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.