I went out to dinner several years ago with two adult brothers. We were reminiscing about childhood and I remember them telling a story that shocked me. They talked about their famous rock fight. They mentioned in passing that they both put on goggles as they began a gigantic fight that involved standing at opposite sides of the yard chucking rocks at each other.
What got me is that they were old enough (and smart enough) to think of wearing goggles, but yet they still thought it would be fun to hurl rocks at each other’s head! What were they thinking? Well, I now realize that they were just brothers. That is what brothers do and I don’t think it’s changing anytime soon.
The first time that I met my husband’s brother’s family, my husband was about 26 years old and he and I were newlyweds. His brother was in his early 30s. The day somehow ended with my husband wearing a sombrero, wrestling, and fighting with his brother in the front yard. I only have one brother so I had never really been around this kind of brother energy before. It was very foreign to me, but I do remember thinking that this must be normal. This must be how they relate to each other and how they show love.
Some days, I am absolutely flattened by the amount of energy in my house. I have a hard time relating to the constant wrestling. There are days when I feel more like Vince McMahon than mom, but something tells me he makes more money than I do. Why is it that my 3-year-old feels the continual need to jump on his brother’s back and scream? This happens 60 times a day. In our house or in the line at the grocery store. At the bus stop or as I put them in the car. I can’t relate and find it hard to empathize with them when their actions are so foreign to me.I know that I get more frustrated than I should sometimes and I wish I had my own history to reflect back on and remember what that kind of energy felt like. Unfortunately, I really don’t. I was too busy dressing up my stuffed animals and arranging them on my bed. Not a lot of screaming going on there.
But, then I have to stop and just watch them for a while. They both love it. They are screaming and laughing and the glee on their faces is supremely evident. This is what they will remember. As they grow up, they’ll joke about all of the wrestling they did and carry those memories as a bond that will tether them through adulthood. That’s what brothers do. So, I move the coffee table out of the way and let them have at it.
I try to remind myself that there will be a time in my future when I will miss this craziness. I will someday sit in my quiet house when those boys are off living their own lives and I will remember these chaotic, loud, and tiring days. Until, that is, they come to visit. In which case, I’ll have to dust off the goggles and the sombrero and welcome them home with open arms and my old referee shirt.
Stephanie Olson is a mom of two boys who lives and writes in Seattle. She spends her days addicted to both hard news and gossip, avoiding yard work, and trying to come up with rules that will allow her boys to wrestle happily without killing each other.