© 2007, Stephenie Freeman
(Since I am now writing a monthly, instead of weekly, column, I thought I’d treat you sweet readers to some oldies-but-goodies that never made it to the blog. Enoy!)
Something I have been praying for has finally happened. My children actually like each other.
For a while there, the only real interaction that my children were having with each other involved sharing or should I say, not sharing. So recently I asked my husband, who just happens to have a brother himself, how long it would be before our boys started to get along.
“A long, long time,” he informed me. “Maybe never.”
Needless to say, I didn’t easily accept his answer. “No, seriously. Like when?”
Dead serious, so as not to be mistaken, he informed me that he guessed that would probably be sometime after they both graduated from college; after they learned to appreciate each other. Clueless, I was shocked in an only child sort of way.
Sibling relationships are something that I have no expertise in and little understanding of. If any one thing makes me nervous about raising my boys, it’s fostering a healthy relationship between the two of them. So after my husband’s comment, I wondered whether or not there would ever be a bond between these two brothers.
Sitting in church one Sunday I listened intently to a sermon about Adam and Eve being the first parents. Naturally, I began to wonder. Where did Eve go wrong with her boys?
Poor Eve. I can hear her now. “I turned my back on them for a second and the next thing I know they were trying to kill each other!”
You have to give her credit for trying to raise the first two children on the planet. She didn’t have the modern mother conveniences that we have today. She didn’t have other mommies at the playground telling her what these little creatures are truly capable of. She didn’t know that when it comes to boys, playing can turn into wrestling, which can turn into fighting, which usually turns into a trip to minor emergency.
“Cain, please quit playing so rough with your brother. Someone’s going to get hurt.”
Just think how different his life would have been if only he had listened to his mother.
Like Eve, I have also found that my boys only know one way to play—loud and rough. They love to chase each other around the living room when they’re supposed to be eating dinner. They think it is fun to jump on the couch, laughing as they bump into each other, knocking each other down. Yeah, it’s all fun and games until someone falls off the couch and breaks something, like my coffee table.
Inevitably when my boys play together, someone gets hurt. It never takes long before one or both of them start to cry. Between brothers, playing can quickly turn ugly within a matter of seconds. The other day I watched as our youngest moved in slow motion to bite his brother who had just taken away his favorite toy. Mayhem ensued and tears flowed. The boys cried too.
During these times, these times of all out boy fun, I can’t help but feel very much like a girl. I’m the outsider, standing on the other side of the fence yelling things at them like, “Stop using my throw pillows as weapons!” and “Hot Wheels aren’t supposed to fly—especially at each other!”
And my personal favorite during raucous games of hide-n-seek, “My bottom might be big, but that doesn’t mean you can hide behind it.”
I serve as their “base”, their safe zone, their mediator when things go terribly wrong. I yell things like, “Play nice!” and “Use your inside voice!” to no avail. As the mama, it my job to be the umpire, the referee, the line judge who call outs the illegal moves and takes them to the penalty box when necessary. And as two brothers, it’s their job to make my job more difficult.
I guess I’m not as worried about my boys getting along as I used to be. Even Eve didn’t get it right the first time, so I figure I’m in pretty good company. And if we get through the next eighteen years without one them killing the other, we’ll be ahead of the game.
Until then, I’ll keep preaching brotherly love and keep the emergency room on speed dial.