Having a brother who is more than 15 years younger than you can be shocking to some people.
A lot of times people think you’re my son. I politely correct them and then you launch into a conversation with them about dogs or trucks or insects or one of your many other passions. What’s even more shocking than your friendliness to strangers or our large age gap, are the lessons I’ve had the privilege of learning with you as my little brother.
Here are a few I’ve learned that I hope you never forget:
1. When you were born it felt like the world was ending.
I was a dramatic teenager who thought life as I knew it was over. I was right, my life changed drastically, but for the better. Most of my happiness and success can be traced back to you. When things change it’s easy to try and fight against the grain, but sometimes we can’t control change and we also can’t see the outcomes from our immediate point of view. Take change with grace and grow with the times, you may be surprised by how life plays out.
2. You have the greatest sense of adventure I have ever seen.
You can turn a sandbox into an archeological dig, a playground into a tropical jungle, a pool into an oceanic dive, and a car ride into a rocket launch into a faraway galaxy. As you get older your sense of creativity may turn into logic and practicality, but please never stop looking at things beyond what everyone says they are. Keep searching for excitement in normalcy.
3. You greet everyone as if they are a friend.
Your kindness is unmatched by the adult world and sometimes not everyone knows how to respond to such an outgoing little kid. Do not mimic their silence. Not everyone will always know how to take you or even like you; show them the same smile you would otherwise and move on to the next person. Everyone has something to teach others and they may just not be ready to learn your lesson yet.
4. You are six going on sixteen.
Your kindness and creativity are matched only by your stubbornness, and while this can be incredibly frustrating when trying to instill discipline I hope you carry this quality with you into adulthood. Never let anyone deter you from your path. Say no when something doesn’t feel right. Say yes when it does. Listen to your gut. Go with your instinct and your passions and let know one stop you.
You’re only six years old right now, but you have more compassion and spirit than I see in many my own age, and older. Sometimes this makes me scared for you. I never want you to lose the enthusiasm you have for life and the warmth you have towards everyone you meet.
I want you to grow and learn and be successful in life, but I also want you to stay young and innocent and protected from the world because it isn’t always a place where happiness thrives. As you get older I hope you never lose these qualities that every adult needs but somehow left in their childhood. These are the lessons you’ve taught me in the last six years, and if you ever start to forget, I will be happy to re-teach them to you, little brother.