I walked downstairs a few weeks ago while the kids were on Thanksgiving break and saw my sons with their heads together snuggled under a blanket watching something on their iPad.
It was one of those times when you stop and forget everything else going on in your life because you want to absorb the authentic moments of your kids bonding when they aren’t aware you are watching.
My boys are three years apart. One is into lifting weights and drinking protein shakes and does wild tricks on his bike. The other is into science, obsessed with magnets, and has no interest in anything athletic whatsoever.
I see it when they are lying together on the sofa like they were that morning. But I also see it when my oldest helps his younger brother open a jar of pickles, or fix the chain on his bike without being asked, or gives a him a pair of his socks to wear since he can’t find any because his room looks like the Tasmanian Devil just ripped through the place.
And when my youngest helps his older brother figure out his science homework, or shows him his ant collection, or tells him his breath stinks so if he wants to sit next to him on the sofa he has to brush his teeth.
The bond brothers share is raw and honest. It’s not always getting along and patting each other on the back. And it certainly isn’t about never fighting. It means they piss each other off and are able to shake it off 10 minutes later, crack open some egg nog, eat a dozen cookies, then have a farting contest.
It means they may have insulting nicknames for each other, but it’s okay because they know they are safe.
It means they can be mad at one another, but still put their sibling’s needs before their own, then slam their door and want some alone time just to prove a point.
It means feeling more comfortable when the other one is in the room if they are in a place full of strangers.
It’s understanding each other’s moods — sensing when they are welcome to horse around and when they need to back off.
I grew up with three sisters and we definitely had a tight bond– we still do and it’s everything. But I never knew what it was like to have a brother. And when I had a boy, then another, I didn’t really know what I was in for or how tight two brothers could be.
Their bond has been solidified by wrestling and playing dolls and riding bikes and breaking stuff and climbing into bed with each other after they’ve had a bad dream.
A friendship has blossomed by playing trucks and having water balloon fights, then fighting and not talking, then realizing life is so much more fun with your brother.
The other day I was trying to talk to my youngest about shaving (he’s getting a mustache and it’s making him uncomfortable). As I was offering to take him out and buy a razor so I could teach him to shave, he put his head down and said, “Stop, Mom.”
I told him I was only trying to help and I’d love to show him if he needed me too. Then my oldest, who overhead our conversation, put his arm around his brother and said,”I’ll show you how, Bubby,” then rubbed/smacked the top of his head and walked away.
I saw my son’s shoulders relax and, although he didn’t say anything to his older brother, he glanced at him with a look that said, “Thank God because there is no way I want Mom to show me how to shave my upper lip.” And the two of them went upstairs.
There is something about the way brothers communicate; they have their own secret language, they know what the other needs most of the time without words being exchanged, and they have no problem calling the other out on their bullshit.
They know even if they don’t see eye to eye, there’s no way you can break a bond like that. And I savor the fact I’m able to witness it.