February 24th, 2011

A friend was telling me the other day about a couple with three very young children, all under the age of six. I shook my head. “That’s just crazy,” I said. Then I remembered that my life was once exactly that amount of crazy. My youngest was born when my first two had just turned five and three. What were we thinking? There was a time I had two children in diapers–cloth diapers, the old-fashioned kind with pins. It’s all kind of a blur.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Patrick and I marvel at how close our boys are to each other. Last weekend, our 12 year-old was away on a Scout camp-out, leaving the 10- and 6-year-old at home with us. It’s alway interesting to watch how the dynamic shifts when the trio is split. With the eldest out of the picture, our middle child gets to be the leader, and the youngest (who loves his position as the baby) steps up accordingly and acts less babyish. They had a good time together, and our scout had a great time camping, but when the three amigos were reunited on Sunday afternoon, the sheer boy-sterousness of their joy threatened to take the roof off. The totality of their fraternity is truly greater (and a great deal louder) than the sum of its parts.

Patrick and I grew up with one sibling each. His brother is four years older than he; my sister is nearly four years my junior. We love them a lot, but we don’t remember anything like the kinship our sons seem to have. The unhappiest I’ve ever seen any of the boys is when that harmony is disrupted, when they are on the outs. And they are never happier than when banded together in play or work. We have a strong marriage, that I expect will endure and evolve beyond our kids’ childhood, but here in the midst of it, it sometimes feels as if is their bond that is the organizing principle in our family–they, the nuclear force, and we, the orbiting electrons.

No Responses to “Cahoots”

  1. Bev says:

    Our daughters kids are close like yours, two boys and a girl ages 11, 9, & 7. They are the light of our lives because they are so much fun to be with and that is primarily due to the loving relationship they have with each other.

  2. Mmm, me too. One sister 4 years away, then 3 kids in 5 years. There is a particular kind of joy in that little band…

  3. Amy B. says:

    I dunno — I kind of disagree. I think you and Patrick are most certainly the nucleus. You rule, but you do it well, in a benevolent dictator/beloved monarch sort of way. Your combined strength means the boys are definitely orbiting you, but they do so by choice, because it feels good, not because they’re forced. There is no outside force that yanks at them, begging them to break free from your pull. Your existing bond is too strong. That’s what will keep you together as a happy nuclear family for many years to come.

    (And I’m sorry I called you a nuclear family. That’s a little creepy. But really, it fits.)

  4. Jennifer says:

    My children are still little: 8 months (in cloth diapers, with snaps, not pins) and almost 3. When I see them play together, it just melts my heart. I can easily see how they are becoming the nucleus to our family. My husband and I completely revolve around them. It is such a wonderful feeling.

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