Austen is the most loving little boy! He always wants to rub someone's ears to fall asleep. Even when he is not tired he is constantly touching an arm, leg, face, whatever skin is exposed! Aus fell asleep in our bed watching a movie and I laid Addy beside him. This is how I left them.
An hour later, this is what I found. They had found one another and snuggled. How sweet!
Ava and Addy, you can tell by Ava's expression how proud she is to be a big sister.
This picture was taken right before Ava was born. Aiden was 4 years old and Aus was 21 months. They still share a twin bed, they have separate beds, but they want to sleep together. It's fine with us because we know it won't last forever.
Last year at Wye Mountain, Ava was so little, I can't believe how much she has grown in a year.
Last spring at Garvan Woodland Gardens. This picture is the definition of brotherly love!
Aiden and Ava one morning before church. No, I didn't type that wrong. It is Ava in this pic, not Addy!
A few weeks ago, we thought it would be nice if Aiden spent some time with Daddy on his own. Austen had fallen asleep and we told him about our grand idea for the next morning. We asked him if he would like to go to "coffee" with Daddy. (Occasionally, Jake goes to "coffee" with Preacher and other preachers from our area.) Aiden immediately asked if Austen was going. We told him no, we thought it could be a special day for him and Daddy. Aiden told us he was not going if Aus couldn't go. He wanted to spend time with his Daddy but he knew how disappointed Austen would be when he woke up and they were gone without him. It was so precious to Jake and I that Aiden would think of his brother's feelings. Those boys love each other so much! Yes, they fight, argue, sometimes hit, but they are always so willing to forgive and make up. They are best friends.
Now, I am going to get on my soap box. When are siblings not best friends? What causes siblings to not be close? When they are replaced by a peer and it is no longer "cool" to hang out with baby brother/sister. I think it is pretty ironic that most sibling rivalries rear their ugly head around age 5. Most people associate this with the age/independence, but I believe it has to do with being sent off to school. With this new schedule comes a lot of change, responsibility and independence. Responsibility is one thing, and helps build character, but independence gives a child a sense of superiority when given too soon. Kids have to grow up too early when put in the school systems, if not they would never survive. When an older sibling goes off to school and the younger is left behind the bond is weakened and sometimes severed for life. The older is now better than the younger and self-sufficient. The older sibling answers to the school and parents only get to parent when the kids are at home (which is significantly less than the time spent at school.) The bond between Aiden and Austen is the sweetest and most innocent thing and I can't imagine how heartbroken and betrayed a younger sibling must feel when the older one goes off to school and replaces them with a new best friend. I think of my relationship with Christ. If I don't spend every day praying, reading and studying, I am not in fellowship like I should be. What about other relationships? If Jake and I don't share our hearts and feelings with each other everyday, we tend to disagree more and no longer feel like we have become one. We become distant, cold and if this were to go on long enough it would be detrimental to our marriage.
I believe the relationship our children have with each other is the most important one they will have on this earth until they find their future spouse. Mommy and Daddy are close and important too, but we are just temporary in their lives. Siblings will be in their lives the longest.
It is our job as parents is to raise them, not anyone else. We want them to be independent God-fearing adults who will love and serve Him. At some point we will have to cut the apron strings, and that is when our parenting is tested. Don't get me wrong, I will always be there for my children when asked, but it will not be my responsibility to "mother" them after they marry. What about a sibling? Can they always be a mentor? Yes. Can they be an open ear and shoulder to cry on? Absolutely, and they should. Our prayer is that our children will always have this special bond. Home schooling strengthens this bond and we are able to teach our children the qualities God desires from us. I can't imagine how different the boys' relationship would be if Aiden was away from home five days a week. Aiden enjoys helping with his brother and sisters, he talks about the times he will be able to "teach" them. This is not why we home school, it is just one of the many added benefits. I am so thankful that God has led us to home school and my prayer is that we can continue for all the many reasons we started.