My two sons are now 7 and 5. Despite frequently giving me ulcers with their antics, they are generally very well-behaved and good-natured boys.
Granted, the elder one’s moodiness can put a girl to shame, while the younger one’s mischievousness is impossible to tame. But those traits, among many others, are exactly what makes them so much fun to watch and interact with.
That is, of course, until they start interacting with each other!
Nothing pleases L more in this life than to see his little brother in misery. He revels in pushing C’s buttons, and knows precisely when and how to do so in order to cause maximum angst.
For instance, travelling in the back seat of the car, the two of them are usually engaged in some silly game such as ‘I Spy’. And whenever he is bored with it, instead of just quitting gracefully, L would decide to rile his younger brother by asking: “Is it a tree? Are you spying with your little eye a tree?”
“No, it’s not.“, C would reply.
“It’s snot? Did you say it’s snot?“, L would slowly begin his torture.
“No! I said it’s not a tree! It’s not!”
“What? It’s snot? You have snot? Aha, C has snot, everyone!”
At which point, all hell would break loose in the back seat, and I would desperately try to turn the radio louder from the front seat.
C is certainly no angel himself. The little rascal simply derives no greater joy than from interfering with whatever his big brother is doing.
If L is building Legos, C would edge towards him and intentionally fool around with the instruction booklet. If L is watching TV, C would deliberately turn his stereo system on to full blast, drowning out all TV sound. And if L is on the laptop, C would brusquely stick his head in front of the monitor screen, obstructing all vision.
All these manoeuvres almost always result in a colourful screaming match between the brothers, followed by each stomping off to his own bedroom, sulking, huffing and puffing until their next inevitable confrontation.
Relations between the two can get so tense sometimes that my wife would force them into a room, close the door and demand that they get along in there for an hour without any ‘incident’.
“You guys can play games with each other, practice Tae Kwon Do on each other, even just glare at each other. I don’t care! But I want you two to stay in this room and show me you can hang out with each other without fighting!“, my wife would command with her pitiful ‘angry’ voice, before rushing off for a giant bowl of ice cream and some peace & quiet on the iPad. I would by this time, of course, already be out the door with a pair of joggers on.
The endearing thing is, behind that volatile facade, lies a special bond between my two sons. Its manifestation can be so subtle and fleeting that, blink, and you will miss it.
But it shows up clearly in the way they stick up for each other when the chips are down.
It is evident in the way they calm each other down when my temper flares up.
And it is blatantly obvious in the emotion that each shows when the other is in genuine distress, whether from injury, sickness or playground politics.
Whenever I see that special bond between L and C, I often wish I had a brother myself. While I am blessed with a wonderful younger sister, we are 12 years apart. And due to family circumstances, I have mostly assumed the role of a de facto father to her over the years, rather than as a playful brother.
I hope that unique connection between my two sons, the two brothers, develops and strengthens as the years go by. Because, as they grow older, that special bond will be just as important as the one that they will always have with their parents.
Keep on pounding.