A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17
We're at my in-laws, visiting, gathered in the living room.
And Zay is wiggling his tooth like wild.
We talk. Laugh. Connect. And he sits, fingers in his mouth, eyes full of hope, tugging and pushing wriggling away.
Then he extracts his hand from his mouth. And on the soft pad of his finger there's a pinkish smear of blood.
Isaiah starts to cry. Conversation stops. We watch him bolt to the bathroom for a look in the mirror.
"It's okay," I say when I catch him. He's perched on the counter. We both look at his open-mouth reflection. His tooth is cocked at an unfriendly angle. It juts out of place, an unsettling change in his sweet, pleasant face.
Zay is scared. He knows he's past the point of no return. He's never had a tooth plucked from his head.
So the tears come fast.
That's when we hear brother. Logan has come beside us. He's gentle and peaceful and his hand goes to Zay's shoulder in a brotherly way.
I watch their reflection.
I watch mine.
"Let me help you, Zay," Logan says. "C'mon. It's okay to trust."
Big brother is somewhat of a master at pulling teeth. As a kid, on a car trip, he'd torment a non-loose tooth until it lifted from his gums.
For a moment Zay questions this deal. I watch it wash over his face. I notice Logan's calm. And my own reflection? I'm lost in hope and wonder.
"Okay," Zay says.
Logan scoops his brother from the counter. They move to the living room, and Zay is wound around Logan's neck tight.
And they sit down.
Zay opens his mouth.
Logan offers soft words of encouragement. Then his fingers are in his brother's new smile and in a moment the tooth, this sweet pebble of childhood, is in Logan's big palm.
There's a celebration.
The whole family cheers.
A brother's trust has saved the day.
I'm not surprised when two days later, Zay's tooth's front-line twin is jutting at a weird angle, too. It needs to be pulled. It wobbles and moves with a thrust of the tongue.
What he's really saying, I think, is will you take care of me, brother? Will you make it all okay?
Logan comes. He pulls Zay to his lap again. The tooth is there. Then it is gone.
And the household celebrates again.
I've learned, this week, watching this sweet interaction between my big and my small. There
is a relationship. An understanding. As Logan said, a trust. It goes deep. It stands in the face of fear and it brings comfort and joy.
I hope, as my boys grow, that there will be a sweet web of trust among them. I hope that they'll stand together. I hope they'll link armor. I hope that they'll be brothers, no only in the blood way, but in the "I choose you" way, as Jonathan and David were brothers of the heart. I hope that my boys will trust one another and that they will be trustworthy, too.
It's my prayer that this trust-in-troubled-times will be a lifelong thing.
That it will stretch deep into my boys' lives.
Baby teeth and beyond.