Late yesterday afternoon my middle son had a boy spat with one of his neighborhood friends. He had already stomped back home a few times for this or that reason and this last time I told him that was enough. Just call it a day. It was close to dinnertime anyway. I asked the friend’s mom to send my oldest home, and thanked her for having them.
Come to find out, there was some sort of “brother’s triangle” going on, where the friend and my middle son had a disagreement, and my oldest still wanted to hang out with him, even though the neighbor is more my middle son’s friend than my oldest’s.
This prompted another discussion about family unity and “boyalty” — loyalty among the brothers.
Today, the neighbor knocked on the door not long after we came home from church to ask if my oldest could come over and shoot hoops. I told him that might be a nice idea, but he was across the street with another friend. He said he’d come back later. I did not offer my middle son at the time, because he was doing something with his younger brother, and I didn’t want him to even think about ditching his little bro.
A while later, I called the two of them downstairs to help me in the back yard. They were reluctant, but I felt shored up by a conversation I’d had with a friend yesterday about not letting them off the hook regarding pitching in. Besides, it tied into the conversation I wanted to have about family unity and teamwork.
My youngest flat out refused to pick up any sticks. I told him his consequence would be loss of DS privileges. He opted for that choice anyway and went over to the swing sets, so I had one on one time with my middle son.
I told him, “So and so came by asking for your brother. How do you feel about that.”
“Did he say I could come, too?”
“No, but did you forget that you told me you never wanted to see him again? That’s why I didn’t bring it up.”
“Well, that was yesterday…what if he says I can’t come over today?”
“Well, he might. Then neither of you will go.”
“What if my brother still goes.”
“Honey, I won’t let him. When he gets home, I’ll talk to him about it.”
About the time my oldest came back over, and I integrated him into the backyard cleanup, our neighbor was out in his back yard. He came over to the hole in the fence when I was passing by with the wheelbarrow and asked me if my oldest could come over. I told him we were doing a chore first, and that he and my middle son needed to talk. So, I sent my middle son over to the fence. Soon enough I heard laughter and other sounds of camaraderie. I never heard, “I’m sorry,” but is it even necessary? Boys don’t seem to waste time on grudges. It’s either, “You stink” and move on no longer friends. Or “What argument?” and move on, same as it ever was.
My oldest asked me, “How come he’s not doing anything?” and pointed to his youngest brother on the swings. I told him that he would rather not play his DS than help us with the chore, but that if he could find a way to encourage him, I’d be more than happy.”
My oldest went over to talk to my youngest and shortly thereafter my youngest was throwing twigs into the wheelbarrow. He announced, “Mark says I can play Mario Cart!”
“Oh, what great news, honey! I’m so glad you decided to help!” as I smiled at my oldest.
My oldest said, “Mom, it works better when you give him something rather than take something away.”
I had no clever reply to that.
After we finished cleaning up the yard, I sent The Bigs over to the neighbors’ house to shoot hoops in their driveway, and pitched baseballs to my youngest.