Brother, Where are you?

Returning from an errand with my mom, I tried to collect my boys from my parents’ house, but as the TV was blaring cartoons, neither boy was interested in moving, much less leaving to have a boring lunch and a boring nap.  I clicked off the TV.

Me: Time to go.  We need to eat lunch.

Evan: But I want to stay with Papi and Grandma.  Papi said I could.

I looked at my dad, who shrugged.

Me: We’ll be back for dinner.  Come on.  Let’s go.

Evan: I would rather stay here.

Would rather?  I better start dumbing down my language.  There I did with the word, dumbing.

Me: Aren’t you hungry?  We’re having hot dogs.

Sean: Hot?  Hot!  Hot!

Sean grabbed Papi’s hand and led him down the hallway to the foyer.  I looked over at my mom for help.

Grandma: It’s fine with me.  We don’t have any plans.

Evan: I’m fine.  You can go now.

Sean: (from the door) Hot!  Hot!  Hot!

Me: If it’s all right with you.  Seanny’s hungry.

Grandma: And wants hot dogs.

Me: Bye, Mom.

I ran to catch up with Sean and my dad.  Sean had banged on the door until Papi opened it, and then Sean pulled Papi to the car and then banged on it.  I clicked the doors unlocked.  My dad put Sean into his seat.

Sean: (pointing at the floor) Ra!  Ra!  Ra!

Papi: Roar!  Good job, Seanny.

Me: No, it’s ra, not roar, Dad.  Here Sean.  Here’s the rocket!

Sean: (reaching for the rocket) Ra!  RA!  RA!

My dad grabbed the rocket and started to play with it, causing Sean to whine and yell RA louder.  My dad whooshed it into Sean’s hands.

Sean: Ra!  Hot!

Me: Ok.  Ok.  Bye, Dad.  See you in a couple hours.

I jumped in the car.  I rolled down the back windows.

Sean: Bye!  Bye!  Byyyyyyeeeeee!

I drove off, trying to sing “Rocket Run.”  It was pretty awful if I do say so my self.  But Sean liked to try counting down with me, by repeating “two, eight.”

Sean: Two.  Eight.  Two.  Eight.  Two!  T-  Brathr? Brathr?  (looks over at the empty car seat) Brathr! 

Sean started to cry about half a mile away from my parents’ house.  The red lights took forever as I tried to reassure Sean that Evan was fine and at Grandma and Papi’s house.  AND WHY is that idiot not typing the damn code for the gate?!  And where is Tinker Bell when you need her? 

We pulled up the driveway with a crying Sean, desperate for his brother.  I plunked him down on the coach, turning on the cartoons as I was desperate for some sort of quiet.  Sean stopped crying to watch; while, I made his lunch of hot dogs, cheese, and raisins.  We ate on a towel, watching cartoons, pretending we were on a picnic.  Sean discovered the joys of raisins and marshmallows dipped in ketchup.  I was just glad he didn’t offer me any.

By naptime, Sean was too tired to care about Evan and fell fast asleep.

When Sean awoke, he was greeted by the usual cheerful excitement of his mom.  I cuddled him, played with him, got him juice and a snack.  For forty-five minutes, Sean was the only child, relishing the attention.  But then he remembered that Evan usually wakes from naptime before he does.

Sean: Brathr!  Brathr!

Sean looked around.  He toddled to the bedroom.  He looked up at the top bunk.

Sean: (pointing to the top bunk) Brathr!

Sean climbed the ladder and jumped into the bed to wrestle his sleeping brother awake.  But there was no brother.  Seeing that he was looking down on his mommy, Sean played and teased me with smiles.  Then he remembered again.  He lifted the pile of comforter to see if his brother was hiding.  But he was not.  So Sean got down.

Sean: Dada? Dada?

Sean toddled to the office, grabbing his daddy’s hand.  He pulled his Daddy out of the office and to the front door, where Sean tried to open the locked door.

Sean: Dada?  Mama?

The husband and I exchanged looks.

The husband: Let’s see where this goes.

I unlocked the door.  Sean opened it, dragging his daddy behind him.  Sean pulled his daddy to the car where he banged on the door.

