When brothers fight

I’m frightened. I’m frightened of my job as a mother and afraid that I’m going to blow it with my boys.

Last night we had a set of brothers over to play Settlers with Harrison. Up to this point Rex hasn’t learned Setttlers–partially because he’s only nine but mostly because he’s Rex–so just Harry sat down to play with these boys. I noticed about 20 minutes in that Rex was really wanting to be included so I asked the kids if they would invite him to play on a team and help him learn.

“No!” Harrison said.

I was appalled. The other set of brothers were surprised. They of course agreed and happily invited Rex to play.

Rex didn’t play, he instead spent the game being rude to Harrison and bugging Harrison and causing issues with Harrison.

After I put the girls to bed I had a sit down with the boys to find out what in the heck is going on in my family that I haven’t paid enough attention to. What I heard really upset me.

Harrison said he didn’t want Rex there because Rex was bugging him so much. Newsflash: Everything about Rex bugs Harrison all the time. Then Rex said the reason he was acting rude and teasing Harrison (putting a hair brush on his chair when he was gone as a prank) was because he wanted Harrison to leave so he could be friends with the boys and he could sit and play the game.

I sat and listened and what I really saw were two boys–my two boys–who have grown so far apart in the past year that they can’t even socialize politely with each other. More than that. They don’t like each other anymore, at all. It’s not news, it’s been happening for over a year and it’s graffitied all over the walls of my heart.

I know that Rex is different, like tip of the Spectrum different, but you would think that kind of information would make Harrison more understanding and more open to helping his brother in social situations. Harrison doesn’t come across as the impatient, embarrassed type but when it comes to his brother he is beyond impatient. The sad thing is that his friends haven’t minded Rex’s quirky ways (okay, some of his friends).

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this dynamic, maybe it’s just the first time I sat down and dissected it and didn’t pretend like it’s just a phase.

I feel like it’s ruining my family. I feel like it’s out of my hands. I feel like there’s nothing I can do to change a heart but pray and skip meals and try to impose more family game nights where the boys can work together as a team or something. Even that feels like I’m grasping at straws. Oh, give me potty training and pillow forts to clean up again, I don’t want to do this part.

I just want my boys to love each other. I don’t want Rex to grow up envying Harrison his friends and his sports and I don’t want Harrison to grow up trying to pretend that he doesn’t have a brother. I know they’re just kids but these years are important. Boys aren’t like girls. My sister that hated me grew out of it when she went to college and now we talk on the phone constantly, she’s my best friend.

Boys don’t talk on the phone all the time when they grow up.

I don’t need them to be best friends. I do need them to respect each other and I would really like to see a little compassion around here. I feel extremely alone these days, single parenting is the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. I’ve only got about two and a half weeks left…it feels like an eternity. I have so much respect for women who are going through this parenting gig alone, it takes a certain kind of strength and fortification and I think mine is about run out.