Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Oh brothers!

I am beginning to realize that I have done more than create two little boys. In fact, I have created a third entity known as brothers, and brothers have a personality all their own, the best and the worst of the composite parts.

I know a little bit about brothers. I have one. He's five years younger than me, so we didn't often have a lot in common growing up. I played with his Star Wars toys sometimes, and he played kissing games in the fort in the vacant lot with the neighbourhood kids sometimes. But five years and a gender gap is a lot to overcome. I may have a brother, but I've never been one. (Although I must admit, as adults my brother and I have discovered each other anew. Together we have populated my mother's life with three grandsons in three years. We have more in common, and more respect for each other, now than we ever did growing up!)

When I was in grade 7, I made friends with two boys, brothers, who were one year ahead and one year behind me in school. These boys wrote the definition to the word brothers as I know it. They weren't inseparable, and they generally annoyed the crap out of each other, but they had a bond that was clearly visible, tangible. When I think back to growing up with these brothers, who came to be among my closest friends, I remember not only the shit they disturbed (I have clear memories of them putting the cat in a pillow case and spinning her around over their heads) and capers they pulled off (one day we decided to play hookey and feeling the absence of the brother who attended another school, we liberated him by telling the principal his grandmother had died - without even asking the brother in question if he wanted to play hookey that day.) I remember most clearly the inconsequential time they spent together, throwing a baseball, watching TV, playing games on the Nintendo. It wasn't that you never saw one without the other, and autonomously they were great friends and companions to me. But there was a depth to their friendship that I've never seen, before or since.

That's what I think of when I think of my boys as brothers. That they will always have each other, even as they irritate the holy hell out of each other. And having them so close in age, just a few weeks shy of two years apart, means that they should have lots of common ground over the years.

But really, I thought I'd have a few years to spare before some elements of brotherly behaviour manifested themselves. At three and a half, Tristan gleefully goads 18 month old Simon into doing stupid things. The dumber the stunt, the harder Tristan laughs, and of course Simon is a willing patsy. Recently, Tristan has taken to goading Simon into biting his own shoe when they are buckled into their car seats. This is the pinnacle of humour to Tristan, who howls with delight, and I have to drive with one hand on the steering wheel and the other on Simon's foot to keep him from complying. Tristan made my heart melt the other day by asking over and over if Simon had finished his dinner yet, because he (Tristan) had just finished building a particularly lovely track and wanted Simon to drive the trains with him. On another day, I hollered myself hoarse at Tristan's hysterics over Simon touching his tracks.

And shouldn't we have been much closer to the teen years before I heard the first, "Mummy! He's looking at me!"?