We crossed the street hand in hand as Bigs ran up ahead of us to meet the neighborhood kids at the bus stop for the first day of school. Littles tugged my arm.
“Momma, do you think Bigsy will give me a hug? I’m really going to miss him.”
“You better ask him.”
She was barely whispering, but a lot was explained in those few soft words. Not an hour earlier, Littles had laid herself out on the center staircase of our house, naked and crying. It went on and on… dramatically. I had been getting ready for the day and not altogether paying attention to the cause of her anger and dismay. When asked the children gave an unclear account of what had transpired, but the source of Littles’ upset was her transgression against Bigs induced him to walk away.
Littles spent much of the morning leading up to her request as a hot crying mess. Her cereal had Cinnamon Toast Crunch in it. She didn’t want to wear her rainbow dress (that she wants to wear everyday.) She didn’t want to wear anything. She didn’t want her picture taken. A picture could be taken, but she wouldn’t stand next to Bigs. The list when on and on. Did I think she was tired? Yes. Did I consider for a moment that all the angst I felt about the transition we were going through, might be the same angst that was being processed by a 3 1/2 year-old? Not even close to coming into my mind.
As the whisper came out of her sweet lips, I felt guilty that I had forgotten about Littles. While Bigs was headed for a much celebrated and highly talked about first day of big kid school, Littles was going to day care for the first time without her big brother. She didn’t have to worry about lots of new changes. Littles was worried about one very big change. Looking through her eyes, her world was broken. She was grieving.
The bus stop was chaotic. Five school-agers, six parents, and three preschool siblings huddled on a small pad of sidewalk as cars zipped by. The bus arrived. Pictures were taken. Five people boarded the bus. Eight stood in a stupor wondering what had just happened. One broke down in enormous tears and screamed, “I didn’t get my hug from Bigsy.”
I let my girl down.
There was no consolation. The best we could do is say she could get a hug from him when he got off the bus, which she did.
Every morning since, the first words out of her mouth have been, “Will Bigsy give me a hug before he gets on the bus today?” I wonder how long this will go on. Will it become old hat? Will Bigs get annoyed? Will it be a ritual for them?
Sometimes it is hard to see our own traits in our children. My first thought was that Littles inherited my feelings being so close to the surface and not easily buried. I felt bad that I gave her that. Then a friend commented on my previous post about my ability to love deeply. Littles has watched me love deeply and is doing the same. That isn’t something to be ashamed of. It should be treasured.
Lao Tzu said, “Being deeply loved gives you strength. Loving deeply gives you courage.”
May my children find much strength and courage in life, our family, and each other.