When Owl was a newborn baby, Penguin would have this tendency of sneaking up to him as he was laying in his pack and play in the living room and bonk him on the head. Sometimes he would do it repeatedly. It always seemed to bother me more than it did Owl, which leads me to believe that the behavior was a present to vex me and not necessarily an indication of brotherly ill-will. Well, maybe there was some ill-will tossed in, but nothing too damaging or permanent. I used to get so upset the first few weeks of that behavior. So much so that I had a hard time talking about it without wanting to cry. I thought it meant Something ™. Capital letter S something. I thought I was looking into the future of their relationship. In a way, I suppose I was. Siblings do love to bicker, don’t they? But I placed too much meaning on that one action. It was a behavior that fairly quickly subsided when Penguin stopped being mad at me for bringing in a baby and started to like hanging around with me again.

In recent weeks, Owl has been engaging in what I can only define as revenge. By nature of being the bigger, stronger and faster of the two, Penguin gets his way a lot. If he wants a toy and Owl is looking at it, he takes the toy. I always step in and make some motherly statement a la, “Owl is looking at that. When he is finished, he’ll share.” Then I take the toy back, get hit with a very brief, mostly showy maelstrom of rage and give the toy to Owl, who has since moved on to other things. This tells me two things. 1. I might meddle. 2. Remove the word might from the first point. I don’t consider it meddling, really, but I want to impress upon the boys the notion of sharing toys. Penguin is pretty good for the most part. I mean, if he wants something bad enough, he wants it, but he is pretty good about offering Owl a substandard replacement. Your fancy, flashing, musical contraption for a small bit of plastic fence that came with a Duplo set. Fair trade, no?

Anyways, as I was saying, Owl has not been taking the thievery quite so benignly as of late. Au contraire, he has taken serious umbrage to the fact that toys are ripped from his hands at Penguin’s will.  Recently, this has resulted in what I like to call the William Wallace. It goes a little something like this. Penguin engages in bit of the ‘ol toy snatchery. Owl looks down at his empty hands for a wee moment then throws back his head, lets out a war shout and quickly charges, biting Penguin somewhere about the arm, leg, head or shoulder. Lest you think there is any baby favoritism in the house, I quickly intervene, lightly scolding Owl. This is more a show for Penguin so that he sees that I am consistent in my severe dislike of physical harming behaviors. The rules in the house are simple. Mama doesn’t like biting, hitting, kicking or scratching. Backsass makes me cringe. Please share. No tasty treats before eating a good meal. And for the love of all that is holy, if you both scream at the same time, I am going to lock myself into the bathroom and let you sit among your own misery for a minute or two.

It’s been very interesting raising siblings. I am an only child. Growing up, I had cousins that I was very close to that felt like siblings at times, so I am not completely out of touch with the experience. But yeah, for the most part I am. I don’t know what is normal, what can be ignored, when I should intervene and when I can let things go. As a child, I didn’t have to share my things. I didn’t have to share my parents’ time or attention. I can’t totally imagine what that feels like. On the one hand, I think it must be great to have a sibling, particularly if you are the kind that get along very well. To have someone to experience life along side you, and when you are old enough, to crack jokes about the lameness of your parents and MY GOD can’t Mom just let that thing go already? (Answer: Probably not. I obsess). On the other hand, DUDE – you are always up in my business. Go away!

When I look at the boys, overwhelmingly I see the signs of two little gents that enjoy each other. I expected that there would be squabbles about toys. I expected to hear “Mama, move Owl. He is looking at my trains.” It’s ridiculous to hear this as an adult, but seems completely logical for a 4-year-old in that odd, young boy way. I expected anger when one has to wait because the other needs tending to. And all these expectations bear out daily. What I hoped was that there would be moments when the two seemed to love being near each other. When they would make each other laugh. When they would console one another. And these things happen, too. And they are great. They are goofy boys that like to do goofy things to make the other one laugh. Even Owl who, in spite of his young age, seems to have a burgeoning sense of humor I can only describe as a perfect fit for the family. Penguin attempts to comfort Owl when he cries. Just the other day, when we were stuck in the car waiting for Papa Bird to finish an errand, I was unsuccessful in getting Owl to stop crying, but Penguin said “There, there. Don’t cry. Daddy will be out soon,” and then proceeded to make goofy sounds and faces to make him laugh.

There. Right there. It is in those moments that I cherish having two boys together. I cherish them individually all the time. But as brothers? It is moments like that when I am able to see this brotherhood as a gift to both of them. It may not always be the perfect fit. It may seem to lose its shine when in the wrong light. Thinking about it more, the relationship they share is a gift to all of us, really. For them, it is the brotherhood itself and to all that it entails. For me, it is a glimpse into a world I never knew as an only child and as a girl. For my husband, it is a reminder of his own past and the experiences he had growing up with two brothers of his own.

I like this. I like having more than one child. I don’t know that I would want more than two. I think I am just the parent I want to be now and I worry that an additional child would strain the delicate balance we have created here. I am very hands-on in my parenting and I suspect that gets harder and harder to do the more children that you have. It’s not like it’s something we are even considering. It comes up every now and then as a question from others, but not from ourselves. We’re pretty much right where we want to be. It’s nice to be able to say that in life.

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