It was one of those afternoons.
It shouldn’t have been—not with the promise of an after-school trip through the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-up window looming—but it was.
Edgar’s first transgression in the car happened within moments and led to a consequence. The consequence led to a reaction. The reaction led to another consequence. And so it went.
When it was time for our trip to Dunkin Donuts, the wheels had come off the proverbial bus and Edgar, even if the request for his order had been proffered, wouldn’t have heard it so loud were his protestations. As we drove to the window and picked up two treats instead of three, he was completely beside himself.
We drove. Edgar’s tears flowed audibly as his brothers silently munched. I could sense they were uncomfortable. Sad even. At every red light I kept a vigil through my rearview mirror, watching their collective body language and trying to read between their lines.
Edgar’s heaves subsided to gentle tears. The car became quiet. And then I saw Oscar in my rearview mirror surreptitiously and wordlessly hand his brother half of his prized pumpkin muffin.
Edgar eagerly gobbled it up and mouthed the words, “Thank you, Oscar” to his brother.
August, from the third row, tapped Edgar on the shoulder and handed over at least two bites’ worth of his donut. Edgar turned around and whispered, “Thank you, August.”
I asked Oscar about this tonight. I explained to him that part of Edgar’s consequence was losing a special treat and that his giving part of his muffin to his brother, while generous, could be construed as undermining my efforts. Of course, I knew this was far from Oscar’s intention having witnessed the scene, though through a mirror and in reverse, firsthand, but I wanted to hear his thoughts.
He said, “Mom, this is just what we do. You know, when one of us gets in trouble, we help each other. It’s nothing against you or your consequence. It’s just being brothers. I wanted to help my brother.” Then, on cue, “Am I in trouble?”
I couldn’t answer him. Instead, I thought of these three boys whom destiny selected to be brothers—three boys who, if not for the magic of adoption, would not have even known one another, here today, fully bonded and looking out for each other in ways that leave me speechless, in ways that bring me enormous comfort.
I turned to Oscar and said, “No, you’re not in trouble. What you are is a good brother. You’re all good brothers.”
Oscar smiled, and I basked in this world they’ve created for each other, this fraternal support system the details of which I knew nothing about until tonight. I’ve always known they are ours and we are theirs. And now I know each of my sons belongs to the other, is ready to extend comfort—whether in the form of a muffin or a hand or an ear—when the world deals them an unpleasant hand.
If there is anything more than this, I surely don’t know what it is.