Me: I guess he’s ready to go.

The husband: Ok, Sean.  Let Daddy put on a new shirt and shoes, and we’ll go.

The husband let go of Sean’s hand and ran inside. 

Me: Seanny, we have to get shoes on.  Shoes.  I need to get my purse and the diaper bag.  Come on.

Sean:  WAIT!  NO!

He grabbed my hand and walked me to the street.  He looked both ways and walked into the street.  Still holding my hand, Sean started walking down the street towards Grandma and Papi’s house, where Evan was, as though Sean was in a car.

Me: Come on, Sean.  Let’s get ready.  It’ll be faster if we take the car.

I scooped up Sean and got us ready, leaving five minutes later.  It turns out Evan didn’t miss us one bit.

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We got a band here

Evan: Old McDonald had a farm.  Ei-eio-.  And on that farm he had a cow-

Sean: Cow.

Evan: Ei-ei-o.  With a moo-moo here.  And a moo-moo there.  Here a moo.  There a moo.  Every where a moo-moo.  Ei-ei-o.

Sean: Oh.

Evan: Old McDonald had a farm. Ei-ei-o.  And on that farm he had a dog-

Sean: Da

Evan: Ei-ei-o.  With a ruff-ruff here.  And a ruff-ruff there.  Here a ruff.  There a ruff.  Every where a ruff-ruff.  Ei-ei-o

Sean: Oh.

Evan: Old McDonald had a farm.  Ei-ei-o.  And on that farm he had a Missing Blink.  Ei-ei-o.

Sean: Oh.

Evan: Mommy!  What does a Missing Blink sound like?

Me: I think he roars.

Sean: Ra!

Evan: Which a roar-roar here.  And a roar-roar there.  Here a roar.  There a roar.  Every where a roar-roar.  Ei-ei-o.

Sean: Oh!

Evan: Old McDonald had a farm.  Ei-ei-o.  And on that farm there was a . . . robot! Ei-ei-o.

Sean: Oh!

Evan: With a-  And a-.  Old McDonald had a farm.  Ei-ei-o!  And on that farm he had a B.O.B.  Ei-ei-o.

Sean: Oh!

Evan: With a Suuuuusan here.  And a Suuuuuuson there.  Oh, I think I scared myself. 

Sean: Oh.

Evan: Old McDonald had a farm.  Ei-ei-o.  And on his farm he had a city. Ei-ei-o.

Sean: Oh!

Me: What?

Evan: Old McDonald had a farm.

Me: But what did he have on his farm?

Evan: I don’t know.  Something.  What did it say?

Me: What did what say?

Evan: What did it say?!

Me: What did what say?

Evan: What. Did. It. Say? Mommy!

Me: (sigh) Old McDonald had a farm.  Ei-ei-o.  And on his farm he had a- (I point to Evan).

Evan: A city!

Sean: Ity!

Me: Oh, a city!

Evan: What does a city say?

Me: Hmmm, how about roar, rumble, honk!

Evan: With a roar-rumble-honk here.  And a roar-rumble-honk there.  Here a rumble-roar-honk.  There a rumble-roar-honk. Everywhere a rumble-roar-honk.  Ei-ei-o.

Sean: Oh!

Evan: Old McDonald had a farm.  Ei-ei-o.  And on his farm he had a silversaurus!  Ei-ei-o!

Sean: Oh!

Evan: With a roar-roar here! 

Sean: Roar!

Evan: And a roar-roar there!

Sean: Roar!

Evan:  Here a roar!  There a roar!  Everywhere a roar-roar! Ei-ei-oooooooo!

Sean: Ooooooooooooooooooh!  Yeah!  (He claps)

 

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Five For Fighting

I know I should have seen it coming.  I knew it was coming.  I should be more prepared.  I should have read books about this.  I should have talked to my mom about it more.  Heck, I should have-

 

What’s going on now?  Be nice!

 

Talked to other moms about it more.  But I didn’t, and now I don’t feel-

 

Knock it off!

 

Prepared.  Because-

 

Be good!  Stop harassing your bother!  Both of you!

 

I am now The Referee. 

