The affection being shown by Easton to his big brother in recent weeks is astounding.
Up until a couple months ago, I would say Easton had finally started to merely tolerate his brother hugging or touching him. And by “tolerate,” I mean “not scream bloody murder.”
But lately…it’s like something clicked in him. Something that said, “This other kid that’s around me all the time, the one that’s in my face and talks all the time – I like him A LOT.”
I snapped this trio of pictures with my phone last month.
When Easton climbed up onto the couch next to his brother, that’s when I grabbed my phone to take a picture, because even that was a rare sight. Then, he climbed on top of him and gave him a hug. I don’t think I even need to explain the feeling that was emanating from him. The smile on his face says it all.
Now, he does things like this so often that I’ve heard Keegan calmly say, “Um, Easton, that’s nice that you love me and stuff…but please get off.” (However, the smile on Keegan’s face as he’s saying it leaves a hint of pure satisfaction that it’s happening.)
There really has never been any doubt that Keegan loves his little brother.
But, it has been difficult for Keegan to understand the lack of reciprocation from him. Here’s the part that amazes me: he NEVER gave up on Easton. He didn’t stop showing him affection, even when Easton would yell at him in return. He didn’t stop trying to get Easton to play with him, even when Easton would ignore him, or scream when Keegan would get too close. He didn’t stop saying things like, “Easton is the best brother” or “Easton is our sweet boy, right Mom?”
Every morning, while I’m getting ready for work, Keegan crawls into my side of the bed. This morning, Easton crawled up there with him and nestled in. Definitely one of the most defining brotherly bonding moments I’ve seen in my house to date, and quite possibly my favorite candid snapshot of my boys.
It might sound strange, but having one “normal” child and one with autism, there was a time when I thought that Keegan wouldn’t really feel like he had a sibling in the same way that most people do. That he would still kind of feel alone. That he wouldn’t have that cool bond with his brother. That he would always try to show Easton he loves him, but never get that feeling in return.
The above photo gives me hope that I was dead wrong.