My two little boys are best friends already.
My big boy is full of affection and love and has been sensitive natured from the start. He amazes me every day and it is this thoughtful nature that makes him an incredible big brother.
On the other hand, my bubbly 1 year old thinks his brother is the coolest thing on the face of this planet. Every sound, hand movement, and completely silly thing that V decides to do, his less coordinated little brother must reproduce in his own cute, little way. It is quite the sight to see and as a parent, it provides for hours of entertainment.
There is nothing more that I want than for my boys to remain like this, forever: Silly, happy and together.
Most women are social beings. We find solace in talking to our sisters, mothers and girlfriends. We express our feelings. It is this need for connection that keeps us at the center of our families. However, this isn’t always true for men as I’ve witnessed in my own life.
Many men start off as hug producing and kiss dispensing little boys that overtime seem to forget their way in expressing themselves to loved ones. Often times, it’s the other men in their lives with whom they aren’t able to freely share their thoughts and feelings. When they go from saying “I love you” to everyone and the neighbor’s dog to suddenly finding no words of affection for their dads and brothers has stumped me. Is it shame in being too “emotional”? Is it over-competitiveness that gets in the way of their relationships? Is it allowing the women in their lives to dictate their relationships with others?
It is gut-wrenching to think that this could happen to my two little boys.
As days turn into years and my sweet boys grow into men, it is my hope and deepest wish for them to stay connected with each other. I hope that they can find a little bit of “home” in each other once high school turbulence has passed, college diplomas have been distributed, wedding celebrations, kids and grandkids have blessed their lives.
Here is what I want my two boys to remember forever and always:
1. Cheer on your brother. Be competitive, but don’t let the competition get in the way of your friendship. One day, your brother might have the bigger house, the smarter kids, the larger paychecks. Be happy for him. There will be other things that you have that your brother may not. You both are on different journeys. If he’s doing something right, learn from him. If you’re doing something well, share your knowledge with your brother. “Help your brother’s boat across and your own will reach the shore”. – Hindu Proverb
2. Spend time together. Take an annual trip together. Go play basketball. Have a weekly or monthly “guys’ night”. Carve out time from your busy schedules to stay connected with one another. The demanding jobs, the spouses, the kids, the responsibilities- it’s a lot. Having that time with each other will be reenergizing and you’ll get to be goofballs like you were as kids.
3. Pick up the phone. You may not live close enough that you get to spend time together all that often. But guess what? Way before your time and even mine, there was the development of the telephone. Use it. It’ll be too convenient to email, text and only God knows what other forms of communication will be available by the time you are grown. But please, pick up the phone. Listen to your brother’s voice. Catch up. Ask him how he is really doing. Be there for each other. Texts and emails are fine, but please, find time to talk.
4. Hug each other. This sounds silly, but just do it. Give each other a big hearty hug without any inhibitions. No, not the hand-in-the-way chest bump. No, not a pat on the back. An actual hug like you would hug me. If the words don’t come out, this will at the very least remind your brother that you love him. But please, try to make the words come out too. It’s not very hard to say, “I love you”.
5. Bring your families together. One day, you both may have families of your own. Get your spouses and kids together. Your spouses may not love each other and your kids all might fight. But it is your responsibility to keep your families together. Find a way to make it work. If it’s important enough to you, then your spouses and kids will try their best. And remember, you both have a relationship outside of your families. Nurture it. Revert to #2.
6. Forgive. There is no doubt that you will have your differences. Even at age 4 and 1, you both are so unique in your own ways. You will fight. You will at times hate each other. Please, just forgive each other. Stuff happens. But your brother is a part of your childhood. He will have seen you at your best and will have been there by you through your worst. Nothing is bad enough to let go of a huge piece of your life. Talk it through, meet each other half-way and forgive. Don’t give up on your brother.
7. Be silly. Who says you have to be all serious and uptight as adults? You see me doing the Urkel dance in the kitchen and me cuddle with your Aunt don’t you? It’s okay to be silly. And the best person to be silly with is your brother. Just laugh. Be weird together. There is one person who won’t judge, and that will be your equally, crazy brother (you’re welcome for those genes). Have fun and don’t let life get too serious. And when one of you forgets, bust out into an outrageous dance move and remind him to loosen up. We all need someone to keep us in check.