Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

 Nate and Calvin, June 13, 2010

My boys are apart right now. On Monday, Calvin and Toby went off on a backpacking trip Nate wasn't quite feeling up to after the infamous poison oak incident (whoops, I think I just let slip who got the worst of it), and won't be back until tonight. This means that Nate has been without Calvin for almost three days, and vice versa.

Oh, the agony.

Because they're close, these two. Share-a-room-by-choice close. Whisper-in-the-dark close. Suffer-poison-oak-together-and-live-to-tell-the-tale close. And though they're both buddies with their youngest brother, too, there's an undeniable bond between #1 and #2. Maybe it was forged during those early years of our family, when pregnancy-babyhood-toddlerhood-oh-my-god-another-pregnancy-babyhood-toddlerhood ruled the hour. Maybe the simultaneous diaper changes and joint stroller rides and shared sippy cups left their mark. Or the perpetually exhausted mother. Or the fact that they were both brought home from the same hospital to the same little cottage-style house on the same shaded street and put to bed in the same crib in the same tiny yellow and blue room.

By the time Toby came along (pregnancy-babyhood-oh-my-god again?!), we were in Oregon. We were in a larger house in a more established neighborhood. Nate was starting school, Calvin preschool, no longer underfoot each and every hour of the day, their little heels dug so deeply into the trenches of home and hearth (and exhausted mother). They were other, while Toby was what they once were, together: the newborn. The baby. The toddling toddler. Loved certainly...included definitely...but one step off his brothers' joint rhythm nonetheless.

But back to the here and now: when we told the boys that Nate would not be able to go backpacking, Calvin let out a genuine cry of disappointment ("But it's no fun without him!"), and Nate's been wandering around a bit aimlessly since ("Is this what it would be like to be the only kid around here?"). So often I hear how lucky I am to have sons who get along so well. But of course I'm not the lucky one. They are, to each have such a ready and willing ally at their side, now and later. I know there will be times in their future when distance or circumstance separate them and they have less in common than they do right now, siblings in the same household, sharing Legos and bathroom towels and (occasionally) underwear when I mix them up. Maybe they'll be in different cities or states or even countries, experiencing completely different day-to-day realities, but nevertheless, I fervently hope that this prolonged time of concentrated sibling-ship from birth to age 18 is enough to seal the deal on lifelong friendship. That these years of intense, in-your-face, next-to-you-in-the-car, hey-that's-mine, no-that's-cool brotherhood will someday serve as the proverbial Paris they'll always have.

And can lean back on.

And can throw the occasional spit-wad at.

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