I see you in the back of our minivan. You are strapped into your carseat and you are trying so hard to crank your neck over the high back to join in on the conversation your two big brothers are having behind you. All the cranking and trying is frustrating for you because you are strapped in too tight and those big boys in the third row can’t seem to hear you anyway.
I see you there. The third brother but not the baby. The baby sister you hold dear is sitting on your right.
I see you sitting there with those light up Spiderman sandals. The ones I pulled out for you just a week ago. I know those sandals have seen two spring and summers before they have graced your feet. I know they are a whole size too big. But for now, you don’t seem to mind. I think of the pants you wear that are almost always worn down to their last threads around the knees. The pants that have reprised for the third time. The shirts that have been stained from years past. The hand-me-downs that are worn with grass stains and stories from previous summers.
I wondered today if you’ll ever grow up and think about why you almost never had a new pair of shoes or a new pair of pants. I wondered if you will remember when your shoes felt a little too big.
I was sad for you for a minute because I know how this kind of thing can develop in the story of a child and get tangled up in hurt and pain. I was sad because I know you never get first pick when it comes to Halloween Costumes or which movies we watch.
Being the third brother, I know, is tough. It is tough now and it will be tough as you grow into a boy and a man.
I think about you and those light up shoes that are one size too big, your pants with holes and your shirts with stains.
I hope when think of those shoes you will remember the hand-me-downs, you love those light up shoes. But I hope you won’t stop there. I hope that you will not measure your worth on the things you had that were brand new with stickers and tags versus the things that you had that came up from storage and were a reprise of you big brother’s last summer.
I want you to always know the big love that we all have for you. Even brand new shoes and pants off the rack could never express how much big love we have for the third brother with those light up shoes that feel just a little too big.
I want to give you the world. I want you to feel important and unique and worthy. I just don’t go about it by buying you new shoes or new clothes every season.
My love for you is deeper and richer than things.
My love is more deeper than shoes that are one size too big.
My love is richer than reprised pants.
My love sees you. My love sits with you when you are sad and laughs with you when you are happy. My love holds you when you are sick and carries you up the stairs every night.
My love will stay with you and never leave, even when your feet grow up and out of those little light up shoes and you move on to more new-to-you shoes and new-to-you seasons.
As you grow you will learn that these things are worth so much more than clothes with new tags or shoes fresh out of the box.
I’m not a third child so I don’t know what it is like to be stuck somewhere in the middle or towards the end with the shoes that are a little too big and the reprised pants. But I wondered today. I saw you today.
I saw that perfectly unique and special boy who sits right behind the passenger seat of my minivan. That special boy who gets to give new adventures to those shoes that are too big, new stains to the old shirts, and the one who gets to tear the hole all the way through on those reprised pants.
I see you. And you are deeply and richly loved. Much more than shiny new shoes or a fresh pair of pants.