My son has always been an emotionally sensitive child. Even before he could express himself verbally, his expressions conveyed a world full of compassion and feelings. When other children cry, he cries aloud too. He also insists on checking to see what’s wrong. He shares his food and often requests a group hug when our family reunites after a time apart. He cares deeply for his family and everyone in it.
A month ago, my younger brother, Thomas (Tommy), was critically injured on the job. The case was traumatic and covered in the press.
I struggled with how I would tell my son. He deeply loves his Tito (Philippine word for uncle) Tommy. The day Tommy did taser training at work, he shrugged it off and came to babysit Little Blake that evening, even though his legs were sore. They have a special bond, and I knew that Blake deserved to know.
The night before going to the hospital to meet family and drop off some items, I decided to be as factual as possible, so he would not be scared of the unknown. “Tito Tommy has an Owwie on his neck,” I told him. “Tito Tommy has Owwie.” He repeated and nodded.
The next day, our large extended family gathered in the hospital, where we FaceTimed up to Tommy, who was only allowed one visitor per day. After talking, Blake mentioned the “owwie” and then continued playing with his other cousins in the lobby, seemingly unfazed.
That night, as we said our goodnight prayers, Blake remembered “Tito Tommy Owwie, ” so we prayed for Tommy’s healing. Blake nodded and then said, “Tito Tommy happy.” We prayed that Tito Tommy would feel happy soon. I was surprised by how much his young mind had absorbed from conversations my husband and I had and from our hospital visit. He is only three years old. We continued the prayer for Tommy for several days.
On the day that Tommy was set to be discharged from the hospital, Little Blake had a cold, so we decided he should stay home with Josh. We blew up balloons to bring over and decorate the house with, and my son proudly selected colors. As we drove to the house, we made a stop which upset him greatly. “Ba-Oons! “Ba-Oons for Tito Tommy!” He exclaimed. I reassured him that we were still bringing Tito Tommy the balloons, and he settled back in his car seat. We dropped off the balloons, and Josh brought Blake home to put him to bed so that I could stay for Tommy’s arrival.
The next morning, several news stations had covered Tommy’s homecoming. Knowing that my son hadn’t seen it yet, I pulled one of the videos up on my phone. Tommy smiled and waved as he prepared to exit the doors and go home. The first words Blake said were, “Tito Tommy, Happy!” And of course, he insisted we watch it ten more times.
I’m so thankful for my kind, caring son. He brings me to tears with his thoughtfulness and just how much he understands and wants to bring joy to those suffering. Some relatives tell me boys need to “man up” or even bring up the “sissies” word. I disagree. My son cries when he is hurting and comforts others as they cry. We welcome feelings in our house. We are working on understanding our emotions to make them less scary. If he has tears over a breakup as a teen, I hope he still feels safe to cry them with me, as he has since he was a baby. Someday, when those doubtful relatives are older and need compassion, I hope he will be there, with balloons or flowers, as he did yesterday at the tender age of three. My son is sensitive and kind, and that’s wonderful. I’ve never been more proud to see a glimpse of the future man my sweet, sensitive son will become.