Guess what? Tomorrow is your big brother's 10th birthday. I know you're excited because you keep reminding him of the fact that you're never going to catch up to being as old as he is. And you think he's the best brother ever.
As a gift to Ethan, I want to tell you, Isaac, a helpful tip on being the best little brother ever. You certainly do your job well. You pester, repeat, sing things like "nah-nah-nee-boo-boo" and run away laughing. You tattle on him if he doesn't brush his teeth for exactly 2 minutes. You ride your bike right in front of him when he's trying to shoot a basket. You jump up and down in front of the TV when he's in the middle of beating a level on a video game. You yell "YES!" into his ear while you're practically on top of him, watching him play Angry Birds Go! You forget that everyone will hear you in the auditorium when you are watching Ethan at his school concert and you say a little too loudly, "THERE'S MY BROTHER, THERE'S ETHAN!" and you make him blush and shake his head. You truly love out loud, Isaac.
Here's my tip: Never stop loving out loud.
I have learned so much since Ethan was born. I learned that I needed to let go of many things. Ethan taught me how to trust. And then you came along, Isaac. You are a great teacher of patience. I know. I have been your student. But I have always witnessed how you have educated your brother in how to grow in love, and he has been gracious and humble in putting you first in many ways. It is really, truly beautiful how you both have made me better.
I see the moments when he hugs you as you are saying goodnight. I cherish the mental image of you both splashing in the sprinkler in the summertime, laughing and being silly, the 3 years between you nothing more than a number. It makes my heart full when I hear you both reading together, cuddled up and giggling over some boyish inside joke or wrestle in the living room. I am proud when you help one another do simple things, like clean up, without being told. I love when Ethan bends down to you, and whispers in your ear. Joy wells up when I watch you both sit and talk out your issues through tears and frustration on the steps in the kitchen. I'm thankful that Ethan is ok with having you around even when his older friends are--he is a cool guy like that, isn't he? I am excited to see how your friendship grows.
So, as Ethan will always be your older brother, I ask that you respect him. Encourage him and tell him that you love him all the time. Ask for his advice, even if he has none to give. Tell him you appreciate his patience and understanding. Even if he acts like he doesn't listen. Keep on. Because he is listening.
The best gift to give your big brother is you. Just you. Because you and your big brother were the best gifts to me.