24 May 2012

On Brothers and Hope

I was doing the drop-off rounds the other morning, and I saw them again: the big brother, taking his little sister to school. He's a teenager, probably 16 or 17; she's in kindergarten or maybe grade 1 (small, at any rate). He used to just walk her along the road, holding her hand to keep her safe from the cars whizzing past them. Then one day, I saw him zipping down the hill to the highschool on a small bike, you know, the kind that's almost kid-sized; he wasn't wearing a helmet (which is illegal around here). And the next time I saw them, he was riding the bike (still sans helmet) up to the elementary school, with little sister balanced on the bar in front of him, obviously enjoying the ride!

And then on that same day, there was another big brother, probably grade 6 or 7, grabbing hold of his little brother just before he ran out onto the road into traffic; he looked just a bit exasperated, but he was taking care of the little guy, and they carried on walking up to the school.

And then there's the dad who walks his son to school every morning - dad wears the backpack; it's probably a bit heavy for the kid.

I see them, and I go "Aww. That's so sweet!" But then it occurred to me that if you asked me how many big sisters were walking their younger siblings to school, I wouldn't have a clue. Ditto for all the moms by the side of that road every morning.

You see, it's because they're men (even the grade 7 boy is a young man, really), that it touches my mush buttons to see them looking after little people. We're so used to seeing women caring for children, we don't even notice them (or maybe you do, but I sure don't). But men doing the same, that's still unusual. Especially doing it in a way that you can see. Often, good-dad skills are hidden, consisting in doing things that take them away from visibility around their kids - if, for example, dad does his job by doing his job, i.e. by going to work and providing for his family's needs financially, more often than not he's not physically there. And it's easy to assume that it means he's not involved in the kids' lives. Which isn't true, in most cases, but it can look that way.

So to see those young men walking their little siblings to school, or giving them rides on their bikes (even without helmets), it not only touches my mushy heart, it gives me hope. When they're full-grown men, they won't be ashamed of walking their own kids to school, probably even carrying their backpacks (if they don't have one of their own on their back); they won't be walking away from their responsibilities. They'll be the kind of men who will take care of their kids, visibly or behind the scenes. And that, folks, is the true reason behind my "aww" reaction when I see those school-walkers in the morning.

And by way of illustration, here is Steve with his BIG brother, Benjamin (not walking to school, though; they never do that).

Life, the Universe, and Big Brothers. Hope is a beautiful thing.


  1. Awwww... Is Benjamin soft and plushy. I always thought it would be great to have a big brother but three younger ones isn't so bad. See you soon.

  2. Yup, he's really soft & squishy. Very huggable.