05 April 2012


It dawned on us during the wife’s pregnancy, one night when we were engaged in the lengthy, complex (and honestly, sort of exhausting) routine that precedes the Doozer going to bed at night, that we were about to completely ruin his life. And what horrible people we must be.

There was just no way that we could keep up this level of attention and devotion to him. And inevitably, he was going to hate us. Or his brother. What had we been thinking? We were about to create a giant tsunami of confusion, frustration, resentment, fury, and possibly homicidal intentions. Seriously, what had we been thinking?

We tried explaining to him what it might be like once his brother came along. We tried to explain that the whole bedtime routine might need to be altered or shortened or something. He looked at us skeptically. And said, “Just put the baby down on my bed.” We’ll see, we told him. He had it all worked out. And was not prepared to be questioned.

And the actual experience has borne out our concerns, in some ways, not in others. The disruption of our collective universe has been extensive, though perhaps not as damaging as we were concerned it would be. It was hard to gauge initially, since the first week that Little Brother was home, the Doozer came down with the flu. He was cranky and irritable and not himself, so this strange little screaming creature in his house was not so warmly received.

It started with entreaties to the baby to “Stop that” every time he started crying. Especially (and god forbid) if it was during a viewing of Dora the Explorer. We attempted to explain to him that this approach wouldn’t work—if it did, we’d be telling the baby that all the time.

Then there was the simple . . . inconvenience of having Little Brother in the house. “Can you move the baby so I can sit on the couch?” he’d ask, as if the baby were just an oddly-shaped pillow that could just be redistributed around the room to increase his level of comfort.

He would want to pick the baby up on occasion and hold him, though he would almost immediately lose interest and try to squirm out of the predicament. He still hasn’t gotten the concept of holding Little Brother’s head up, rather, he sticks his arms straight out in front of him, like he’s doing an impression of a forklift. Not the ideal baby-holding position. He’s also still trying to wrap his arms around the baby’s torso and lift him like he’s a sack of potatoes. Which, I guess, he kind of is, but still, again, not the ideal baby-holding maneuver.

There’s also the size ratio that escapes the Doozer. He attempts to show his affection by laying on top of his brother and crushing him with a bear hug. And the bear hug is sincere, I’m sure, but none of us want to see Little Brother actually crushed.

It reminds me of a story another father once told me (he had three sons) about one son holding the youngest boy, his face locked in a perma-grin, insisting that he really “loved” the baby, while slowly squeezing tighter and tighter, in a version of a hug, that bordered on disturbing and dangerous. We haven’t had that experience yet. But it’s early days.

And then there’s a moment that surprises you, where the Doozer reveals his true feelings and takes you aback. He and I were on our way out of the house for a weekend event at his preschool (basically a dad’s day, though it was framed as an event for the “adult” in your child’s life who doesn’t typically take the child to school; i.e., the dads) and he said to the wife, “Mama? Will you please take very good care of the baby while we’re at Special Person’s Day?” Completely straightfaced and sincere. As if she hadn’t thought of such a thing.

She promised she would. And then we realized, that as time goes on, so will he.

Now all I have to do is watch, wait, and take notes for the next 10 to 15 years and I will be able to write the ultimate bromance movie, to perhaps rival anything in the Apatow canon.

Yes, I plan to exploit my children’s precious bond for profit. Why not?

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