The story really begins in November 2006. I was leisurely walking on Lane Avenue in Columbus when my cell phone rang. "Hello." "Mrs. Ely, it's Katie. It is sorta like raining in your family room..." But before we get to that chapter... let's fast forward to January 15, 2008.
Sarah has been doing lots of cooking in school and now she wants to make me a cake for my birthday. We are in the midst of preparing the house for some minor construction to repair the leak that Katie encountered that November day. The last thing I needed was to take an evening to make an additional mess in the kitchen. So I tell her I appreciate the thought but I really don't need a cake. Matt the little charming brother says, "Mom, we can do it ourselves. I will help Sarah." I'm thinking, sure, famous last words, but give them the go ahead. I continue on with packing boxes and hauling them to the basement.
A few minutes later, I look in the kitchen and stop dead in my tracks. Sure enough, they are making a cake. Matt has gathered all the ingredients and is letting Sarah do most of the work.
How proud she is. And how proud I am of Matt. What a great little teacher he is being.
When Sarah's arm starts to get tired from mixing, he doesn't take it from her and do it, he supports her.
Sarah usually hates cake batter. But Matt is licking the beater, so she is too.
I can see in her eyes she is taking her cues directly from him.
Here he is again. Not doing the job, but supporting her in learning to do the job.
And now she is doing it herself, not perfect, yet he instinctively knows not to take over. If I was helping to make that cake, I would want the icing to be perfect. And that is not such a good teacher. I have now forgotten all about the packing project I was working on. I am busy watching this exchange between Matt and his sister. Chronologically she is 18, he is 11. Sarah has always been in his life. She was seven when he was born. She didn't spend as many nights at this age in the hospital as she had in her earlier years, but enough that he knows what it is like to be displaced and forgotten at times. He could be resentful. He could be miserably put out that he has to help his teenage sister make a cake. But instead, he is guiding with strong hands and nurturing with wisdom well beyond his years. Teaching his mother that perfect isn't in the spread of the icing, but rather perfect comes from unconditional love within the heart. Yes, this will be the most perfect birthday cake ever.