I was sitting at the kitchen table with Dove, helping her with questions in the first-grade workbook we bought to give her a boost with her school work, when Bear, who is 10, sat down with us too. He jumped effortlessly into the role of teaching assistant, explaining math problems to his youngest sister like an expert, quick with a high-five and a smile when she answered correctly, and patiently asking her to look again if she added wrong.
The three of us leaned over the workbook, Dove’s unruly, curly blonde head in the middle, watching her write her answers in large, round numbers and growing increasingly excited as she got more and more of them right. Bear suddenly lifted his head, looked very serious, and said to us, “I love you guys.”
I was a bit startled at his intensity. I told him, “I love you too.”
He watched me for a moment, then turned back to Dove and her math problems.
I would love to know exactly what marched through his mind at that moment. I will be content, however, to know simply that they included me and that he felt safe enough in our home to share it.