Children love to tease their siblings, it has always been so, and will always be so.
A fair amount of good-natured teasing is good for us, it helps us to not take ourselves so seriously.
In our family, there is a tradition that always makes me smile, and is thankfully being used more and more frequently as more of them are joining the ranks as teens.
Whenever a child is dropped off at an event, friends house, practice, social gathering, etc, the remaining kids will call out the window, “I love you, Cupcake!” as we drive away.
Sometimes the exiting child will call back, sometimes, they will keep walking. Almost always there is some shift in body posture that shows they have heard it.
The remaining kids in the car bust out laughing, thankful that it is not their turn.
The majority of the time, this “responsibility” does not fall on me, as they play this game with each other. However, when I am left alone in the car, I do feel a certain obligation to carry on the “Cupcake.”
Moving on to the middle school and high school years, this term of endearment has become the go-to hallway harassment and public callout for my kids.
At the last home football game, two of my kids were on the football field, set to perform with the marching band, one in the drumline and one in the color guard. As the band is set, and in the moment before the music starts, there was a call from the stands, “I love you, Cupcake!”
Of the 130+ students on the field, there is no way for anyone to know exactly who “Cupcake” is, but they know.
I see my daughter look around. I watch my son reposition his feet. They heard it. They know.
I look at their brother next to me, grinning from ear to ear. He knows.
The band plays, nothing is changed.
Except they know we are there. They know we are watching. They know we are supporting. The embarrassment is temporary. The knowledge we are there remains.
My daughter repaid the favor to her brother while he was talking to friends, and she called down from the stands, “I love you, Cupcake!” Had he ignored it, the friends would not know who “Cupcake” was.
He knew. He looked for her. He knew she was there.
There is a comfort in knowing they are not alone. Even in the crowds, in the stands, in the hallway, on the field or stage. They are not alone.
These four words, “I love you, Cupcake” may have started as a joke between siblings, but I see them as so much more. I see the bonds that are formed between siblings, between our family, that transcend all of that.
If you ever find yourself at an event with my kids, if you listen closely, you just might hear the “Cupcake” called out. Look to see who squirms, then remember to tell your “Cupcakes” how much you love them.