Thursday, March 17, 2011


I grew up with sisters.

I mean, I have a brother, but as he was the only boy amidst the four siblings, I don't have any real experience with brothers.

Can you recite this entire book from memory? I can!

My lack of experience in this area has become of special concern to me considering that I've recently given birth to a second son. For those of you keeping track at home, this means that in my life - it's brothers rising.
And so, I find myself scrambling with no small degree of desperation to understand the mystical world of brothers before my boys begin to really interact. At present their relationship consists almost entirely of long periods of mutual avoidance, occasionally interrupted by brief episodes of violence (like, say, when Crink touches the Snood in the bathtub and is rewarded by a strong stiff arm that knocks him back into the water.)

(NOTE: We are actively working to correct this situation, please do not contact child welfare authorities until further notice.)

My husband has a younger brother, and I decided that, as part of my research into all things brotherly, I would attempt an analysis of their relationship. This lead me to some fairly disturbing conclusions.

I should say as a point of reference that I talk to both of my sisters every day. And I mean we talk. We discuss our careers, we delve into our deepest personal concerns, we bemoan our problem areas, we dream of what the future holds for our children, and yes, we mull over the ill-advised plastic surgery choices of The Real Housewives of Fill In the City. Basically, if I've thought about it, you can be fairly sure that I've talked it through at length with one or both of my sisters.

My husband and his brother? Not so much with the talking.

While I recognize as an absolute fact that my husband and his brother love each other deeply, it would appear that both feel that their brotherly connection is best expressed via tagging pictures of various animal posteriors on Facebook with each other’s names.

Not to say they don’t talk at all. About once a month I'll ask my husband if he's spoken with his brother recently. The conversation that follows goes something like this:

HUSBAND: Oh yeah, we talked a couple of weeks back.
ME: Oh, yeah? How's he doing?
HUSBAND: Pretty good, I guess.
ME: What did you guys talk about?
HUSBAND: Oh! He got the new Droid phone. That thing is really cool.
ME: OK. I was wondering more if he is doing alright after the fire that burned his house to the ground?*
HUSBAND: Oh, yeah. I don't know. We didn't really talk about that.

And it’s not just the two of them, either. The more I talk to brothers about their brothers, the more I realize that their love just takes a different form than its sisterly equivalent. Beyond the lack of communication, there is the constant reminscing about a shared history of assaults. When I've asked men I know about growing up with a brother almost all of them recounted fond childhood memories that, had they not happened between siblings, would likely have involved extensive criminal charges.

I stood by slack-jawed as male friends laughed at misty water-colored memories such as…

the way my brother used to use his feet to launch me across the room onto this mattress. One time we missed the mattress and I crashed through the end table and broke Mom’s favorite lamp! And my arm!
that summer I figured out I could dangle my brother by the feet off the upstairs porch! Looking back that probably wasn't so safe. But good times I tell you…
…Oh my God! The time that my brother tried to convince me to get in this trashcan that he was going to throw off this bridge. That would have been so awesome...

This is what I have to look forward to, folks.

Cain and Abel - trendsetters

With two “high-spirited” boys 19-months apart my full-time job seems destined to become lying awake and worrying about what plots the two of them might next be hatching against each other. Study suggests that our current bathtub hijinks are mild compared to the several decades of brother-on-brother warfare I have to look forward to.

At least I’ll have my sisters to talk it over with.

* some details may have been mildly exaggerated for effect.


  1. Meg, I used to stand at the door of my brother's room saying "you can't touch me, you can't touch me, I'm not in your room". He would seethe with anger...but it was easy to wait me out. Eventually I'd have to go through his room to get to the rest of the house (say, to eat something) and he could pounce on me and beat me into submission as soon as I crossed the threshold. This pattern repeated itself for years.

  2. Ok, I have a website ( -- I know, shameless plug), where moms tell their best "bad mom" stories. But reading this, it suddenly occurred to me that someone needs to compile all the best brother stories. Take my friend, whose brothers used to make him climb out the top hatch onto the roof of their camper (you know, the type that goes on the back of a truck) while they were all riding in the back and their parents were up in the cab, driving down the highway!

    Great post. Really enjoyed it.

  3. I have 2 boys, 6 and 8. They are 20 months apart and my nerves are completely shot. I have given up my ideals of a close, nurturing relationship between them and have instead migrated toward training them to survive to adulthood.

    Ben is currently chasing Sam (the robot) around the breakfast table with a pen. He is defending himself with a cardboard sword. I have to go now...

    Good luck!

  4. I have a 6 year-old boy and triplet boys that are 4.5. Believe me, the things they come up with are mind boggling. But, I think the key is getting control early on (it actually IS possible...sort of). Looking on with a fond "boys will be boys" attitude early on results in various and sundry murder attempts during the adolescent and teen years. Just sayin'. ;)

  5. I was kind of hoping that all the comments would run towards, 'What are you talking about - my boys get along wonderfully!' I guess not so much. That getting control early on thing sounds promising, Jodi. Now if I can only figure out how....

  6. I'm living it. I have a 3 yr old and an 8 year old, and yes, beat downs, farts and grunting as a primary form of communication seems to be a brotherly thing lol. Good Luck! Visiting all the blogs from circle of moms. Great blog!

  7. I'm not sorry that I hoped for a girl. My sister is the baby boy lover in the family and she's really good at them.

  8. Your husband talking to his brother might as well been my husband talking to his brothers...actually, that would imply they've talked recently, and I'm pretty sure either one of them picked up a phone was back in 2003.
    And I have a brother, and I don't want to talk to him either. I think you're so lucky to have a sister!!!

  9. I have two boys, 6 and 7, 22 months apart. This year they are both in elementary school and I honestly can't believe that I made it to this momentous milestone without a nervous breakdown.

    I have a 9 year old daughter also but the drama that she has is oh so different that the boys!