My youngest son, Aaron was born when his siblings were in grade school. This age difference secured him a unique relationship in the family. By the time Aaron was 2 years old, he worshiped his siblings as gods.
They knew how to do all the cool kid things. They could ride trikes. They could climb trees. They could build complex cities out of Legos. They could ride horses. They even had an archery set set up in the backyard. There was no end to the amount of cool his siblings were capable of.
His face would just light up when they started doing their older child activities. He wanted to join them so badly but he was too young to join them in their pursuits for most of his life. His dad and I were fairly selective about maintaining age appropriate behavior.
Once our backs were turned, his restrictions vanished. Aaron’s siblings gave him chocolate from their Halloween bags when he was 3 months old. They pushed him down slides that were intended for kids twice his age. They randomly left out beads or hairpins that were far from toddler safe. They showed him how to use their air soft guns. Sometimes I do not know how he survived childhood.
Through all these adventures, Aaron never lost his faith in his siblings. They had the best toys. They had the coolest friends. They had the most daring ideas. Just when he began to doubt them, they moved out.
Last year, my middle son, Dylan moved back home. The economy is merciless to kids his age. If he is ever going to make it to architecture school, he has to save money. Aaron did not mind in the least.
Now that some time has passed, Aaron has learned to question his siblings. He is 14 years old and suspects that they may have the capacity to be just as dumb as his parents. The shift in his attitude does not seem problematic. It is just part of growing up.
Last week, Aaron and I made cookies. The whole house smelled like a bakery. Dylan was lured down from his room. I could hear him talking to Aaron in the kitchen while I worked on the computer in the back room. I went back to the kitchen to pull the last batch out of the oven just as Dylan dropped a cookie on the floor.
“That is NOT how you eat cookies, ” Aaron chided. He crossed his arms and took the stance of the all-knowing expert. Here was a chance to show his older brother who was boss.
Dylan picked up the cookie and looked at Aaron with a mischievous grin. He paused dramatically and then stuffed the entire cookie into his mouth. Aaron stared at him in disbelief. The cookies were each about 4 inches in diameter and it had formerly been on our floor. Rules were being violated willy-nilly.
He looked over at me. I paused and blinked in surprise. Gross.
Aaron’s face lit up just like it did when he was much younger. He grabbed a cookie off the plate next to him and stuffed it in his mouth too. Both boys started chewing with noises that I distinctly remember from Sesame Street. Dylan smiled slyly. His role as revered older brother was secure for another day.