The dynamic between brothers is an amazing thing to witness. I never really considered my relationship with my brother until I started raising two boys. Brothers can have fights that make MMA matches look like love scenes in b-movies.
I recall kicks to the face, chairs thrown, punches, and full-on tackles between my brother and I when we were growing up. And yet he and I are still on very close terms. We don’t see each other or speak that often, but when we do, we still share confidential information, and confide concerns in each other. I was in college when my brother started army basic training. We traded very frequent letters. I remember one specifically telling me that while they were on the rifle range, he discarded some of the training methods that he was being given, and ‘went back to how dad taught us how to shoot’ – and qualified with high scores every time.
Very recently he told me that his unit is getting ready to deploy overseas. As of right now, I don’t think he’s even told his wife yet. This is the sort of relationship I have with him. I turned to him for advice on surviving the military-like training that I went through in the police academy, and he helped me get through it, even if he’ll never know that. I’ll go weeks or months without seeing him, but it doesn’t seem to matter, even if- while were kids there were times which we may have been legitimately trying to kill each other.
None of this really registered with me until my two sons started getting old enough to interact with each other on human terms. The two of them fight constantly over some of the dumbest things on earth. This morning, it was who got to play with the plastic toy rhinoceros. For ten minutes they argued and screamed at each other. Then, all of a sudden, it was time for The Narrator to go off to school, and Mini-me lost if, bawling his eyes out because he was going to miss his brother while he was at school. Moments before, they were oil and water, now that was all set aside and they clung to each other in one of the most heart-wrenching hugs I’ve ever seen as the bus pulled up.
I do realize that not all brotherly relationships stay this way, and that I am incredibly lucky. My own father doesn’t have much of a relationship with his only brother, and I know of several other people who don’t either. Familial wounds have a tendency to cut deeper. Offenses we might excuse acquaintances or even friends for leave lasting scars when committed by family members for any number of reasons. I am thankful that none of these rifts have happened between my brother and I, and I am ever hopeful that my two boys will end up like their father, and can appreciate what they’ve got in each other. Fight like hell with each other now, fight like hell for each other later.
My wife does not understand this. I got in trouble this morning because as the two of them were bickering, I told the little one “Just go get him!” As Mini-Me attacked The Narrator with a war cry, the tone changed from one of anger to the two of them laughing. I got yelled at for ‘encouraging them to fight.’
I couldn’t explain to her what I was doing. There wasn’t any way to do it. I knew what the outcome would be when I unleashed the little one. But I wasn’t going to argue with her. She knows kids, I know brothers, and in spite of the fact that there should be a logical link between the two, if you’re a brother as I am, you know damn well that sometimes, there simply isn’t.