The boys and I were outside enjoying one of the year’s first warm days. Paolo had the awesome idea of chalking targets on the driveway to bomb with water balloons. We were sketching bad guys from Paper Mario, naturally, when Paolo’s chalk jumped out of his hand mid-stroke and started rolling away. He swiveled on his knee to grab for it, which was a bad idea considering he was wearing shorts. He began to cry and carry on about his scraped knee and the tiny drops of BLOOD, dear Jesus, the BLOOD. Suddenly Gianluca, who had been perfectly content in my arms, started to cry. “Paolo, you have to stop crying. You’re making your baby brother cry,” I told him. In an instant, Paolo stopped crying, and a moment later, the baby stopped.
The two brothers stared at each other with identical solemn expressions.
“See? Gianluca was crying because he knew you were sad. He already loves you.” As ridiculous as that should have sounded to a four-year-old, Paolo nodded in wonder, never taking his eyes off his brother. The strangest feeling washed over me, part excitement and part foreboding. I saw my children’s hearts open up to one another; but with love comes vulnerability. When you love someone else, his or her happiness becomes necessary in part for your own happiness. Sam, Paolo, Gianluca, and me: we are all linked to each other now. Whatever happens to one of us happens to us all. It’s scary and beautiful, this family business.