It’s Saturday morning and I have just gotten up off the couch to help myself to more coffee. The eldest is playing Monster Hunter World and the little (not-so-little) one is watching him.
I pause in the kitchen, empty mug waiting to be refilled, and do what moms often do as their kids grow. I watch my boys. Soak this scene in. Trying for all the world to imprint on my memory the feel of this morning.
My eldest is sitting on the couch with his now long legs perched on the edge of the cubes we use for ottomans, taking on a difficult monster. The game is testing his preparedness, his instinct, his cunning. The game’s music surges to let him know when the fight is getting serious. And my little-not-so-little one is on his feet, jumping with all the excitement that his body cannot contain, cheering his brother on. “Boom! Get him!” His brother’s best cheerleader.
It’s in these moments I feel like I did it right. Through all the mistakes and goof-ups that a parent can stumble with, these two have the bond I always hoped for them.
It didn’t come without work to eradicate sibling rivalry. We wouldn’t allow competition. We gave them cooperative games. We didn’t let them manage each other. That was not their job, that was Mom and Dad’s job. I told them time and again that it’s them against the world, them against Mom and Dad. I paired them up. I made them a team. I didn’t allow them to hit or bite each other. We sat the eldest down and told him that his younger brother would always want what he has in his hands. That it wasn’t fair, but it couldn’t be changed until he was older. So if he gets a car for himself to play with, have a second one for when his brother wants it. And when they got old enough, we defended each of them getting to fully enjoy their turn. They would have to wait until their sibling was done with what they were playing with.
Of course, their bond was there from the beginning. Our youngest thought his brother was the Bee’s Knees from the get go. His brother could make him laugh when he was two weeks old. The eldest had wanted a sibling dearly, and somehow knew he was coming before we told him. Still, I knew that bond had to be fostered, that sibling rivalry could kill familial fondness. So I worked for it.
I blink, a little misty, head to the coffee maker and pour my second cup. In the living room, I sit back down to watch the eldest finish fighting the monster, his brother cheering him on all the while. With the monster defeated, the youngest gets treated to viewing new parts of the weapons tree that his brother unlocked. And I beam inwardly as the eldest declares himself done and asks his brother if he wants a turn with the game. Well done, my boys.