Last night we heard an incredibly strange sound coming from up the stairs. It was a crying of sorts but it sounded more like an animal, caught in a trap, attempting to chew its own leg off, sobbing the cry of the deeply wounded. I could not tell which child was making the noise. I turned and took the stairs two at a time.
At the top of the stairs, holding his ear and making the mortally injured sound, was The Rock Star. Choking back the strange sobs he managed to utter, "Matthew. Ear. Drum stick," in between gulping for air. Standing behind him, holding the stick, stood The Little Buddy. He had the most distressed, remorseful, terrified look on his face. I gathered Garrett into my arms and tried to look at his ear. Matthew didn't wait even two seconds before he quietly started saying, over and over again, "Sorry, Mama. Sorry, Mama." (It doesn't matter who he's apologizing to, Matthew adds Mama to the end of it.) As he repeated it and Garrett cried in my arms, Matthew's eyes filled with tears.
Troy came up right behind me. He hadn't heard the apology or seen the look of horror on Matthew's face so he took the stick out of his hand and was about to commence the scolding. I quickly explained that, what with the look on his face and the instant loop of sorries, I didn't think Matthew needed to be punished. I figured he pretty much knew he'd really hurt his brother and was, in fact, actually devastated.
And then it happened. Matthew dissolved into a sobbing mess of sorrow that reminded me of the time I accidentally smacked my good friend, Cassie, in the mouth with a baseball bat. I was seven. I didn't check behind me before I took a practice swing. She cried a lot. I cried more. That was the first and last season of softball I ever played. As for Garrett, his ear lobe had a swollen knot in it. We iced it and he was back to playing in no time.
Matthew, however, didn't bounce back quite as quickly. He stood by his brother's side while I iced his ear. He offered his apologies over and over and kissed Garrett several times. Personally, I was kind of thrilled. There's a compassionate bone in that kid's body after all.
I was looking over some of our adoption paperwork last night. In one particular evaluation Troy is referred to as the Prospective Adoptive Father. I am referred to as the Prospective Adoptive Mother. Garrett, well, he's referred to as Matthew's brother. Pure. Simple. Not a Prospective Adoptive Brother. Just his brother.
And it's been that way from the very beginning. Brothers hit each other. They yell. They compete. But as long as they cry and kiss and say sorry--and mean it--when they hurt each other, I will consider the day a success.