I just peeked into the mancave to see if Joshua was still asleep. Sure enough, crashed out with all his blankets wrapped around and around him. I recalled how my other younger brother used to love being wrapped “burrito-style” when I would tuck him in, and it made me smile to see Joshua sleeping the same way. Walking back to the kitchen to refill my coffee cup, I thought about Joshua’s bedtime ritual when he first moved in with me, how I would wave his blanket over him and he would swat it away, laughing more hysterically with each attempt I made to get the blanket to touch down. It was so playful and childlike, and while it may not have seemed “age-appropriate,” he didn’t experience that sort of thing when it would have been. Last night I told a friend about a couple of things Joshua has said and done lately that show just how much he’s grown, just how significantly he has developed on multiple levels over the last three years. I realized that I rely on Joshua for things that, three years ago, I didn’t dare believe he’d be able to do unassisted. I realized that we’ve moved from a debilitating stutter and monosyllabic responses to coaching on “May I” versus “Can I.” I realized that I really love the individual that he is, not just because he’s my brother or because he lives with me, but for the funny, quirky, helpful, random awesomeness that is Joshua. And I realized, most likely prompted by my friend’s saying so last night, that I can take some credit for that.
It’s hard, accepting praise for his accomplishments. It’s hard to believe that I have done more than give him the resources to do what he was capable of on his own. But then I remember a giggling twelve-year-old, gleefully batting blankets from the air above his bed. And then I think of the young man who put a scrap of wrapping paper from a gift from Mamau in his “Nostalgia” box. They say kids grow up so fast, but it’s exceptionally true in his case. And we did that, together.