Brother vs. Brother

Courtesy of Flickr

Courtesy of Flickr

“How long did it take SJ?” BR asked. This seemingly insignificant question came while he was in the chair at the dentist office.  The dental assistant had a drill in his mouth and water by his side should he feel the need to spit.To put it simply, it was not the time for talking.

However, for my boys, the time for rivalry and jealousy seems to be 24/7.

They love each other. They kiss each other without prompting. They play on the computer together. They feel bad if the other one is upset.


However, it seems their more natural state is to argue.

“Hey, he got more juice. It’s my turn to go on the computer.  I want to go in the bath first.”

I don’t know what has caused them to behave like this. I know children argue with each other especially when they are close in age (31 months apart).

My next older brother and I are 27 months apart. And we argued plenty. I can remember many “shut up, no you shut up sort of fights.” But other than wanting to go to go to bed later like him, I don’t remember feeling jealous. Though I suppose I was to some extent which I think is natural.

However, my children are excessive. Their whole personalities can change when each other is around: BR becomes more tense and SJ ruder.

Car rides are hell. There is no room to go to or door to shut. Our last car ride, a 25 minute trip, featured screaming from each family member and my heart rate doubling. BR had headphones yet said he heard SJ’s movie, and it was distracting. SJ insisted he choose the movie, and BR did not like the movie that was on.

Petty crap, wouldn’t you say? Typical.

Neither my wife nor I does the, “well your brother does this, so why don’t you” sort of thing. Well, maybe on the rare occasion.

Each of the children gets attention. Is it equal? Probably not.

However, I don’t believe that everything is meant to be exactly the same for each child.  They have different personalities, needs, and wants.

Again, this is grating on me, and I don’t know what to do about it. Like all parents, I want my children to be friends. I want them to be loyal and have each other’s back.

On those occasions, when they do act nicely towards each other, I am thrilled. There is something beautiful about seeing them together that brings me a great joy. (

Anyone got some advice? We have another dentist appointment coming up.

Still in the Game

bballI’m fourteen years old. Tall and wide for my age, I’ve determined I can play basketball with the big boys or in this case with my older brothers. They let me join their weekly game made up primarily of guys anywhere from 19-21. I am the mascot, the youngest, the kid. However, I play hard and with a chip on my shoulder. I don’t back down from contact or a shot.   Eventually, I gain acceptance and am recognized as a good player.

Basketball has always been my favorite sport to play. It started with little league – Bustleton Bengals Boys Club. I was an all-star a couple of times and one of my teams lost in the championship game. Great times, fun times, young times.  Then came the games with my older brothers that were full of camaraderie and competitiveness though they often included a yelling match between my brothers or another player out of frustration.

As the years have added up, I’ve continued to play basketball sporadically including pick-up and leagues. A scrappy player is the way to describe me – never the tallest, strongest, or most athletic; I was full of wanting to win.

When I moved out to New Jersey, some people from my congregation invited me to play basketball with them. There were a range of people aged from teens to upper forties. I held my own and in fact, was often one of the better players.

Fast forward to this year – 2013. After not playing for about a year and a half, a few guys once again showed interest in starting up a regular Sunday game.  Was I interested? Hell yes!! I could not wait to play again. However, I was nervous. I had not played basketball competitively in a year and a half though I had been working out ( Also, the old guys had dropped out. The players left were young enough to be my children (I would have had to be a young father but you get my point).

I wasn’t sure playing was smart. Neither was my wife, children, mother, or friends. However, I was not going to let these obstacles or sanity stop me.

Well, we’ve played two sessions so far. After the first week which was only 2 on 2, when I played on 4 hours of sleep and a funny stomach, I was completely wiped. Not quite Willis Reed limping on the court for the Knicks but impressive for a 40 something marginally athletic English teacher. I played decently. Yesterday, or session number two, was three on three. With more sleep and no stomach ailments, I was looking for and expecting improvement. It did not arrive. My play was mediocre at best, and I got frustrated.

I have come full circle. Once the youngest on the court, I am now the oldest. I watch these early twenty-somethings jump, react, and move in a way that I am not capable of at this point. I am a bit jealous and long for my glory days. Instead, I find way to compensate.

Really, it does not matter. I still love to play, the camaraderie, and competition. Now, if I could just remember how to jump, I might be on to something.

P.S. Enjoy some photos from the game courtesy of my photographer – BR.

Old man in the middle - too tired to smile

Old man in the middle – too tired to smile.


I am dribbling and in no rush.  Slow it down - my new motto.

I am dribbling and in no rush. Slow it down – my new motto.

I was going to get that rebound.

I was going to get that rebound.

Surveying the court - hmm who to pass to?

Surveying the court – hmm who to pass to?

Look carefully - my feet are actually off the ground - might have been able to do one of those old Toyota commercials.

Look carefully – my feet are actually off the ground – might have been able to do one of those old Toyota commercials.