To my oldest child,

I’ve been watching you with your little brother, and I want you to know how much I appreciate your help.

Like when I haven’t taken a shower for two days, and I ask you to play with him. I love how you scoop him up and take him to your room, showing him your intricate LEGO creations or teaching him the mechanics of loading and shooting a Nerf gun.

Thank you for expanding his world and demonstrating to him how things work.

Like when I broke a plate in the kitchen and your sister spilled an entire cup of milk in the dining room. You sprang into action and picked up your brother, shielding him from cutting himself on the glass and slipping on a puddle and falling.

Thank you for seeing when someone needs help and jumping to the rescue.

Like when I need to wash two days’ worth of dishes and it would go much more quickly without the toddler tugging on my sweatpants, screaming “Up!” I love how you offer him a popsicle and take him on the deck to enjoy a frozen treat with him.

Thank you for going outside, so I don’t have to clean up (another) sticky mess inside.

Like when we go to the pool and your middle-school friends are there, jumping off the diving board and calling for you to join them. I love how you still make time for your little brother, who adores you and only wants you to take him down the kiddie slide.

Thank you for being a wonderful big brother.

Like when it’s time for me to make dinner and the littlest one is already hungry—definitely hangry—I love how you play with him in the driveway, drawing chalk masterpieces or rolling a dump truck down the pavement over and over and over again.

Thank you for never hesitating to play—and I mean, really play.

Like when bedtime is so close and everyone is cranky. I love how you sit with your little brother and quietly read him a book or two, helping him wind down before going to sleep. Thank you for passing on the love of reading in our house.

I remember when I was pregnant with your brother, you told your sister, “When Mama has the new baby, you will feel like you’re invisible for a while.” I know it was innocent, childlike honesty, but it broke my heart to hear you say that. I’m sorry if you felt invisible when your sister was born and again later when your brother came along.

But I want you to know you have never been invisible to me. I see you—all your likes and dislikes, your interests, your heart.

I know you enjoy riding your bike and playing video games, but you are always so kind to stop doing those activities and help me with your brother. Even when I don’t ask, you are quick to act. I notice every time, I really do. I’m sorry I don’t always express my thanks with words.

You are seriously the best big brother your siblings could have. I know your sister might not admit it, but they both admire you.

And, like me, they miss you when you’re away on a camping trip or a band outing. You are calm like your dad, and we miss your quick thinking, your helping hands, and your loving spirit when you’re out having fun with friends.

For the countless times you’ve buckled your brother into his car seat, carried him around when he wants to be picked up, and shared your candy with him, thank you. I see you helping, and I appreciate it so much.

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April Leiffer Henry

April Leiffer Henry is a writer, wife, mother, and Diet Dr. Pepper addict. She has worked as a newspaper reporter, public relations specialist, and digital strategist. When she’s not writing, April is probably playing with her three children or hiding from them while eating dark chocolate. She also enjoys eating the delicious food her husband makes, reading good books, and listening to musicals.