 

Like I said I knew it was going to happen.  I mean my brothers and I harassed each other so much that I’m amazed my mom didn’t go prematurely gray, and my dad does blame his hair loss on it.  I just was hoping

 

If Evan is playing with the car, you cannot have it, Sean!  You have to wait until he is done.  Here take this car.

 

That I had a few more years, a few more months, just a few more wee-

 

Sean!  We do not throw cars at our brothers.  Time out!  Evan!  We don’t hit back!  Time out!

 

I need a goddamn whistle.  Hell, I need a penalty box.  F-it I need a drink.

 

I remember how my mom would point out other families whose kids never fought.  We explained to her that it was hidden, unnatural, weird.  Now I realize my words are coming back to bite me in the ass.

 

Boys!  You can play a duet on the piano.  Share!

 

Lately I have been barking the orders to share and to be nice.  And for the love of God, be good.  How hard it is to share?  How hard is it to play with another-

 

We have two guitars.  You can each have one.  Take turns then!

 

So my job description sounds a little like this: maid, chef, dishwasher, laundress, chauffer, personal shopper, doctor, nurse, reader, filer, garbage collector, decorator, librarian, camp counselor, teacher, babysitter, and now Referee.

 

As The Referee, my job disc-

 

Evan, you stay on this side.  Sean, you stay on that side.  Now everyone has room to play.  Evan!  Don’t mess with Sean.

 

Description is to make sure that all injuries are due to accidents and not malice, to keep life as fair between siblings as humanly possible, and to make sure all rules with their penalties are enforced properly.

 

Now what?!

 

I need a time out.

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Tornado S’s First Time Out

Tornado S is teething, which is the toddler equivalent to PMS.  Add to that Tornado S was upset that he couldn’t go outside with his Uncle M to feed the dog.  Tornado S is a pouter.  His temper tantrums include him falling to the floor, face first, sometimes crying.  Tornado S had yet to fall to the floor, but he was pouting.  Tornado E, being the tormenting older brother he was, couldn’t help let the opportunity go by without getting into Tornado S’s face and being . . . well, a brat.

 

So Tornado S did what any naturally pissed off, irritated, annoyed person does when confronted with a bully.

 

He hauled out and punched Tornado E in the face.  When I mean punch, I mean Tornado S cocked his fist back and threw his weight behind it.  Tornado E landed on the floor.

 

For a minute the world stood still, and the four grownups, Papi, Uncle M, Daddy, and me, didn’t know how to react.

 

A family story reemerged.

 

™˜

 

T was T, which is to say T was a tormentor.  He tormented me from the moment he could crawl, and then when M was born, well, it was just one more child to torment.  T just knew how to get under people’s skin, could see the weakness, knew this would get him attention.  So one day, T picked on M, who was just a mere toddler, over and over, ALL DAY.  M was a good natured little guy, enduring it with the fortitude of a rock, until the evening.  T was at M again, which probably wasn’t smart as M was as big as T, though two years younger.  Then in the midst of the teasing, M pulled back his fist and cocked T in the face.  My mother felt her hands were tied as T really did have it coming.

 

—–

 

I wanted to laugh but knew it wouldn’t help.

 

Papi: Tornado S.  It’s time for time-out.

 

I snapped to action.

 

Me: Tornado S.  That was a wrong decision.  That was not nice.  Now you have to go into time-out.

 

I scooped up Tornado S and placed him in the make-shift time-out chair.  I set the timer for a minute and half.  Turning towards the crying Tornado S who was being reminded to stay there by Papi, I saw Tornado E going in for the kill as now Tornado S was a sitting duck.  I swooped in and sent Tornado E to play with Uncle M, rather than taunting his imprisoned little brother.

 

At the end of the time-out, where amazingly Tornado S stayed sitting the whole time, I placed Tornado S on my lap and told him I loved him and that he needed to hug his brother.

 

Tornado S went toward Tornado E to hug him.  Tornado E raised his arm, holding a stuff dragon.  I stuck out my arm to block the blow before it hit Tornado S.  Tornado E’s momentum kept going, sending him face first into my arm.  With a wail, Tornado E shouted “MOMMY HIT ME!”  DON’T HIT YOUR BROTHER.

