I have a 4-year-old preschooler boy and a 20-month-old toddler girl. They are 2 years and 10 months apart…close enough to be companionate, but spaced enough to be potential rivals. When Jai was born, Jrue was deeply swimming in his own “two-year-old-ness.” The days were spent roaming the house for lost toys and spinning around in the living room and fighting mommy’s mandatory nap schedule. Jrue was an exploratory toddler, usually seeking out something that could tempt his fingers to investigate. He especially loved cars and books and would often string them around the house as he browsed his environments. Because his childcare took place at home between a trusted part-time nanny and my nephew, he became somewhat of an innovative individualist, determined and hospitable and tentative.
We bought 6-pound, 4-ounce Jai home the evening of April 15, 2016. We had prepped Jrue for her arrival for months by talking about the baby and how we hold the baby and what the baby eats and how awesome of a big brother he was going to be. Jrue took in his big brother possibilities what seemed like willingly by requesting his specific big brother “Little Critter” book and babbling to mommy’s tummy. He was into the bump heavily from my first trimester on, giving me a clear sign, along with the never-ending sickness, that I was definitely having a girl. Jrue was excited and outwardly looked forward to meeting the baby.
Now that I look back on it, he was too young to fully understand the tasks to come.
On that April day, he took to celebrating Jai’s home arrival by kicking over our kitchen trash can.
Then he threw all of his cars into the hallway with loud shrieks of discontent.
Luckily, my parents were in town and devoted themselves to keeping Jrue under wraps as mommy started the eternal assignment that is exclusive breastfeeding and daddy got some much-needed sleep.
As the weeks moved forward, Jrue was just “okay” with Jai. We’d try to get him involved with her often. We’d invite him over to watch her get a diaper change or be swaddled. He’d sing, “Noooo…” and would run out of the room. It wasn’t until she was more than 6 weeks old when we could get our first picture of the two of them together, as Jrue would previously attempt to push her out of his lap when we’d prop her against him.
The only reason the picture was halfway successful was because I held Jai up with one arm and Jrue held his tablet.
Here we are, approaching almost two years of their meeting anniversary. Jrue has mostly relegated himself to the fact that she is staying, permanently. When Jai is around, he either shares so sweetly or swings at her. When she’s not around, he constantly asks about her location and time of arrival. It’s hard to say if my children necessarily “love” one another yet, but those days when I catch them playing together or wrestling on my bed make me warm and fuzzy to the probability.
I want so much for my babies to be “bros” and to cultivate the greatest bromance possible.
When I think of “bromance,” I think of an unspoken verbal intimacy with specific boundaries. There is a camaraderie through which they can provide one another’s best advice and one another’s deepest comforts. There are rules to maintaining the friendship that keep it ticking; there are surface-level perceptions to be kept. However, they are close, with their own invented idiosyncrasies and tendencies and communication styles and loving ways of being.
On the future day that they sit in their tent and refuse daddy’s or mommy’s participation, I’ll know that we’re nearly there.
A piece for NBA.com on James’ and Wade’s relationship from the point of view of Dywane Wade says, “James? He’s all the things close friends are. Mostly good (romping, teasing, sharing, advising each other as players, businessmen, fathers). And a little bad – James did leave Wade and the Heat behind two years ago, taking team success with him from south Florida to northeast Ohio.” (Aschburner, 2016) In all honesty, that’s the method through which I view my Jrue. He’s a chatterbox and an appreciator. He’s as “loving” as ribbing allows…usually shown through tickling and singing and dancing to make Jai laugh. Jrue allocates as much of himself to his sister as he can control, which I detect through the hesitancy he shows in selection when I ask him to “please give one to Jai.” One day, he may move out or go off to college, leaving Jai to finish out high school and bear the brunt of mommy’s bad jokes alone.
That poor teenage girl.
I would imagine that they will develop their own healthy, competitive natures, as well, which will aid in the expansion of their friendship. Jrue displays some inclinations already by doing things that I request on behalf of Jai, just because it would please me. Jai reciprocates by giving Jrue hugs because mommy hugged Jrue. We will have game nights and extracurricular activities and home tournaments that, I’m sure, will bring out the biggest in contest, much like if on an international athletic stage. “Wade and James have been great together. They’ve been great apart. Like it or not, their friendship surpasses their competitive natures, fiery as those are.” (Aschburner, 2016)
I like that for my children.
Of course, there’s a fine line to battle. If I find that they are constantly at one another’s throats, as is likely to be sometimes through particular life phases, I plan several behavior-correction tactics, like the get-along shirt. They’ll love that.
There are no foes in this house. If there are problems, take it to the court.
Aschburner, Steve. “Dwyane Wade reflects on relationship with LeBron James.” NBA.com, Oct. 14, 2016, http://www.nba.com/article/2016/10/13/longtime-friends-wade-james-meet-again#/. Accessed Dec. 13, 2017.