Parenting Photography

52 Weeks of Brotherhood, Week 31

The Train Week.

52 Weeks of Brotherhood, Week 31

52 Weeks of Brotherhood, Week 31

I showed LittleBrother an Instagram photo of some Thomas trains.

“Oh! I do love trains.” He paused. I read his thoughts. “Do you think I could bring some trains out here on the porch for our evening outside time?” I nodded, sipping my evening iced coffee through a straw.

The in-and-out process with three to five trains at a time soon picked up speed as BigBrother joined in. “Did you get Henry’s wagon?” “Yeah! But I can’t find the other Emily.” Because we have two Emilys; why wouldn’t we? And two Percys and two Thomases and two of several other trains. Little feet ran in and out of the house, the screen door slamming the way a screen door is supposed to slam on a summer evening that isn’t too hot, that isn’t too cold, that comes in as “just right” for evening hours spent outside. Slam, thump thump thump, the clang of cast iron trains being dropped onto concrete, thump slap flap, slam, and repeat.

Eventually, all of the trains found their way onto the front porch, found their way to life again.

It’s been awhile for the trains. I envision them conversing with British accents inside their drawer in the toy organizational tower in the playroom.

“Chip, chip, Cheerio, good chap! Do you know why Master Booey hasn’t played with us lately?”
“Bloody hell if I know!”
“Must be his blasted trousers!”
“Well bust my bumpers.”

And on and on they go, in a sad, train-focused, British-y Toy Story storyline of once beloved toys, forgotten and forlorn. Both boys loved Thomas more than any toys ever. Always covered with tracks and wayward trains and Bertie the Bus, walking across the floor of our old house became difficult at times, painful at others. By the time we moved into the new house last year, the boys had discovered other things, moved on to Bigger Kid Things. I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of the trains, vowing to keep them forever so that my hypothetical grandchildren might play with them someday.

But the two of those boys that still live under this roof and are far too young to consider giving me grandchildren in the way, way distant future got those trains out this week and played with them as they’ve never been played with at any other time. Eventually they came up with the idea that the trains needed to go through a “bubble storm.” Out came one of the bubble guns and they took turns creating a storm of bubbles for the trains to speed through, crash through, and chug with all their might through to the other side, to safety.

Note that I said took turns.

When Thomas was popular in this household last time, the taking of turns wasn’t always the case. Hence the two Thomases and so on; it’s hard to share when you’re not quite three and not quite one, or not quite four and not quite two. It’s hard to share, period. They’ve gotten better at it over the years as we have worked on the Hard Lessons of Growing Up which include Not Being a Total Jerk and Sharing Things with People.

I have hope after watching them join their imaginations together to revive a love of trains on the porch that perhaps one day they will learn the lesson of He’s the Only Brother You’re Ever Going to Have. They sure did a good job of it the other day.



Of Brothers and Dragons

I am eight years older than my only brother. To say we have very little in common is putting it lightly. My husband’s sister is also eight years older than he is, though she’s less of a boogerbrain than my brother. These big age gaps played a large part, along with my health, into why we spaced — or didn’t — our boys so close together. They are two years and one week apart.

We imagined them being the best of friends. We envisioned them playing for hours upon end, making up stories and fighting imaginary dragons and living in a land of their own creation. We figured they’d tell each other everything, be as close as close could be.

We maybe forgot that when you’re thisclose to someone all the time, day in and day out, you’re going to fight.

I fought with my brother because he wanted to be with me, be near me, be doing something with me. All the time. I was a tween when that started and, well, I didn’t want that. I wanted my own space, my own time, my own everything. I didn’t want a tag-along. I didn’t want to be bothered with baby things. And so I was probably mean. (I was mean.) I yelled. I slammed doors. I was every inch a preteen and teenage girl with an annoying little brother.

While our boys are much closer in age and the same gender, they argue. Yes, they play together. But oh, they bicker. They fight. They pester. They whine at one another. The tattle on each other. They push. They poke. They intentionally bother. They copy. They irritate. They annoy. They yell. They make each other cry.

They make me cry.

This is obviously not quite what I had hoped for. And while it’s not all the time and while they get along better than some sibling pairs, I still wanted more for them. I had such high hopes. I wanted, so desperately, for them to have the bond that I didn’t growing up. For them to know that they have someone to rely on, to lean on, to talk to when they don’t want to, gulpsob, talk to me. More than any dreams I might have about their future careers or the way that they’ll vote or who they might marry, I wanted them to understand the love and bond of brotherhood.

I’m learning, however slowly, that they are forming that bond. That yes, one of them will be annoyed when the other wants to play Star Wars for the umpteenth billion time. That yes, one will be annoyed when the other uses his movie choice to pick Blue’s Clues. That yes, there will be arguments and disagreements and misunderstandings and harsh words and tackling and yelling and noise and outright rivalry.

But there will also be this.

Brothers. Forever. #sunflare #autumnlight

Walking in front of me during our evening walk with the dog, they were jabbering non-stop about some Backugan game that BigBrother’s friend was playing on the bus. On and on and on they talked; LittleBrother happy to talk about something — anything — other than Star Wars, I’m sure. I tuned them out mostly, trying to coax the dog into not eating dirt off the mole hills. I vaguely understood that they had taken on various characters, though I know nothing of anything remotely attributed to this new interest — other than we apparently have a few toys from some gift giving occasion. I followed along behind them, when it happened.

They were lost in their imaginary world. BigBrother was some big warrior and LittleBrother was his loyal dragon.

“You’ll always be my little dragon.”

They walked that way for a few steps, long enough for me to fumble my iPhone out of my bra and snap a picture while the dog tried to chase one leaf out of a million, yanking the leash in the exact opposite direction of where I was trying to balance a camera phone with one hand. An unplanned sunflare popped into the final shutter snap, a moment caught that gave me back the hope that maybe, just maybe, someday they’ll be friends.

Real friends. Brothers. Forever.