Brotherly Animosity

I never had a sibling so I can’t speak from experience, but I’ve heard enough stories to know that brothers do heinous things to each other. Most of them revolve around an older brother forcing a younger one to do something disgusting: drink spit, eat the contents of an ashtray, or allow for his mouth to be farted upon (“farted upon” is so grotesquely proper). I guess that’s just how boys express love. I’m sure my sons will do similarly hilarious things that I’ll laugh about with them when their mom’s not in the room. All that’s probably a decade away though, and who knows whether I’ll still think “hostage farts” are funny when I’m 50. I certainly hope I will.

At 2 and 4 years-old neither of them is wicked enough to force the other into a situation where they might contract E-coli. All they can do now is annoy the shit out of each other. Arlo is a little too young to play with Silas and Silas isn’t quite old enough to understand that playing with Arlo requires patience, a high pain threshold and a flexible definition of ownership.

Arlo wants to play with Silas, badly. Unfortunately, he communicates that desire by drawing on him or putting his foot in his food. I try to explain to Silas  that Arlo only does these things because he wants  to “play”, but eventually feel as if I’m explaining to a 12 year-old girl why all the boys pull her hair. I guess because young people don’t know how to ask for things or express themselves directly, they just abuse each other in hopes that, by some stroke of social magic, their message of peace and togetherness will shine through.

My boys play together sometimes, but it’s usually centered on one of them chasing the other, and ends quickly and abruptly when one snags their sock on a nail, or breaks a mysterious rule that was made up on the spot. We try to encourage them to do more things together, but that, of course, only makes things weird for everyone. “Why don’t you guys go outside and play soccer together!?!?!?!” is met with confused stares from both of them that say, “Have you not been paying attention AT ALL?”

Maybe if we were bad parents and left them alone in the house while we went to the bar, they would be forced to grow closer. Unfortunately, we have to consider the legal ramifications of such a controversial experiment.

I'm a contributing writer to Parents Magazine, GQ, Psychology Today and some others. My book, "This is Ridiculous. This is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists" is available here Look for two more books in 2015: "Must. Push. Buttons (Bloomsbury Kids), and an as-of-yet untitled memoir I’ve appeared on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham” and “Nick Mom’s Night Out." I live in New Jersey with my wife and two sons and enjoy making them laugh more than anyone else.

1 comments On Brotherly Animosity

  • I was one of six. We operated in a constantly changing kaleidoscope of pairs. Two would play with each other, defending each other from or even ganging up against the other pairs. Just when one pair got tired of hanging around with each other, the whole arrangement would break up and different pairs would form. Your two boys will have no other options. What do they do when they get REALLY tired of each other?

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