 

Begun, the clone war has.

1.2.3.4. I declare sibling war.

It happened.  It finally happened.  Ok, maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised. 

 

Last weekend we were visiting some friends, and in their backyard was a swing set with a slide.  The boys were so excited to play with it.  Eventually Evan discovered a new game o0f rolling cars down the slide to Sean who laughed with glee, giving me the car to hand back to Evan to start the process all over again.   Evan kept in his other hand a purple Halloween flashlight that he found and wanted to carry around the house.  So after a dozen times of rolling down the car, Evan realized that the flashlight was round like wheels.  Let’s see what happens.

 

Success.  The flashlight rolled perfectly into Sean’s waiting hands, but rather than hand the flashlight to Mommy, Sean’s chubby hands closed around the flashlight.  Then Sean turned and started pumping those thick legs for all they were worthy.  Evan let out a cry and threw himself down the slide.  This is bad.

 

Since my legs are longer than the boys are tall, I shot past Evan with ease.  Sean had the element of surprise even though he still has that waddle run with his arms pumping side to side.  I caught up to him before he rounded the pool, shouting to Evan to let Mommy handle this.  I grabbed Sean and set him down, kneeling to look eye to eye. 

 

“Evan was playing with this.  This is Evan’s toy.  When he is done with it, you can play with it.  Now give it to Mommy.”

 

I know the only reason Sean wanted it was because Evan had it.  I pried the flashlight out of Sean’s fingers.  I handed it to Evan.  Sean’s hand shot out and grabbed the flashlight.  They tug-a-war-ed it.  I grabbed Sean, pulling him off the flashlight.  Sean wailed as though his puppy died.  Then I carried him inside and dumped him into my husband’s lap.

 

“What’s wrong, Sean,” asked my husband.

 

“He’s acting like a second born.”

 

***

I shouldn’t have been so surprised.  Maybe I should have been surprised over how long they were friends.  According to family legend my brother and I declared war much earlier on.

 

I was sitting, watching TV, holding my Teddy, sucking on my pacifier, minding my own business.  When my brother, my non-sucking pacifier brother, crawled over, he took the pacifier out of my mouth and crawled away.  When he was safely past arms length, he sat down, waved the pacifier in my direction to make sure I knew he had it, and stuck it in his mouth.  Are you kidding me?!  And I did what any toddler would do.  I started to cry.  And plot revenge.

 

And then it was a free for all after that.  Little moon-shape scars from fingernails.  Clumps of hair pulled from the root.  Barbie doll heads, hot wheel wheels, broken banks, broken toys.  Lies, blaming, tattling, arguments.  Wrestling matches that went on hours after the favorite TV show was over and unwatched.  A malignant hate that spread amongst the three of us in all consuming war that finally cumulated to the devastating head of-

 

Actually we eventually grew out of it in our late teens, early twenties, and we actually call one another and hang out.  It’s weird.  Of course, the minute the parents leave us alone with the TV and remote, we start arguing again.

 

***

 

So now whatever Evan has, Sean must have  it NOW.  If Evan is eating something, even if Sean has his own or already ate his own, he must have Evan’s NOW.  Not that Evan doesn’t just run by to hit, push, kick Sean whenever he gets the urge.  You can actually see it in Evan’s eyes when he’s decided to do something to Sean.

 

The other day, Sean bent down to examine something on the ground.  Evan took the opportunity to go behind Sean and start kicking him in the bum.  Sean was as unmoved as a rock.  I was horrified, and Evan spent sometime in the time out chair.

 

Or the day when Evan refused to nap and fell asleep on the couch watching football with his dad.  Out of nowhere, Sean came over and just started wailing on Evan, who slept through the whole thing.  We would scold Sean and distract him, but two minutes later he’s getting in his blows.  Hey, show some respect.  At least, do it when your parents aren’t watching!

 

So I’m knee deep in sibling rivalry.  Part of it’s my fault because I can’t seem to remember to buy two of everything.  Why the hell didn’t I buy two Wall*e’s.  And Bill Cosby may be right; eventually I won’t care about justice, just peace.

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