Tuesday, August 14, 2007

He is His Brother's Keeper. And Maimer. But Mostly His Keeper.

The sibling love runneth deep in this house. That is, it runneth when they aren't hitting, biting, snatching, yelling, pushing, and tackling each other. But I can live with the maiming (even as frequently as it happens) because of what runs beneath that: the very real, very endearing, and very complex love my children have for one another.

Tonight while John, Paige, and I were finishing up dinner, Owen and Mitch were playing tug-o-war with a jump rope in the family room. Of course, eventually, Owen tried the old "let go while the other person is pulling with all his might" trick and Mitch went flying. He fell against the brick hearth, scraping and bruising his side pretty badly. Mitch is usually a stoic little guy, so when we heard his pained howl and Owen's frantic "I'm sorry, Mitch! I'm sorry!" we knew he was really hurt.

Owen looked on, his brow furrowed in sincere concern, as we iced Mitch's bruise and wiped his tears, and he told Mitch he was sorry a few more times. He kept eying us warily, waiting for a punishment, until I finally told him it was okay. We knew it was an accident. We knew he hadn't meant to hurt Mitch.

After calming everyone down, I went about my 7:00 business: dishes, baby bathing, counter wiping, next-day-lunch making. I could see Owen at the kid-sized table in the family room, occupied with drawing (a common sight in our house) and Mitch on the couch with Dee Dee (his beloved blankie), sucking his fingers in post-accident recuperation. A few minutes later I overheard Owen telling Mitch he'd made something for him; then he handed his little brother the notes in the photo above and quietly explained to him what the words said.

The affection my children show for one another is, without a doubt, the best thing about parenting siblings. Nothing is more gratifying than to know that those I love best in the world are cherished nearly as much by other people. Every morning, every single morning, Mitch's chin wobbles when he wakes up and realizes that Owen is already at school. And every day, Mitch asks from about 10:00 on if it's time to pick Owen up yet. On Saturdays, Owen, the early riser, begs to be allowed to wake Mitch up, and if I tell him no, he makes up excuses to go into their room, clearly plotting to "accidentally" wake him.

Tonight Paige walked (well, stumbled) across the family room behind her push toy for the first time. The boys' excitement at this feat and their cheers and hair ruffling congratulations afterward had Paige beaming. I swear I could almost see an aura of love and admiration around her; she was fairly aglow with it. I've posted before about how heartwarming the boys' adoration of Paige is, but every time I witness it, it bowls me over again. At times like those, I imagine that Paige will always hold a special place in the family, in the sibling order. The boys will always dote on her, encourage her, help her along, and she will bask in their affection, thrive in it.

Before sitting down to write this post, I peeked in at Owen and Mitch, asleep their beds--twin beds that they've pushed together so they can sleep next to each other. When I left after putting them to bed tonight, each was on his own side, tucked in neatly with plenty of space left between them. But just now, at 11:30, they had, as they do every night, migrated toward each other as they slept and were sprawled out in the middle of the bed together, limbs entwined, mouths agape, wearing expressions of pure contentment. The contentment of feeling safe and loved and close to someone who is looking out for you. Someone who looks forward to seeing you every day.

Even if it's only so he can pummel you for overstaying your turn on the computer.


painted maypole said...

How sweet - this is a part of parenthood I will never know, but I love these glimpses of it.

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

And great blog name, by the way.

MadMad said...

Awwww.... What a great picture of them in the bed together. So sweet! Loved it!

cbhogan said...

this made me tear up ashley...and think about my feelings surrounding those tender memories shared within our family growing up.