Gideon took my hand and looked up at me as we walked together down the shoulder of the road. I kicked a rock. He kicked a rock. Finally, he said something.
“Dad, did you ever, when you were young, have your dad go to work and you got stuck in the house with a mom and two sisters?”
I chucked at this. “No, that never happened to me. Why do you ask?”
He shrugged, “I don’t know. That just happens to me a lot and I don’t like it really. It’s all girls.”
“Right…” I agreed, kicking another stone into the ditch. “Yeah, but you know. I never had any sisters. And there are some really good things about having sisters instead of brothers.”
He made a face that told me he wasn’t completely convinced.
“It’s true,” I said. “Your sisters love you and they take care of you. They get you things and make sweet things for you. Do you know what uncle Jeremy used to do?”
“Well,” I thought for a moment. “Not always those sorts of things. Okay. Uncle Jeremy is my big brother, right? So, when we got home from school every day, and my parents weren’t home, he would be in charge of taking care of me.” I laughed to myself. “But you see, he didn’t want to take care of an annoying little brother. So, he sometimes would drag me back into the back bedroom of the house and tie me up and then shove me under a mattress, and then he wouldn’t untie me until he knew Mom and Dad were going to be home. Then he told me I wasn’t allowed to tell our parents or he would hurt me the next day. That’s the type of thing a big brother does.”
He considered this for a while. “I understand, Dad,” he said, kicking at a rock and missing.
“Good,” I said and I squeezed his little hand in mine.
And then he wistfully looked down the road and sighed, “I wish I was a big brother…”
I stopped walking. “Okay, see, I think you missed my point, little man.”