21 June 2012

Brothers Gotta Hug

So, we have kids now. Plural. Two of them. One could say that before this we were just a couple who had a kid. Now, we’re more likely to be referred to as a family. Many people in our life now refer to “the boys.” And sometimes, for a moment, I have to stop and think, The boys? Who are they? Who are they talking about exactly?

Oh, right. Our kids. The boys.

Being a parent (at least in the early stages) reminds me of that saying about not being able to see the forest for the trees. It’s easy to get absorbed by the minutiae and routine of parenting, the dressing, feeding, cleaning, entertaining, consoling, diapering, wiping, cajoling of your children. As a result, you don’t see what’s really going on. And it’s very easy to miss the big picture.

You’re a family now. You created these bizarre little creatures, brought them into this world, and let them loose. Which is kinda, pretty amazing, if you think about it. They are not just vomit, pee, and poop machines that you have to spend all your time managing (although it can seem like this sometimes). They are actual human beings. With personalities. And now there are two of them.

Lately, I’ve begun to notice how our three-month-old stares intently at the Doozer. Studies him. I mean, he is utterly fascinated by the kid. And truth be told, he’s a pretty interesting character and we tend to watch him a lot ourselves. Of course, often he needs to be watched, so he doesn’t crush Little Brother in a well-meaning, but far-too-aggressive hug, or so that he doesn’t try to scale the bookcase in the living room, Everest-style. But it dawned on me recently what I’m really watching.

Bonding. These two kids are now in this relationship with each other that’s going to last their whole lives. Sure, they’ll get mad at each other, they’ll fight, they might not talk sometimes, sometimes possibly for a long time, but they are bonded. They are connected. They cannot escape each other, no matter how much they may want to.

These things are not always obvious. You don’t always know that it’s happening. Again, you’re just in it, right there in it, and life is happening and it’s sort of hurtling by. You can’t slow down time. It just keeps accelerating. Faster and faster.

I won’t go on and on about the miracle of life or anything like that, but yes, the experience of creating and shaping little lives is pretty amazing. Amazing, mostly, because we are simply allowed to do it. But there’s something in them both, something that is us and not really us. We can play them music and show them movies and talk to them and read great books, try to shape them into miniature versions of us. But they are their own people, too. They have their own personalities. 

Sure, it’s a reflection of us and how we parent. But it’s them, too. It can seem foreign sometimes. We don’t know where the Doozer gets the stuff that comes out of his mouth sometimes. We’d like to pat ourselves on the back and say it’s the result of having such incredible, smart, interesting, talented, kind parents. But that can’t be it. I mean, entirely.

Things the Doozer has said lately, unprompted, about Little Brother:

“I really like being in love with him.”

“He is the cutest baby in the whole world.”

“When you get bigger, you can eat coffee cake, too!” 

“I noticed he needed some toys to play with.”

Of course, these sentiments are often accompanied by a generous physical display from the Doozer which could easily cause, without intervention, suffocation of the baby. He has learned to love his brother, but he has not yet grasped the immense weight difference between the two of them.

This is happening. Right now. As we speak. It’s easy to fail to notice. It’s good to think of Ferris Bueller’s advice: If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

And I don’t want to miss a minute of it.

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