I can remember the day, years ago, sitting at our dining room table writing our Christmas newsletter when “I’m gonna KILL you!” screams ripped through my peaceful writing time. The next thing I knew the door to the garage burst open with my five year old running for his life from his (very wet) seven year old brother. Dillon ran past me, with Charlie in fast pursuit. Through the kitchen and living room they went with a brief chase around the couch. Dillon then made his bolt down the hall and into our bathroom, locking the door behind him and falling against it in fits of laughter. Charlie hit the door too – pounding on it with both fists, screaming at him the whole time.
I crumpled up my Normal Rockwell lie of a newsletter and started over. “My sons are trying to kill each other today, and I have no idea why. Charlie is soaking wet, it’s cold outside and I can only assume Dillon decided to spray him with the garden hose. Who knew it still worked in the winter. I thought we’d put it away. Dillon found it again and plugged it back in. I’m not surprised. Dillon is locked in the bathroom laughing, and Charlie is pounding on the door trying to kill him. Should I intervene? Or let nature take it’s course. Ah yes, the true issues of parenting I can’t find in my parenting books:Do I make them love each other? Or let them fight it out and see who survives?”
Charlie finally gave up and went into his bedroom to change clothes. I knew the battle wasn’t over. Charlie would at some point get even. I just didn’t know when or how.
There was a time when these expressions of brotherly “love” would have me baffled to the point of tears. My husband had come home to find me sitting on the middle of the living room floor in tears because I thought I was a failure as a Mom. “They hate each other!” I cried. “What did I do wrong? I’m a failure as a parent.”
Jeff walked back to find them playing cars in their bedroom and asked what happened. Charlie piped up. “Uhm.. Mom broke Dad. We don’t know what happened, we weren’t doing anything.” Yeah right.
They were fighting – over I don’t remember what, and I had finally had enough and fell to the floor on my knees calling out to God. “I’m so sorry! I failed! My boys hate each other and it’s all my fault.” I basically had a nuclear meltdown.
That would be when Jeff sat me down and shared with me all of the ways he and his brother showed “love” for each other. Basically, they beat the snot out of each other until one got big enough to hit back hard enough that it hurt. After that, they became friends. OH.
My boys still mess with each other, but not as bad as they did. When they were younger, Dillon would throw himself to the floor crying hysterically saying that Charlie hit him and Charlie would get in trouble. It did not take long for Charlie to learn if he was going to get in trouble anyway, he might as well hit his brother. It did not take long for Dillon to stop throwing himself on the floor. Now they just play mind games.
Take Sunday night for example. Once a month we go to a leadership Bible Study. Jeff and I lead it, and the boys babysit. This month Dillon had the night off. He knew we were going, but was asleep when we left. When he woke up the house was dark and he was alone. He’d forgotten where we were, so he called Jeff.
Relieved to find out he wasn’t missing anything, he hung up. Charlie piped up then, “You should have have told him the rapture is real after all and he missed it. That would have been funny.”
Brothers. They WILL love each other some day, right?