Friday, January 23, 2015

Brother Buddies

Two weeks, we had another great little Seth moment.  The kids and I were relaxing at the kitchen table, having a snack.  Somehow, the topic of love came up and I might have noted, very very casually, to Seth that maybe the time had come where he would be able to tell Matthew that he loved him.

Side note:  About 18-20 months ago, in our dramatic weekend of Seth telling us that he loved us for the first time, Seth did tell Matthew that he loved him.  But not since then.  Matthew tells Seth every day that he loves him with his whole heart, and Seth typically answers with either "yup" or "thank you."

It was a bit risky on my part, to suggest that the time had come for a verbal declaration, but the boys have been getting closer and closer over the past few months and it's become very clear to me that Seth adores Matthew in that stoic, unspoken, loyal way he has towards those he holds in his tight inner circle...they generally just get along really well, and understand each other incredibly well!

Demonstrating how far he's come these last number of months, Seth's response to my suggestion was to look at me and panicking, no horror...just laughter.  Then his eyes began to twinkle with his developing sense of humour and he deflected my suggestion by stating that he didn't think that it would be possible for Matthew to tell Lizzie that he loved her.  (Matt and Lizzie have been going through a rough patch.)

Challenge on.

I could see the war raging in Matthew's eyes!  He really, really did not want to tell Lizzie that he loved her at this season in their relationship; but the possibility that Seth would verbalize his feelings towards him was just too great an opportunity to be missed.  I could see Matthew reach a decision and, sure enough, he turned to Lizzie and, to her great joy, said loudly and clearly, "Lizzie, I love you!"

Matthew and I both turned to look back at Seth.  No panic, just a sense of fun on his face.  Game on.

Seth, a huge smile on his face, suddenly burst out, in a yell, "I love you Matthew!!!!"  Then he fell to the floor in embarrassment, big guffaws of laughter coming from under the table where he hid.

I thought it was a pretty awesome thing.  His heart defendedness didn't prevent the words this time.  The walls keep tumbling down, is what I thought.

A short time later, I pulled Seth into the office and hugged him and told him how proud I was of him for being able to say the words to Matthew.  He and I have been talking more recently about how we  really don't need to resort to words of love in order for people to know that they are loved, but that it's also true that we sometimes all like to hear the words anyway.  I know he's been stewing on this in relation to Matthew.  Seth hugged me back and told me that it was easier to tell me that he loved me.  Then he looked up at me with a twinkle in his eye and asked if I had some kind of reward for him, for having told Matthew that he loved him.

In the heartbeat before I answered Seth, what went through my head was that we virtually never use rewards or bribes in our home...what next went through my head was that Seth is a boy who truly needs to hear himself saying certain things over and over just to become comfortable with the sound and feel of the words. After he overcame the initial (massive) hurdle of telling me that he loved me, for example, the floodgates opened and he was immediately and entirely at ease about using the words with me.  But for Matthew, this hadn't yet happened and I want, desperately, for Seth to feel the shape of those three magical words on his tongue as directed towards Matthew, for him to grow accustomed to the walls not crashing in on him if he uttered the words in relation to his brother.

Seth never felt me falter.  That heartbeat of contemplation passed and my inner struggle was put to rest and I enthusiastically replied that "of course" I had a reward for him and that I'd been wondering when the appropriate time might be to feed him a delicious and special chocolate cookie that I'd been hanging on to for him.

I went to get the cookie and then hand fed it to Seth in little bits, which he loved.

Smart little dude that he is, Seth approached me later in the day with sparkling eyes to ask if there might be another reward in it for him if he told Matthew the words again.

"Yes," I replied, "I've been thinking the same thing...that the next time you say the words might be the perfect time to enjoy another little treat."

Immediately Seth called Matthew over and told him that he loved him - and even armed with the incentive of an impending reward, it was obvious that this time was easier than the first time.  There was no falling to the floor or covering of the eyes.  No screech of embarrassment.  Nothing.  He just said it.  Straight up, with a direct look into Matthew's astonished eyes.  As soon as the moment passed, I suggested that this might be the perfect time for the boys to watch a little tv together - Seth winked at me, and I winked back.

A few minutes later, as the boys settled on the floor in front of the tv, I heard Matthew telling Seth that he loved him.  "I know," said Seth.  "I love you, too."  Then they turned the channel and watched their show.  As if something very ordinary had just occurred.

Seth continues to astonish me.  Every time I think he's maxed out on his development, another wall seems to come crashing down around his heart and he shocks me again.  He is a happy, vibrant, loving, and pretty contended boy these days...quite a long distance from the rage- and grief- filled little boy who rocked our world just a few short years ago.  Not that long ago, we experienced the freedom and joy of his singing and the greater ability to express the deepest parts of his heart towards his brother.

It's so great to see the love that has grown between these two crazy boys of mine.  They love to do things together and there is little competitiveness between them:  Matthew readily and proudly talks about how Seth is such an amazing runner and so great at sports, and even better than himself; and Seth readily compliments Matthew on amazing art work or his ability to play games, or whatever.  Matthew seems intuitively to know when Seth's language has frustrated his ability to understand something and he quietly jumps in to explain something to Seth; and Seth has begun to initiate activities or ideas or other togetherness-related things with Matthew, which is something that, until not that long ago, was a vulnerability too much for him to bear.

It's very much the kind of relationship I'd always dreamed of for my boys and it's just continuing to grow.  They get restless without each other and wonder grumpily, if they're separated for more than a few minutes, what the other is doing and when he'll be back.  If one receives something that the other has not, the receiver holds back a portion for his brother or makes sure that something's coming also for his brother.  They giggle in their beds at night time and keep each other awake far too long for my comfort.  They build lego projects side by side together, when they're in the mood, and have snowball fights or ping pong matches when they're in different kinds of mood.  They're happy for each other when something goes well, and when something doesn't work out for one, the other says "I hope you feel better soon."  And now, it seems, they are more able than ever before to reciprocate those deep and attachment-entrenched words of love and affection.

What more could a mother want for her boys?

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