I remember the day when my oldest was invited to a birthday party for one of his friends. My boys are coming to an age where they are beginning to have distinct friends for each of them rather than sharing each others’ friends. It used to be that if one of them had a friend, then that friend must be the other’s friend as well. As the time approached for the party, my wife and I were sensing that an explanation would need to be given as it seemed that there was an anticipation that both boys were going to said party.
I called my youngest over and sat him on my lap to try to explain, in 3 year old language, that he would not be going to the party. Anticipating tears, I knew that I would need some kind of alternative that would somehow supersede his disappointment. A trip to Best Buy and Sweet Frog seemed like it might work, even if there were some residual tears.
As I explained all of this to my younger son, my wife tried to explain it to our oldest. As she told him that his brother was not going to the party because he was not invited, the oldest gave her a quizzical look and asked, “Why not?” There was some deep concern as to why he and his brother would be broken up during this time.
That’s my boy, though. He’s got a huge heart. When we first started our family, we talked about how far apart we wanted to try to have our children. Obviously, there is only so much that can be done in this area. We felt incredibly blessed and fortunate that things worked out the way that they did. My brother is four years older than me and it’s taken a good number of years for us to finally have the connection that my two sons have with each other. Four years can be an awfully big time span when you’re young. As you grow older, it doesn’t seem to matter as much though.
Our hope all along was that the boys would have this kind of special relationship. I see so many differences in the ways that they interact with each other. They’re not afraid to sleep in the same bed together (something that my brother and I could never say). They don’t mind sharing most of their toys with one another. They genuinely care for one another.
I’ve seen some pretty rough sibling relationships before. Thankfully, I’ve not experienced them firsthand. My brother and I have been through a lot in the last few years and all of that has caused us to grow closer together and I’m glad that we have each other. While we don’t always agree, we talk often and feel free to be open and honest with one another. There is a mutual respect and love that we share and for which I am grateful. I have been blessed by my brother as well and today I experienced that in a way that I’m not sure I ever had before. There have been plenty of times when I’ve felt like I was the one being strong, but today, in his words, he “channeled” Mom and Dad. In other words, the legacy of strength and commitment that they passed on to us was exhibited today. I was so thankful for that and was reminded again of the importance of those sibling relationships.
I’ve often heard it said that you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. The most ideal situation is when your family becomes your friends. I’ve always enjoyed this and am thankful that this has been my experience. My mom and dad became more than parents to me, they became friends. They never tried hard to be my friend when I was younger, and that is not a criticism. They understood that parenting came before friendship, not vice versa.
I don’t know if my boys will always have the same relationship that they enjoy now. I certainly hope that they do. My prayer for them is that they will continue to grow closer together as brothers and friends as the years go by, just like my brother and I have. Right now, I am their parent and if I am their friend, that’s a bonus. One day, I hope to be their friend who happens to be their parent as well.