Being a brother is hard. It is hard in the best of circumstances. Having to share is hard…share toys, share attention, share activities. I never fully understood the complexity of a brother/brother relationship until we adopted Tyler. You see, my brother only had sisters. Rusty only had sisters. The relationship between a brother and sister is an entirely different beast than the one that grows between two boys. There is a physicality that I am unfamiliar with and a bit uncomfortable with. The rolling and wrestling is something I never saw with my own brother or saw with Rusty and the girls. The intense competitiveness and love/hate relationship is all new to me as a parent two little boys. I am still learning to navigate these uncharted waters.
The relationship between brothers becomes even more complicated when you take two wounded souls, with their own stories, own pasts, own birth families and try to meld them together into a new adoptive family. The results are sometimes touching but often they are just explosive. Ozzie and Tyler are still learning how to be brothers and go from being best buddies to mortal enemies with a single look.
They are both vying for dominance. Ozzie is older therefore feels he has earned his place as alpha dog. Tyler, who has been part of our family longer, feels like he has earned his spot as top dog. The battle continues, the war wages, and I hold my breath, uncomfortable with the display, and yet recognizing that this is all part of bonding as brothers.
Wednesday was a big night for the boys. Tyler joined cub scouts. This will be the first extracurricular activity they have shared as brothers. I could tell Ozzie was struggling with mixed emotions…resentment over sharing this part of his life with Tyler as well as excitement at the thought of being able to be big brother and show Tyler the ropes.
Tyler was also feeling mixed emotions on Wednesday night. He was excited to have his first cubs meeting ( he was ready hours before it was time to go, dressed in his new uniform with his cub book in hand) but also nervous about what to expect.
As we drove to the meeting Tyler expressed, in a rare display of vulnerability, his nervousness. Ozzie, eager to play big brother and Tyler allowing him to step up as big brother, promised to walk him to the meeting and show him what to do. My heart melted as I listened to Ozzie reassure Tyler. Well, you can just imagine the hurt that then followed when upon arriving at church Ozzie jumped from the car and raced toward the building without backward glance. Tyler was visibly hurt and shouted at Ozzie, with venom in his voice, “Ozzie, I guess you don’t care about the cub scout motto!”
I thought for a moment, racking my brain, trying to remember the cub scout motto that Tyler and I had been studying and tried to figure out what Tyler was implying.
“Be Prepared?”…hmmm…no that was Rusty’s Boy Scout motto.
Oh yeah, “Do Your Best.” That was it.
I was trying to figure out what message Tyler was trying to convey when he yelled to Ozzie, “Remember the cub scout motto!” because as far as I could tell Ozzie was “doing his best,”
to get away from Tyler, that is. 🙂
I looked at Tyler and asked what he meant. I didn’t have to wait long for clarification. As Ozzie ran into the church Tyler shouted the motto (as he remembered it) at Ozzie’s retreating back,
“Cub scouts never leave anyone behind!”
I think he was thinking of the Soldier’s Creed but I didn’t have the heart to correct him. 🙂
As I ponder this hard road of adoption perhaps the values called forth in the Soldier’s Creed aren’t too far off the mark.
Perhaps, as a family, we need to embrace some of these values in the battles we face every day,
as we fight for these little boys’ hearts and unity as a new family…
“I am a warrior and a member of a team.”
“I always place the mission first.”
“I will never accept defeat.”
“I will never quit.”
and of course, the most important promise of all,
“I will never leave a fallen comrade.”
We are a family
“Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten” 🙂