A voice cuts across the loud splashing of swim lessons and I turn to see my six-year-old Haitian son, Kelson. His smile beams toward me as he excitedly calls out that his brother, Daniel, also age six, has just passed the swim test. Daniel will now leave Kelson behind as he moves up to the next level, a level which both brothers have been eagerly anticipating and hoping to move into. The humble cheering from Kelson is a treasure stored in my mama heart, and after swim lessons we celebrate with donuts. It is a celebration for two brothers—Daniel having passed the swim test and Kelson having valiantly cheered for Daniel as he moved ahead.
This showing of kindness is not unique as Daniel and Kelson often exchange encouragements and in so doing provide good examples to their youngest Haitian brother, Richardson, who is a combination of sweet snuggler and mischievious rascal.
On a rainy day in the Pacific Northwest, a glance out my kitchen window reveals Richardson with his feet planted in rubber boots holding a stick up towards the kitchen window. Dangling from the end of the stick is a rubber lizard tail, recently unearthed and covered in dirt and slime. Richardson slowly waves his stick as he stares intently at Kelson and Daniel, who are enjoying a snack just inside the window. Catching sight of the slimy tail, the snacking brothers loudly exclaim, “Ewww! Yucky!!!” This charged response ignites glee in Richardson. His brown eyes widen, his face breaks into a smile, and laughter tumbles out. In addition to special surprises, this youngest brother knows how to provide cute smiles and antics that win favor from all five of his older siblings, who in turn are quick to offer help when little brother is down and out.
Howling in pain, Richardson holds his freshly scraped knee as Daniel quickly runs to the rescue, offering words of comfort and a compassionate arm draped around Richardson’s neck. Daniel says of his new little brother, “I really, really like him. I hope he never leaves and stays here forever until he dies. Then I’ll be in heaven with him.”
Days of full activity lead into nights of deep, recharging sleep as the three boys prepare for new adventures . . . adventures which will hold new opportunity for the brotherhood trio to lend encouragement, share laughter, and offer a helping hand.