I’m learning a lot watching the relationship between my boys. Except for a few years, it was just my one brother at home growing up. I know all about the sister relationship, but am figuring out this whole brothers thing.
My boys are at an interesting stage – Big Man is sixteen, a sophomore in high school. Little Man is twelve (he’ll be thirteen in March), a seventh grader, and definitely a lot immature socially and emotionally (thank you autism). Sometimes, they are the best of friends. More frequently, Big Man has better things to do with his time than hang out with his twelve-year-old sibling. It’s in those times Little Man really struggles and often breaks down. He just wants to play with his older brother.
Last night, I watched them lay on the family room floor, watching videos together and laughing like fools for nearly two hours. Little Man was SO happy; the joy evident on his face. He was in the golden circle of his big brother’s attention. Big Man engaged with Little Man on his level. He took interest in what Little Man had to show him. It just made me smile.
There are times these two go at each other. I used to try to stop them, but Spouse insists it’s normal for them to be competitive with each other, to argue with each other to yelling levels, to wrestle and push each other. They are practicing social and relationship skills they will use later in life, within the safety net of family and home. It makes sense when you think about it. And I should have been used to the idea, given I did the same with my sister when we were younger. It just looks a LOT different with girls. I watch Little Man look up to and hero worship his big brother. Sometimes, Big Man revels in that adoration, sometimes it is just an irritant to him.
I love the moments they are hanging out together, but I also try to honor Big Man’s need to be the older brother, have his space, and allow him to say no when he really doesn’t want to be bothered. When they’re adults, I hope they remember how they came to be best friends.