You Should Always Be Together

As they gathered around their aged and ailing mother, the sisters received a final piece of advice; you should always be together. The matriarch, my grandmother, my nanny, gave this directive to my mother and her sisters very shortly before her passing. This missive made a big impact on my mother and ultimately on us, her children. When it comes to her children, my mother is Perry Mason – never lost a case – always defends her clients. If I ever voice a complaint about my brothers, my mother will always end her impassioned defense with the following, “he means well.”  I shake my head and huff as I have not received my desired, “I understand.” My only comfort is that should one of them complain about me (yes, it is possible I have done wrong – hard as that may be to believe) they will receive the same response.

I always knew why my mother defended my siblings, but now as a parent, I understand. She wants us to get along, she wants us to be there for each other, she wants us to be friends.  When I see my two boys getting along and playing nicely with each other, I am thrilled and feel a sense of contentment – everything is right. No, it’s not just because I won’t have to hear whining or crying though that is an awesome benefit. I want them to be friends. I want them to build those bonds when they are young and for those bonds to grow as they get older.  Don’t we all want our children to be best friends with each other?

BR, my 8 year-old, is very much a big brother. He is dominant and can be moody – sometimes angry though more often generous and curious. SY, my 5 year-old who can be a bit whiny, is for the most part compliant and pleasant. SY will follow his brother pretty much anywhere, “I’ll do anything you want to do BR.”  He sits next to his big brother while BR plays computer games and cheers for him. If my wife or I call to BR for something which disturbs his all important video game, it is SY that tends to get angrier than BR (could just be that BR is much more adept at tuning his parents out) and tells us that BR is in the middle of a game. By the way, SY never even bothers playing the game.  The other day I asked BR do you ever let your little brother play. He said, “no, he never asks to play.”

“Do you ever ask him?”

He turned to him, “SY, do you want to play?”

“No, I just want to watch you.”

“See,” BR calls to me, “he doesn’t want to play.”

Sure there are those moments when it is best for all parties to have BR and SY in separate rooms, each with their own toys and television. However, in general, the boys get along. Yet, when other children get in the mix, the brotherly love often seems to fade into the background.  All of a sudden, they don’t have time for each other or don’t even want the other around. It is those times when the boys are part of a larger group that I as a parent want them to be there for each other even more. My wife and I have given both boys, particularly BR who is more capable of understanding, the lesson about having each other’s back. “Look out for each other,” we counsel.

I hope that the friendship that they already have for one another will continue to grow as they do. I hope that my wife and I have produced best friends or at least brothers who remember there is nothing like family. I wish that they will do just as nanny said – you should always be together.