I have three boys who I love dearly. I was so delighted to see the first two who are less than two years apart bond so well. They are very different in their likes and dislikes, but they are unquestionably a team and have been ever since the older discovered that the next one could do more than drool and eat.
The problem came in with the third. He adores his older brothers and at times they tolerate him, but they never bonded with him with that same tight bond that the first two bonded with. Perhaps it was also due to the fact that he is a little younger - the gap is just slightly over two years there - and perhaps because the long awaited, long prayed for sister came only two years after him, and she was the delight of all the boy's lives. They vied for her attention and approval, and that sort of left Number Three all on his own.
Number three responded by being more whiny and fussy than I would like him to be. Over the last few years, as the older ones grew, and the third continued to whine, he became more and more of an unwanted playmate. As he became more unwanted, he whined more - creating a vicious circle.
This year is a big year for us. My oldest starts high school. Whew - so hard for me to believe, but he is growing. He's a great kid - I love him and am proud of him. He's just at that bridge between boy and growing towards man. Still hasn't hit a huge growth spurt yet, so he's still little, but he acts big at times. And he is one good looking kid - nothing fancy, but good looking. He's great at sports, which I never was just because we were never given a chance where we lived. He's got a great attitude and is a good team player. I like my boy. I'm sending him off to highschool proud of him and at peace with his ability to face what is ahead. He's been well-taught, he makes good choices, he cares little about what others think, but thinks deeply about what God wants, and he talks to his parents openly and honestly. We've done the best we could in the situations he was raised in and he is a good kid.
But what makes me smile this week as I watch him getting ready for school and spending more time with his friends (also good kids whose families are friends with us), is what is happening with the remaining two brothers. I took them all out yesterday with a friend of my daughter's, and we played at a park. This park has two cool swings that look like flying saucers on ropes. There were my #2 and #3 boys together making it swing as high as they could. When they tired, they spread their towels from swimming out on the swing, curled up in it together and just sat swinging. Today, my oldest is out and my other two boys are curled up on the couch together playing a computer game without any fussing.
So I smile. These next two years before #2 goes off to highschool may be very good years. Years in which the other two can bond, too. Oh, they will all be home at night, but #2 and #3 will be at one school together. It is a time for figuring out new ways of relating to each other.
And that brings me hope.