Brothers fight – all the time. It’s like death, taxes and your sketchy friend leaving too little tip for the server. That part of raising two boys hasn’t caught me off guard. What we’re dealing with now is how to stop Elijah from melting down when his two-year-old brother Benj hits him.
Elijah has a heart that’s three sizes bigger than even the Grinch’s on that magical Christmas morn. My son shares without incident, gives hugs unconditionally and is always thinking of his little brother. When I take Elijah to buy a movie at the DVD store, my way of stealing one-on-one time with him, he always tells me we should buy something for Benj, too.
The flip side of his bigger than big heart is how personally he takes Benj’s body blows. Whenever the boys disagree and things get physical it’s Elijah whose cries rattles the windows. There’s the initial pain, admittedly something significant given the Hulk-like strength Benj possesses. The cries don’t end there. Elijah is hurt, deeply, that his brother would strike him in the first place. I can see the disbelief in his puffy face.
I could blow off these incidents if I didn’t hear similar stories happening at Elijah’s schools. Last year, he told us his friends were calling him a crybaby, and it’s hard not to paint a pretty accurate picture of that scene.
I’m pretty sure Elijah is taking after his old man.
My cries were commonplace in our household growing up. My Dad put it best – I cried “at the drop of a hat.” Never knew what that saying meant, but I instinctively understood it to be true. I suppose I was sensitive, too, but I always screwed up enough courage to keep from tearing up at school or with my pals on weekends.
Elijah may learn the same soon enough. I’ve tried telling him that Benj doesn’t mean to be cruel, it’s just how a toddler who can’t process his feelings acts. The trick for me as his Dad is to nurture Elijah’s soulful side without letting his peers turn something wonderful into a source of mockery.