Apr 5, 2005, 2:21 AM | Journal 3: Brothers Written | Something I Wrote …
Craig learned to open the bathroom door this week. With his chubby, dimpled hands he swatted at the doorknob, making a loud click, bang sound.
He knew the adults worked their magic on these knobs and the door would swing open to reveal a new world. A world he wasn’t allowed to explore yet. He slap-smacked the doorknob again and spoke to it in his garbly-google language. This was something he did daily and it was always a noisy process.
This past Saturday morning was different however. After a few repitions, it got quiet, too quiet. I leaned back in the dining room chair and peeked down the hall, the door was ajar and light showed where shadow should have lounged.
I jumped up and tip-toed to it. Through the space between the door and the jam, I looked at Craig. He had the cupboard under the sink open and quietly, much more so than his eleven-year-old brother would have been, looked at the contents.
I pushed my face through and said, “Peek-a-boo, I see you.”
He shrieked but wasted no time. His hands flew into the cupboard yanking out anything he could grab and he laughed. Oh did he laugh.
Later that morning, Jared woke up and sleepily stumbled over the pressure gate I had in between the bathroom door frame, did his business and then went back to his room.
Craig watched the go-between and stood the whole time as if someone told him to ‘freeze.’ When Jared returned to his room and shut the door, Craig sprang to life. The secret of the door had been revealed and he knew Jared could no longer hide from him.
He pumped his brick-shaped feet into a run and halted at Jared’s room. Slap-smack, click, bang. Craig yelled, in his gobbly-google language, “Jared.” Which sounded suspiciously like Jared in English, just without the j and the d. Slap-smack, click, bang.
“Craig stop it. You can’t come in here!” Craig hadn’t gained entrance yet, but just the sound of his trying got Jared riled up.
“Jared,” Craig yelled again. Slap-smack, click, bang. “Jared.” Then quiet.
Decade of difference
If you froze this moment, stepped back and looked at our house, you’d think wow.
The upper layers — counter tops, high shelves, tables and the entertainment center — were areas of contained chaos. Remote control cars, Bionicles and other Lego parts, anime comics, Harry Potter books, action figures and various hand held computer games littered these out-of-reach-of-Craig areas.
Fire-engine-red, race-car-yellow and grass-green colored blocks were strewn about the lower, carpeted realm. Thick cardboard beginner books were crammed under couch and TV stand, with just the corners poking out. Fisher-Price peek-a-boo blocks were shoved into carnival-loud toys and the non-choking sized plastic balls that belong in them, were thrown over the baby gate in the kitchen.
A decade of difference divided the types of toys in our home. Before Craig was born, I had worried that the same ten years would divide my boys from feeling like brothers too.
I shouldn’t have. The first day Craig was home, I asked Jared, “So what do you think?”
He said, “I feel weird.”
“Yea. I feel like… I really want to wrestle with him. I can’t wait until he’s older.”
I wanted to protect that feeling. While Jared did hold, kiss and snuggle his brother, he was just waiting for the time they could play.
“Craig, I’m getting dressed. You can’t come in here.”
I watched from a distance, Craig had gained access to Jared’s room. Jared scooped him up, plopped him in the hallway and shut the door.
Craig howled like an abandoned wolf cub, stood back up and pounded against the barrier with both fists.
“Mom, make him stop.”
I heard Jared’s muffled voice above the racket. Make him stop? Yea, right. Jared equaled playtime in Craig’s world. From the first day he was home, his older brother dangled toys above him, make goofy faces to elicit smiles, gave him blubbers to get those alternate squeaky squeals and belly laughs.
Sure, his dad and I played with Craig, but we also did things like change diapers, get him fed, dressed and made him go to bed. Jared was pure, undiluted fun. Fun he didn’t have to wait for. Slap-smack, clink, bang. Door opened.
“Mom.” Jared was now dressed in his ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ t-shirt and jeans. “Make him stay out of my room.” He held his little brother, facing forward, by his arm pits. Craig’s shirt was bunched up showing his dot of a belly button. He kicked wildly and laughed. He had his brother’s attention.
Jared pushed him into my arms. Craig protested.
“I got to go to school,” Jared told him.
Craig pointed a finger at him. “Ooo.”
“Yes, school.” He slid around his red backpack. “Oh yea. I got you some crackers from the lunchroom.” Jared pulled out a silver wrapped, cinnamon bear graham cracker and handed it to him.
“Da do,” said Craig. Which, in garbly-google, meant thank you.
Yea, I should have never worried. They play, they argue and they behave just like brothers.