They are the best of friends and the worst of enemies.
That’s life these days with our sons, Beckett, 5, and Carson, 3.
For the most part, our sons get along pretty well, but there are moments in every day when they have to be separated before they come to blows and someone or both get hurt. I like to think this is normal for two growing boys just 16 months apart in age.
Much of the discourse has to do with immaturity and over anxious boys who like to push either other’s buttons and have learned by now what irritates the other.
The easiest thing to do is keep them separated, but that’s not always practical. At one point, Pam and I allocated one night a week as kid date nights, where I would take one kid somewhere and she would take the other somewhere. We found our “dates” to be nice until the kids were reunited and they started going after each other.
The fact is they seem to like to pick on each other and that usually resulted in both of them getting in trouble.
For example, while we eat dinner, Carson has been known to get out of his seat and walk over to Beckett’s plate and steal food off it. He knows that’s wrong, but he seems to get a kick out of getting under Beckett’s skin and really enjoys the reaction, which usually involves Beckett screaming at the top of his lungs.
At one point on a recent evening, I heard Beckett yell for me and say something along the lines of, “Daddy, Carson is looking at me, make him stop. He keeps looking at me.”
When I came into his room, sure enough there was Carson standing about three feet away from Beckett just staring at him. He had his hands in his pockets and was just steady looking at Beckett while swaying back and forth. When I questioned what he was doing, he shrugged his shoulders and went on his way with an evil sort of laugh. Maybe I am giving him too much credit, but I think he knew exactly what he was doing and Beckett reacted just as he had hoped.
There is no question Carson likes to bother his big brother and seems to come up with low-profile ways to do it. I came upon him the other day walking around with a book bag full of Beckett’s superhero action figures. I watched as he walked from one room to another. Beckett was distracted and didn’t notice Carson had it on his back. I stayed with Carson to see what exactly he was up to and I eventually observed him trying to empty all the superheroes out of Beckett’s bag into his own school book bag. I stopped him, but was mildly proud of what he was doing in a mischievous sort of way.
One way Carson can really aggravate his brother is with hitting. Carson is the king of the blind side slap these days and has even been known to crack Beckett upside the head with a cup, a toy or a remote control.
Unfortunately, Beckett’s reaction is usually far worse than the proverbial crime itself and usually involves Carson lying flat on his back in a heap of tears. That’s when things get a little testy around the house and phrases like “he hit me first” and “that’s so unfair” abound.
While there are some instances of the little brother intentionally bothering the big brother, most of the kid troubles involve Beckett picking on Carson or him being way too rough with his little brother.
A common scene around the house involves Beckett yanking a toy or a book or whatever away Carson in an attempt to upset him. It always results in Carson throwing a fit. The problem is Beckett doesn’t really care about what Carson is playing with. It’s that same need to get a reaction that Carson has when he tries to stir up his big brother.
For a while, we had this under control by telling Beckett you can never take something away from Carson without giving him something as a trade. Even then, if Carson didn’t want to give up what he was playing with, Beckett would have to let him keep it. That was the deal and it worked well for a bit because almost always Carson would acquiesce and take whatever Beckett gave him in exchange for what he had.
That was until Beckett caught on and started downgrading what he was providing Carson in exchange. For instance, when Carson was playing with a remote control truck on the floor the other night, Beckett walked up to him with a stuffed animal saying, “let’s trade Carson, play with this, it talks to you and is so cool.” Carson did as Beckett asked only to learn the stuffed animal did not talk at all and that his big brother had oversold the trade.
Another new tactic Beckett has learned that we have honed in on is the idea of whispering secrets to Carson. For a week or so, we had been noticing each time Beckett whispered in his ear, Carson would laugh hysterically and do something that resulted in him getting in trouble.
While leaning over and cleaning up something on the floor the other day, I noticed Beckett whisper in Carson’s ear followed by the customary giggle. I figured I would just let them have their fun while I cleaned up the mess one of them made.
That was until Carson came over, smacked my rear-end and ran away laughing. I then heard Beckett say, “nice job, give me a high-five little buddy.”