Both of our kids are terrific. They are incredibly smart and funny and just all around awesome kids (yes, I know I’m very biased here). When they are not around each other, they are perfect angels. They are polite and inquisitive and always very nice.
When you put them together, however, there is some sort of weird chemical reaction that takes place and threatens to destroy the fabric of the universe. The go after each other and refuse to leave the other alone. The poke and grab and hit and tattle until everyone in the house is on edge.
They are a little under 3 years apart (our son will be 3 in March and our daughter turns 6 in June). When we decided that we wanted to have 2 kids, this age difference was what we planned on (as much as you can plan such things, anyway).
We did this mostly because of my experience growing up. CinC HOUSE is an only child, so she didn’t have any reference when it came to sibling age differences. I have a younger brother though. He is also in the Navy and doing very well for himself. He has an amazing wife that we all love, and it’s awesome that we actually live in the same geographical area for the first time in 14 years. We try to get together at least a few times a month. He’s awesome with the kids, and I’m incredibly proud of what he’s accomplished. We can also combine to form the greatest pinochle team in the world. Trust me, you don’t want to play pinochle against us. On a side note, he may be one of the few people on the planet that likes tattoos more than I do (we’re sailors, what do you expect?).
Growing up was a different story. He’s almost a full 5 years younger than me. We never really got along, but we never really fought either. Our interests were just so different that we rarely interacted. The only thing I really remember arguing about was the remote control for the TV. I usually wanted to watch sports, and he wanted to watch cartoons. I remember finding intricate hiding spots for the remote before school so that he wouldn’t be able to find it when we got home. Other than that, however, we were just there. I loved him and we had our differences, but for the most part, we just kept to ourselves.
CinC HOUSE and I wanted to have a different experience for our kids, so we decided to have them closer together. Closer ages means more things in common which means best friends. Right??? Perhaps not so much. It may have backfired somewhat.
They are close enough that they want to play together, but they don’t want to play the same things. Our daughter wants to be an authority type figure like a teacher and boss him around. Our son isn’t exactly down with that scenario and is willing to use his fists to prove it. Nearly every time they play together, it degenerates into screams and punches. During those rare times when they seem to enjoy each other’s company, no one else moves so that we don’t disturb whatever miraculous flow is bringing this peace down upon us. Sometimes, it was enough to make you wonder whether they even liked each other.
Well, earlier this week, we got our answer. I got home from work and walked through the front door. Military Gramma (always the joker) instructs our daughter, “now, go tell your daddy what I’m going to do.” She comes up to me on the verge of tears and says, “Gramma (my mom) said that she’s going to mail my brother to Bamma (my wife’s mom).” At that point, I said something completely inappropriate like, “I’m sure she’ll use first class” or “I’ll make sure there are holes in the box” (is the Dad of the Year voting over yet?).
My daughter immediately broke into earth shattering sobs and said, “but I love him so much." Yep, try looking your daughter in the eye after that one. I think it’s fair to say that both mine and gramma’s hearts were broken in two. We spent about 5 minutes consoling her and ensuring her that it was only a joke and nobody was going to send her brother anywhere.
The good news is that we have indisputable proof that our kids love each other. The bad news is that we may have traumatized my daughter in order to find that proof. It’s a good thing that Daddy of the Year voting resets on the first of the year.