Thoughtfulness is usually not at the top of the list when it comes to enumerating the qualities of four-year-olds. At least not the four-year-old in our household. Oh, don’t get me wrong—the Boy is a (usually) very lovely boy, but let’s just say that it’s not all the time, and especially not when it comes to his sister. He’s so different from her in this way: I can’t remember there ever being a time when she was not a sharer, or thinking of others, or generally being an overall nice kid. When it comes to her brother, her parents, her grandparents whom she only sees once a year, or even strangers, you can count on her to be the considerate one.
This is to say that the Boy has his own lovely moments, but they don’t come often (or at least, not as often as we’d like to see, considering what we’ve witnessed in his sibling). And for the past year, it seems that he’d rather be the annoying little pest brother than the kind, loving brother. But then, every once in a while, he surprises you with the smallest, simplest gesture that comes so unexpectedly that you say to yourself, “Who is this kid?”
In our backyard is what we call the kids’ clubhouse, which is really just the top part of their playground structure. We’ve fixed it up nicely with a picnic table, a hanging basket of faux flowers, and a canopy to keep off the afternoon sun. It’s really lovely, and the type of place I wish I’d had as a kid (which is why I suppose I had made a big effort in making it nice for them). So the other day, we were all taking our lunch outside, and the Boy asked if Mama and Sister would like to come join him at the table in the clubhouse. We both agreed, and climbed up, but then I realised that at that time of day, the sun was hitting at an angle where half the clubhouse would be shaded, and half not. This wasn’t really too big of a deal to us, but the Boy must have had a moment of realisation too, and immediately said something surprising to his sister, without any of us mentioning out loud the sun.
“[Sister], you can have my seat. It’s in the shade. You usually take the sunny side, so now it’s my turn.”
She and I looked at each other in amazement. Could this have come from the mouth of the same boy who doesn’t share his cookie, kicks his sister, and head-butts people for no reason? Yes, he may be quite the difficult little brother at this age, but every once in a while, he astonishes you with a small act of kindness.