There have been a few times in the short time that I've known him that Ethen has done something so sincere that it makes my lip quiver with pride.
He frequently does things that make me smile with pride - looking for his dad when he hits a home run, giving my mom a hug goodbye, challenging me to Trivia Crack. And last night, as Alex was rolling with laughter, Ethen pointedly looked at J and me to make sure we were seeing how happy his brother was.
But that's not what I'm talking about.
The first was several months ago. He took the prayer before dinner, and I was so touched by his sincerity (and gratefulness for algebra) that "Ethen, I love you," spilled out for the first time.
The second was was an email received last Friday after Ethen's first track meet.
Subject: Your Son...
I wanted you to know, I was completely impressed with your son last night. My poor daughter was “elected” to run the 1600m at last night’s track meet, she is not a distance runner so she finished last and was actually lapped. On her final lap she was so far behind everyone I thought she would not finish, but then this group of 3 boys ran along side her all the way. My original thought was “how classy” these boys are helping and encouraging her. Then when we got in the car I asked who they were, so please give him a big hug and thanks from me.
Neither one of us saw it happen. I had left the meet to take Alex to basketball practice. J had left the meet minutes before since Ethen was done with his events.
We talked about it at dinner that night. He saw her struggling, so he rounded up some guys and said, "Let's go." He doesn't have a crush on this girl; he just wanted to help his teammate. I read the email out loud at the table. (I had to get special permission to have my phone out.) I told him with a quivering lip that he changed this girl's night. He turned it around. Instead of being teased and ridiculed, she was encouraged and cheered. It mattered to her family so much that they talked about it as soon as they got in the car AND her dad sent the email. Finally [In my most emphatic voice], she will remember that race for the rest of her life. As something positive.
It kind of reminded me of this story, except that there were hundreds of people watching.
I nodded towards Alex, "Are you proud of your brother right now?" With big sincere eyes he nodded and replied, "Yes."
We celebrated with Reese's Pieces peanut butter cookies and a game of Monopoly Empire, after which everyone remained congregated in the living room, like no one wanted to break the spell.
(I bet my mom's eyes are watering right now. Any takers?)