Yesterday, I was sitting on the sofa reading my book when I witnessed a beautiful interaction between my two boys. Baby L. snatched a mini car out of his brother’s hand and pretended to drive it through the air, making loud vroom-vroom sounds. Instead of protesting or grabbing it back, A. stood still, just watching his little brother. Suddenly a smile spread across his face and he shouted, “Mama, he’s making car noises! Listen to him. He knows how to make car sounds!” A. was so delighted by his little brother’s development that he raced upstairs to tell his dad about it. Although I’d heard L.’s car noises many times before, I’ll never forget the look of pride beaming from A.’s face as he stared at his baby brother.
At moments like this, I realize what an incredible gift a sibling is. I always knew I wanted my kids to have at least one sibling, but my reasons were more selfish; I wanted them to have someone to play with so I wouldn’t have to entertain a single child all the time. My plan is only just beginning to work, since the baby now walks and is finally tough enough to be able to ‘play’ with his older brother — which mostly involves getting knocked over repeatedly. I liked the idea of a sibling being an automatic friend for life. No matter what differences may exist eventually between them, hopefully they’d still be there for each other. (Of course that’s idealistic, since many siblings are not friends, but it’s a nice idea.)
What I never expected, though, was for the older brother to feel such intense pride and love for the little one. He refers to him as “my” baby and seems to take even more delight in L.’s achievements than we parents do. Even if what L. is doing isn’t new, A. still notices and shrieks, “Look, he’s standing up! He’s eating! He’s walking!” It’s as if A. sees him with fresh eyes every single day. He also has a paternal instinct to protect the baby that is absolutely endearing, trying to be helpful to the point of aggravation. For example, if he notices that the baby wants to eat, he picks him up by the armpits and attempts to heave him into a chair. It usually ends in a crash and tears, but at least his intentions are noble. Most mornings, he climbs into the baby’s crib and entertains him with silly antics, which buys us a few extra minutes of peace in bed. He makes daily professions of love for his little brother, which always make me think, “All this work of raising kids is totally worth it just to hear that.” I hope they stay best friends forever because that was the point of having two in the first place.