Sunday, May 23, 2010

Brotherly Love

My lovely wife worries about our little German. He has chronic hives, he is dyslexic, and she worries about the difficulties he may face in the future.

I tend to worry more about our little Italian. He is sweet, he is smart beyond his years, but he wears his heart on his sleeve. He can turn from zero to angry whiner on a dime. What wouldn't have given him a moment's pause one day, the next day becomes part of a greater conspiracy designed to ruin his day and keep him from realizing whatever twisted definition of "fair" seems to be eluding him.

Even though those days are becoming fewer and farther between, I still worry that one day he will vent in the wrong way to the wrong person and get his clock cleaned. But just when I start thinking its time to call an exorcist, he displays signs that tell me I need to be hopeful. Leaving school, I'll see him walking hand-in-hand with his brother. At the movie theatre, I'll see him clinging to his sister with a huge, protracted bear hug.

The best example of his inherent sweetness came about two years ago. The German was not feeling well and fell asleep on the sofa in the living room an hour before bedtime. At the normal time, the Italian had his treat, brushed his teeth, and went into the room he shares with the German to change into pajamas. Before we knew what was happening, he came back out into the living room carrying his pillow and a blanket.

"I'm going to sleep next to him on the floor so he doesn't get lonely," the Italian said. I'm pretty sure we were both crying by the time we tucked them both properly into their beds.

The funny thing is that one day about five or six years ago my parents were watching the boys for the day and brought them home at 4:00pm. My father carried the Italian in and laid him on the living room sofa. He slept through dinner and showed no signs of stirring. My lovely wife and I decided to leave him there for the night, so we brought out his favorite stuffed animal and covered him with a blanket.

This time it was the German's turn to go through the normal bedtime routine. We tucked him into bed, kissed him goodnight, and went to our bedroom to watch television. The Italian was still sleeping away in the living room. After twenty minutes, my lovely wife asked if heard something. We turned down the volume on the television and clearly heard a noise that required further inspection.

In his bed -- big wet tears soaking his face, hair and pillow -- the German was sobbing uncontrollably. We hugged him and tried asking what was wrong but he couldn't answer. Finally, my lovely wife asked if he missed his brother. He sobbed even louder and nodded his head. Again, we cried.

Even farther back, when the boys had just learned to walk, we visited a shopping mall in Fayetteville. We split up to cover ground more quickly. My lovely wife took the Italian and our daughter while I took the German. Maybe thirty minutes later we met up again to finish our shopping. When I walked up with the German holding my finger, he saw his brother some fifty feet away standing near his mother. Their eyes locked. Their mouths fell open. They both called "NeeNee" -- their way of saying their names at the time -- and charged toward each other at top toddler speed with arms wide open. They embraced as though they hadn't seen each other in years. Yes, we cried then too.

I suppose neither my lovely wife nor I should worry about either boy. So long as they have each other -- and their loving sister -- I think they will be okay.

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