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Parenting

Friends Ruin Everything

We went to the city park to play earlier this week.

It went poorly.

The boys had been playing for about five minutes when I heard a little girl’s voice scream-screech-coo BigBrother’s name. She ran up to him and he kind of jumped around a little bit. He grabbed her hand and ran her over to me.

Mommy! This is Scream-Screech-Coo girl from my Kindergarten class! I’m going to play with her now!

And off he ran.

While LittleBrother watched them run away. From him.

I stayed seated, wanting to be a fly on the wall as LittleBrother played this one out. He stood still for just a few seconds before chasing after the other two as fast as little legs could take him. He called out his brother’s name in his own little voice, but BigBrother was already running off in another direction with Scream-Screech-Coo girl. Every time LittleBrother caught up to the older two kids, they would be leaving. Leaving him behind.

I sat still and chewed on my lip.

On the one hand, BigBrother should be allowed to play at the park with his friends. I recalled a recent trip to the county fair in which a mutual friend of both boys only wanted to ride with LittleBrother. BigBrother had been upset, and we had talked about how sometimes we have to let the other brother play with someone else.

But it’s hard to be the little brother sometimes.

This scene played out, over and over, for about 15 minutes. I watched LittleBrother get more and more frustrated, but he was determined that those two were going to play with him. I didn’t want to step in and demand that BigBrother play with him. Not true: I wanted to, but I didn’t. Parenting is a social experiment, and I just let it play out.

Eventually LittleBrother came and sat next to me.

BigBrother won’t play with me.

Well, his friend showed up. We didn’t plan it that way, but sometimes these things happen.

The tears welled up in his eyes. “I just wanted to play with BigBrother. He was at school ALL DAY and now he won’t even play with me.

I gave him a hug. It’s hard to be almost four, to have shorter legs, to not be in school yet, to think the sun sets on your brother’s head — and learn that it doesn’t really.

Well Booey, it’s like when your friend only wanted to ride with you at the fair. These things happen. BigBrother still loves you. You’ll play again soon.

He got over it and played in some leaves near me until Scream-Screech-Coo girl left and BigBrother could chase him for awhile. All was well with the world.

Today at the park, another one of BigBrother’s friends showed up. I cringed. But this friend is a youngest child… and worked hard to include LittleBrother. He didn’t always keep up. And once he fell off of a toy trying to do things that the older boys were doing. But he felt included.

Eventually the friend left, and my two boys ran off to play for a bit before we had to go home.

Victorious Brothers

I breathed a sigh of relief, happy that they have each other.

2 replies on “Friends Ruin Everything”

Man, it must have been so hard to sit and watch that scene unfold. I’m impressed at your restraint. I imagine that my boys will have the same issues as they get older. It’s good to know that at the end of the day, the still come back to each other!

I’m a younger sibling. My brother is two years older than me, but got held back a year in school, so we were only a grade apart. We’re both adults now, I’m in my fourth year of college and he’s moved out of the house.

I talked to my mom a little while ago about how angry I used to get because she didn’t “make (brother) include me. And he got to go off and do all sorts of cool stuff!”

“Well,” she said. “So did you. Remember?” And you know what? She was right. I think it’s important to remember that even though they’re young, they’re still separate people and deserve to have separate friends and separate lives.

It’s cool and sweet and amazing that they can come together and play. But I think they have the right to play like individuals. And… I learned to play by myself when I was growing up. My brother had a ton of friends in the neighborhood and I didn’t. And I wasn’t included in every outing and every trip to the store and and and and and.

I learned to entertain myself. And I’m glad I did. And there were also times my brother didn’t get to come with me on outings. We were siblings but not attached at the hip.

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