Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Longevity of Brotherly Love

As parents, we all have certain morals, ethics, values, tastes, abilities (I could go on ad infinitum) we want to instill in our children.  Don't get me wrong--I'm most certainly not trying to steer my boys toward a certain career path a la the now-infamous Tiger Mom.  There's a big difference between pushing them into a certain few 'acceptable' hobbies/careers and instilling in them the value of finding and pursuing something that you love to do.  And while I find it vital that some values become ingrained in them, I am very much looking forward to seeing the unique individual that each one grows into on their own accord. 

The value I most desperately hope sticks with them as they grow into men is a feeling of thankfulness that they have each other, a closeness that won't fade as they leave our little nest for the larger world around them.  We started with Jackson when I was pregnant with Alex, telling him how lucky he was to be a big brother, and then we spent a few years telling both of them that it was so special to have a brother.  Now that Alex has the typically dreaded middle child position, I whisper to him that he gets to be both a big brother and a little brother, which is so cool (and at least as of now, he agrees...).  And Kenyon--man, he clearly has the best place in the family, the doted-upon little guy with the confidence (and body) of a burly hippo.
I don't know if it's because they all share a room, or because of me regularly singing the praises of siblinghood--but so far?  It's working.  Jackson leaves Alex secret notes in his backpack at school and during rest period at home.  Alex runs to give Jackson a welcome-home hug after his school camping trips.  Last week, Jackson woke up in the middle of the night to help Kenyon go to the bathroom (while his clearly lazy parents slept!).

Don't get me wrong--we also have plenty of aaaarrrghwhycan'tyouguysleaveeachotheralonealready!! and ifyoutouchhimonemoretimeyouwillbespendingalotoftimealoneinyourroom!!  When your life is a 24-hour a day play date, you can't be expected to be in a state of perma-love; ask any marriage counselor.:)

But yesterday was a gleaming light in my quest for my boys' eternal brotherhood, something that makes me think this love for each other really will stick for good.  This is also an example of why I love my children's school more than life itself, but that is a topic for another post. 

Short backstory--Alex's kindergarten crew has been practicing friendly letter writing, so they each wrote a letter to someone in the 2nd/3rd grade crew about their recent snowshoe outing, to give the older crew some tips for their upcoming trip.  Because Jackson is in the 2/3 crew, Alex was paired up with him.

Jackson got in the car after school yesterday, half breathless and with a big smile on his face. This was what he had to say: "Mom, out of the blue today, Alex's crew came in our class and Alex just walked right up to me with this envelope in his hand."

Alex's rendition of mountains, trees, and snowflakes
He went on: "Alex did such a good job with the bubble lettering for my name!  The picture on the back was great!  He wrote all kinds of information for me about snowshoeing.  Mom, I even cried a little it was so sweet."

What, a 7-year old boy getting a little weepy because of a letter of snowshoeing tips his 6-year old brother wrote for him?  That's just about the best thing a mother trying to instill this value in her sons can hear.  Jackson clearly inherited my family's crying gene, passed down lovingly from my maternal grandfather who is no longer with us.

Dear Jackson,
Remember to wear warm layers. Bring sleds. Make sure the snowshoes are buckled

so they do not fall off. You have two straps to put on the snowshoes.
Your friend brother, Alex

Bring your water bottle. Try walking backwards.
What do you think?  Can a parent instill sibling love in her offspring, or is it all just a crapshoot depending on personality, interests, temperament, and age span?  Will my guys backpack across Europe together in their twenties, or simply make the awkward obligatory holiday and birthday phone calls?  Only time will tell how it all plays out, but regardless of what happens, this sweet memory will stick with me for good.


  1. I LOVE your family. You guys are such an inspiration. I am so happy that your children love each other so much. I'm sure some of that is personality, but I truly believe MOST of that is that fact that you emphasize family. That is such a gift you offer them (and that really, you offer the world).

    crying gene...you kill me!

    didyouhaverunwritingthosesuperlongrunonsentences? weretheyasmuchfuntowriteastheyweretoread?


  2. Wonderful blog....wonderful children. Must all be genetics. (Dad and I need some credit!). Ok..so it IS all you and Sam and you have done one phenomenal job! Love you all!

  3. And now I'm tearing up. We must be related. Doesn't it feel great to have kids who adore each other? I feel very lucky. (When I'm not screaming at them to get the hell off each other...)