Dear Brother


Dear Brother,

I love you. I also love our sister. But it’s different. I know what I want to tell our sister. I know what I want for her; I know how to keep her safe. I know how to teach her to protect herself from boys, from the hurtful words of girls her own age, the sting of a breakup and anything else she might encounter. She radiates the kind of innocence that makes us both want to slap her but also protect her at all costs. I know how to keep her safe. But how do I keep you safe? How do I teach you to treat your girlfriends with respect, to shower them with love and affection? To never raise a hand to them and to never push them to their knees? When do boys learn that no means no? There are plenty of boys who don’t. How do I tell you without scaring you, that when a girl is too drunk to walk, you can under no circumstances take her to bed with you. That once you are committed, you fight for it, that you don’t give up, that you don’t abandon her for one night of a new girl? The same thing keeps running through my mind: when does it go wrong? When do boys learn or assume that sexual assault is ok, that they shouldn’t have deep emotional feelings, that they shouldn’t shed a tear, that they have to have a hard exterior? How do I protect you? Do I throw myself in front of you when you see someone appropriating that culture, do I keep you away from boys that I know can do no good? How do I teach you not to use women, but to appreciate them, to cherish them and to love them with every fiber of your being? Your sweet face, long blonde hair, your grubby small hands, the smile that we share, your ever-growing height… how do I keep all of that safe? As your sister, I have a responsibility to you to teach you what I know from living in this day and age. Our parents will teach you most of what you know, but the truth is that they grew up in a different age. They can only tell you so much. So that leaves me and your sister. But I am the oldest, a whole nine years older than you, which means that soon I won’t be at home, and I won’t be able to keep a watchful eye on you.
You are a strong-willed, funny, smart boy and I will love you no matter what you do. I will figure out what I need to do for you. I will find out how to protect you. Your future is as bright as your eyes, Dax Henry Winegarden.


Love always,