Our boys are 19 months apart. They get asked constantly if they’re twins, and if I’m honest, we’ve probably raised them as such. They share clothes and a room and the same silly jokes. I have intentionally brainwashed them into believing that they are each other’s best friend. Seriously – their room is decorated with “Best Buddies”-themed picture frames and a collage of the two of them together. At random times, my husband and I ask them to point to their best friend, and they always adorably point to each other.
They are not allowed to argue. Certainly, they have their annoying spats, but it always comes back to the same lecture: That’s your brother. He’s your best friend. He always will be. Anything other than best friendship simply isn’t an option.
Which is why it came as such a surprise that of all people who could sabotage this relationship that I’ve spent so much time building, it would be me.
Yes, me. Their own mother. I certainly didn’t intend to and was ashamed when I realized it, but I have been ruining their friendship. Ironically, it took a movie to hold a mirror up to my parenting. And no, we’re not talking about some cerebral film that challenges your lifestyle. It was the Captain Underpants movie. That movie and those books represent the absolute banality of childhood humor. It’s obnoxious and ridiculous, and that’s exactly what they’re going for. And it was exactly what I try to avoid in my sons’ behavior.
Everything that gets them going is so stupid. And LOUD! Why does everything have to be SO. LOUD?! They can bicker about Legos, but man, can they crack each other up with a really dumb joke, usually featuring the word “butt.” And I have been bound and determined to put that nonsense to a stop. I planned to simply opt out of the obnoxious behavior. And for the most part, I’ve been successful in avoiding it. Until that ridiculous movie.
When I saw the precious friendship of the two main characters in the movie, I found myself telling my boys, “Y’all could do that! You could work together on something fun and silly like those two best friends.” But then I quickly realized that they hadn’t. Ever. And it was all my fault. I had never allowed them the freedom to be that silly or–ugh–obnoxious.
I think the hangup has been the context. If we’re out at a restaurant, then no. This is neither the time nor the place for that sort of nonsense. If their sisters were sleeping, then certainly not. If we’re doing homework, it needs to stop. Nope, it’s time to eat supper and talk about our day. Then when could they act goofy and ridiculous? Honestly, I don’t claim to have the exact answer to that yet. I know being outside or in their room with the door closed would help.
But I do know that when I think back on so many precious childhood memories featuring my best friend, it was all ridiculous, too. Pretend ponies and acting out The Lion King and belting our favorite tunes at the tops of our lungs. All of it was obnoxious and loud. (To be fair, much of it was done outside.) But that was the stuff that I remember most vividly. That was the stuff that made up our friendships. And I don’t want to rob my boys of the opportunity to have that good stuff.
Now I’ll admit that I’m not ready for the noise just yet. Certainly we need some stipulations about context still. But I will admit that I’m ready to allow some more silliness … for posterity’s sake.