Monday, March 5, 2012

The big boy and the baby brother

I've mentioned before that our oldest son, Josh, is fond of TV. He's so fond, we've implemented strict TV routines. The television is totally banned from Monday to Thursday. Josh can earn Friday TV by doing his homework throughout the school week, and on Saturdays and Sundays, he can watch a couple of hours max.

On Sunday, Jenn was working all day, so I was balancing the demands of all three boys. Josh was nagging me to let him watch a movie, but I made a deal. I told him he had to do family stuff first (a trip to the playground) and then he could watch TV during Colin's nap.

After lunch, Colin was contentedly playing with a baseball bat and ball when Josh decided enough was enough. He grabbed the ball and said, "Colin, do you want the ball? Do you want the ball, Colin? Come on, baby. Come get the ball."

I was still cleaning up dishes from lunch, so I allowed Josh to lure his baby brother upstairs. After five minutes, I decided to check on them. While walking up the stairs, I could hear Josh singing: "Baby, baby, come with me, let's learn our ABCs. A, B, C, D, E, F G ..." I turned the corner into Colin's room and found the scene pictured above, with Josh "rocking" Colin to sleep. Colin's face held a mixture of fascination and terror.

I thanked Josh and took over from there. After 176 books, Colin went down for his nap. Josh turned on his movie. Matthew and I sat in the dining room to play Monopoly (yes, a kindergartner crushed me in Monopoly, bankrupting me in about 20 minutes, so much for business school ... ).

When Josh's movie ended, he pounded over to our Monopoly game (it was round #2 and Matthew was once again dominating), he tried to play banker, but he got bored. After making 16 trips into the pantry and refrigerator for snacks, Josh disappeared upstairs. I thought he had gone to his room, but then I heard heavy footsteps on the stairs. I looked up to see Colin's body, held like a sack of potatoes, carried step by step down the stairs and deposited in the front foyer. Josh had woken him up, dragged him out of the crib and carried him down.

Colin looked bewildered, but he wasn't crying. I paused for a moment, torn between anger (I wanted to scream at Josh) and amusement (the two of them were so cute together). I calmly asked Josh if he remembered how I felt the last time he did this, when he woke up Colin an hour early. "I checked the clock and it was time for him to get up," Josh said.

He was right. It was close to time for Colin to get up. So Matthew went back to world domination in Monopoly, I went back to forking over millions in rent payments to my 5-year-old, and Josh took Colin into the kitchen to give him some snacks.

It's kind of nice to have a little helper around the house, but I can't give Josh too much credit. After all, his actions are entirely self-motivated. He lured Colin to sleep because he wanted to watch TV, and he dragged him out of the crib because he was bored. Colin is basically a plaything for his older brother. But at least he's a protected plaything. Despite his enormous strength and brute will, Josh is gentle with his baby brother. So we've got that going for us.

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