I adored my big brother, Jeremiah. I followed him everywhere. He was an older, wiser six-year-old to my four-and-a-half-year-old self. He knew all sorts of things, like the best place to find bugs and where the water was just right for playing in. If he went over to his friend’s house I tagged along. He didn’t mind most of the time.
Then one day Phillip, our next-door neighbor, invited Jeremiah over to play. A fence separated our yards, and when we played together we just climbed over it instead of going around. Jeremiah climbed over, and I started to follow.
“Only you can come this time,” Phillip told Jeremiah. “I don’t want your sister to play with us.”
My face went bright red. I looked down and tried to dig a hole in the ground with the toe of my shoe. What would I do while they were playing together? Why didn’t Phillip want me to play too?
“Well, if my sister can’t play then I can’t either,” Jeremiah said. Just like that, he climbed back over the fence. “Nobody is mean to my little sister. Come on, Naomi, let’s go find some frogs by the creek.”
Jeremiah put his arm around my shoulder and smiled at me. I smiled back. We spent the day playing near the creek behind our house. Jeremiah never mentioned not going over to Phillip’s house to play. It was like it never happened. The next day when Phillip invited Jeremiah over, he included me too.