I haven’t yet figured out the rhyme or reason for when the Gort and the Hen get along, and when they don’t. Some days they wake up and, from the minute they cross paths, blood-curdling screams fill the air. And some days they figure out a way to peaceably co-exist. At least for fifteen minutes at a time.
On the good days they can be found chasing each other around the house. Wrestling together. Making ‘custard pies’ in the bathtub. Which, as far as I can tell, involves filling vessels of varying sizes with vast amounts of bubbles. And dumping the bubbles on the floor.
It’s I Love Lucy-esque, really.
On the bad days they’re like two aggressive dogs who need to be pulled apart every three minutes. Time passes in a horrendous cycle: brief period of silence, intense wailing from one or both parties, tattling (he hit me, he took my [blank], he’s bugging me, he’s not leaving me alone, he’s not sharing), revenge (more hitting, swiping, tackling, spitting, stealing away of toys), time-out slash punishment, wailing about time-out slash punishment, insincere apology, brief period of silence. Repeat.
A bad day feels like Groundhog’s Day. On crack.
Like yesterday, after our Costco run. When they nearly ripped off one another’s arms and dehydrated themselves from their excessive shedding of tears. Over an empty cardboard box. The Gort had taken possession of an empty Gatorade box. For a ‘boat’. And, seeing his brother’s genius invention, the Hen wanted to get in the boat. Without the captain. Fisticuffs ensued. Eardrums were ruptured (mine). Until, ultimately, the boat was too flat to ‘float’.
This from the same two people who’d summoned me to their chamber at 4am for drinks and who can remember what else. The Gort took the opportunity to ask ‘can we have tomato soup for lunch? Because that’s my favorite.’ Stunned, I managed to utter ‘sure…but it’s four o’clock in the morning and lunch isn’t for a very long time.’ As I stumbled back to my room, I could hear the Gort say companionably to his younger brother: ‘do you want tomato soup for lunch?’ ‘Yeth’ the Hen replied.
Quite the pair.
Like on Friday. When I checked on them after breakfast, they were playing together in the basement. Happily. Cars were lined up. They were sharing. I took a picture. It was like the infamous Arafat-Netanyahu photo ops of yore. I just couldn’t believe they were sitting side by side. And not fighting. They moseyed up to the kitchen a while later, dragging behind them a toy bucket filled with various treasures. A Dr Seuss book, among other things. And they sat down on the floor. Together. And ‘read’.
It was ridiculously cute.
The Gort was milking his older brother role for all its worth; speaking to the Hen in hushed, measured tones tinged with a hint of condescension. Sort of like a teacher might talk to an especially dumb student. As I watched them sitting side by side, looking at a book together, my heart filled with pride. I infiltrated their little semi-circle, hugging their collective sweetness. Lingering perhaps a little too long.
‘Goway Mommy,’ the Hen said as he glanced up at me absentmindedly. Lest I didn’t ‘get it’, his older brother turned to me: ‘he wants you to go away.’
Oh, is that what he meant.
That afternoon, the Hen and I picked up our Kindergartener from school. ‘Your brother really missed you today,’ I told the Gort. Which was possibly true, or possibly not. He had asked ‘whe Gaga’ once or twice and he had seemed excited to get in the car for pick-up. But that could be because he just wanted to get out of the house. Either way, it doesn’t hurt either of them if I embellish a bit.
‘Awww, did you miss me?’ the Gort asked his brother as he buckled his seat.
‘Noooooooo’ the Hen replied.
‘That means no,’ I was tempted to tell my oldest.