My days are bombarded with one boy claiming injustice at the hands of the other. They fight over everything. If one brother has a toy in his hand, it’s suddenly the other’s “special” toy that he simply can’t share. They fight over who is sitting by me or Ryan at dinner. They fight over who can walk into a building first. They fight over who has consumed more treats and vegetables. They fight over underwear. They fight over who gets to spit in the sink first when brushing their teeth. They fight over imaginary items. Seriously.
Everyday, the first thing Bronson does when he walks into the living room after school is accuse Oli of both playing with some prized toy he was told not to touch and also breaking said toy. (And honestly, if the toy has been moved or broke, it was probably me, moving it out-of-the-way for something stupid like vacuuming.)
And because they are two boys, these fights escalate to physical faster than the cheetah they learned about on Wild Krats. Then they fight over the fighting. “He hit me!” “Well, he punched me.” “Well he kicked me.”
Like all humans, they immediately offer defenses: “It was an accident.” “Well, he did it first!”
I remember my grandmother, who had eight kids, telling me that she literally handed knives to two of her daughters one day and told them to end their fighting. I now know how she feels. (Sidenote: my aunts didn’t kill each other, and I haven’t let my boys knife fight. Yet.)
Yesterday, we took Oli to walk-in care because his eye hurt all day after an accidental poking by Bronson. But I was definitely the one ticked off about it. What’d Oli do? He asked for extra stickers to bring to Bronson.
While I would say brotherhood is exasperatingly bewildering, I would also say that their bond is unbeatable. I love them together. And I have from day one. After screaming and crying for the 45 minute ride home, Bronson finally decided it was okay for Oli to join our clan. And that was it: a fierce, fighting love that only siblings share.
When Oli was old enough to make eye contact, his eyes were constantly locked on Bronson, with his mouth in a steady grin. Before Oli could walk, we put him in a walker and gave him a hockey stick, so they could play hockey in the living room. Oli literally laughed when he ran over Bronson’s toes.
Bronson was always giving Oli toys, so he could play, too, and until Oli was about a year-and-a-half, he was happy to play second fiddle to whatever Bronson was doing. For awhile I was distressed that Oli would be bossed around forever, but that day came: the day that Oli said no, fought back, decided they were equals. The rest…has given me a headache.
Since then, the fighting has progressed, their negotiating skills have refined. These boisterous boys are at each other in love and war all day. Ryan and I try to tell them to “work it out” together (while trying to make sure they aren’t actually killing each other), but I’d say we have a long way to go in working on that skill.
The backseat of my car is the only site in America in need of a wall. And I’d happily pay for it. Somehow these two dispute over who can lean their head toward the middle or who can stretch their arms wide or who can sing or who can talk. I’d like the wall to be between them, and also me. And sound proof. It should be sound proof.
But God and I both know Bronson and Oli love each other. Before I even had Oli re-buckled after drop off this morning, he said, “It seems like I already miss Bronson.” And last night Bronson got back out of bed because he forgot to say goodnight and tell his brother he loved him.
Their love is undeniable, and their fighting is indignant. Truth be told, they’re brothers.