When I found out I was having another boy I envisioned Porter and his little brother becoming the best of friends. I imagined when they were old enough to play together that they’d spend hours entertaining each other and I’d have a little peace and quiet to myself.
That’s the fairytale balloon popping right there, folks.
My boys, oh my, my boys. They do NOT seem to get along anymore! It is a 2 way street, though, and they both know how to push each other’s buttons. Porter does things to piss Hudson off and Hudson knows exactly how to be the annoying little brother. They taunt each other and are constantly screaming and hitting each other.
The other day I let them go outside to play and as I was picking up the house I realized all I’d been hearing outside was screaming and yelling and fighting. And I realized that that’s all I EVER hear from them when they are together. I never hear laughter coming from my yard. I never hear them giggling and enjoying each other. And it made me so sad.
A lot of people tell me “Oh that’s just brother’s for you… they’ll grow out of it” or “That’s how they’re supposed to be”. Well, that’s not how I want my kids, these brothers, to be.
I brought up their behavior in therapy last week and Dot’s advice really made sense. She said that Porter has clearly written Hudson off as “useless” to him and that he “has no use for him.” I mentioned how my sister and I fought a lot as kids and she said that most often sisters will grow back together and rebuild a relationship, but brothers often grow up and move apart and stay out of each others lives if they don’t form a close relationship as kids. This made sense to me…. men aren’t necessarily the “relationship builders” in a family… typically its the women (mothers, sisters, daughters) that keep family relationships together. She said that, much like potty training, I needed to really stay attentive to the boys and help them build their skills for dealing with each other. And so this is what I’ve been doing.
As summer started I stressed to the boys that they are FRIENDS and that they need to treat each other as friends. I told them that until they learned to treat one another as friends they wouldn’t be seeing their other friends for playdates…. that the only friend they would have to play with this summer would be each other unless they learned to get along. I’ve been literally sitting right by them as they play, guiding and directing their actions and words towards each other.
When we built the cardboard house? Oh boy… that was a huge fight. Porter wanted it dark inside and wanted the door shut. Hudson wanted the door open and to have some light inside. Fight. Fight. Fight. Porter locked Hudson out. Hudson screamed (we’ve been working on him not reacting to things with a screeching scream and using an inside voice). I calmed them both down and we brainstormed some ideas. We decided to put a doorbel on the door and I had to literally model how they should ring the doorbell, how Hudson should knock and say “knock knock”, how Porter should say “Who is it?” and how Hudson should wait for Porter to open the door. And then I praised and praised.
I am so not kidding. This has been my summer thus far. Slow and gradual modeling and skill building and teaching and praising and stepping in to help them make better choices for dealing with each other.
At first I felt like it wasn’t doing any good. But the past 2 days I’ve noticed SO many instances where Porter uses NICE words towards Hudson, asks him things instead of demanding, and Hudson complies and they use manners and I PRAISE them to high heavens for how kind and caring they are to each other. And they just light up!
Today I am so happy to say they played so well together. They LAUGHED together! They were in the gator and driving it into the trees Ryan had chopped down and they were laughing so hard. I’ve found them at nap time in the guest room… they sneak in there and read books together.
It is music to my ears to slowly, but surely, begin to hear my boys laugh together. A sight for sore eyes when I see them being kind and compassionate to each other and playing with each other.
I know there is still so much more skill building to do, that there is going to be regression and days where they don’t get along. But, slowly but surely they are grasping those skills and tools to treat each other in a more loving way. I’m really excited to go to my next therapy appointment and report the changes I’ve seen thus far.