and only sweet victory!

Fifteen years later, I am now raising a “miniature” version of my brother. His name is Zachary and he is my middle child. He is my child who loves to compete. If you praise one child for something, then he will be right there doing it too just so he can show the other kid up. He “drives” his dinky car an inch away from my wall just because I told him not to drive them on my wall. He will ask a million questions and want to know the answer to each one immediately. He can push every button testing my patience a hundred times a day. With red hair and brown eyes he is determined to succeed. I often say that he lives to push the boundaries.

In this context, I have caught him holding toys away from his siblings, hiding their favorite characters, stealing the remotes and he has even locked them outside. He learns new things quickly. But he also learns how to use these to his advantage even quicker. In fact, in a million ways he reminds me of my brother. So much so that it feels like I am reliving my childhood all over again. As a consequence, there are times I forget that I’m the parent and not the sibling.

Over the last three years, there have been many times that I have asked the Lord to take control and cuddle this little boy of mine. And undoubtedly, there will be many more prayers like this one to come. I can do this because although Zachary is my little boy from birth, he is ultimately a son of the Most High. As such, I am thankful that God gives me the extra patience needed for him because it’s in times of extra patience that I realize he is so much like my brother in my younger years.

But there is another reason as well. I know that through the good times and bad, I can always rely on God’s faithfulness for this little boy, even when he takes great pleasure in driving me crazy. I can trust God’s infinite goodness and grace to make sure that the path my son travels will always be the destiny that God had intended for him from the beginning. I also know that 15 years later my brother is one of my best friends and that gives me hope for my little man.

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