I am a person of rather simple pleasures. Easily impressed. I’m just as intrigued by some one that can juggle as I am one who has 5 doctorates. There is little in life that gives me more joy right now that simply witnessing the interaction between my two sons. This can range from the most endearing, softest, loving cheek kisses to fits of absolute rage that an 8 month old would ever dare to grasp a Thomas the Tank Engine that has been left in the floor.
Seriously, Charlie, you should know better.
But, he doesn’t. Charlie’s entire worldview right now consists of one enduring quest: how, oh how, does one like myself get THAT into my mouth? An objective observer might see Jack’s singular goal as being how to simply and continually thwart Charlie. To hear Jack, in his own words though, would be to understand the exact nature of his continuing missions.
A good deal of Jack’s motivation now exists in absolutes. Charlie shouldn’t touch his trains because “he cannot”. We will get pizza for lunch because “we must”. The giant Thomas toy at Toys R Us is an easy “we have to”. Altruism or the greater good doesn’t really cram into Jack’s ethos right now. A lot of what he does closely resembles to how I spent most of my 20s. We both ran under the huge, sloppily painted and misspelled banner of “Because I Wanna”. It got me, rather successfully, into my thirties, so let’s see how long Jack wants to ride this train.
Their daily fencing matches have gotten to the point where I can entirely picture what is going on from the other room, which is good since that’s where I do most of my shameful, need a quick boost of energy ice cream eating. Charlie will begin to encroach on Jack’s territory, which will solicit a warning from Jack. I think that is very diplomatic of him. He doesn’t just preemptively strike. No, he waits for Charlie to make the move so that his disproportionate attack can be factored under having been provoked. Leaders of the world could take a note or two from my four year old. Once Charlie has moved in there is usually a dissatisfied screech from the elder brother. This is a warning akin to a reptile changing his color. At this point, I might interject and ask Jack to get Charlie something that he can play with. Jack, I can only imagine, gives me an eye roll and says “Okay” but as sarcastically as my head allows him to be. At this point we are either sipping cocktails at a the successful signing of a peace treaty OR Charlie has declared total war and now has a large piece of the Island of Sodor railway in his mouth.
I am, of course, exaggerating a bit. In the last few weeks especially, Charlie’s motivations have taken on an entirely new facet of exploration. Beyond simply putting things in his mouth, Charlie seems on a quest. I call this The Quest of The Endless Smile. Charlie likes to be happy and he’s looking for ways in which to accomplish that. A lot of that DOES involve putting things in his mouth. Some of it involves tearing an intricately placed train track apart. Some of it takes the shape of scraping a piece of plastic across the floor so that it makes a noise that gets to dogs across the street to start howling. Some of it involves climbing on his brother’s lap. Some it involves stealing both me and Jack’s glasses. Some of it, though, seems to involve just looking. Just looking at me and at his brother with a sense of sheer wonder.
As I said earlier, a great amount of my joy right now comes from witnessing the two of them interacting and the shapes that it is endlessly taking. I’ve seen, in such a small amount of time, Jack go from a hurt child that was used to getting all the attention that I could give him into the big brother that he is now. I’ve gone from worrying whether Jack would suffocate Charlie while he napped, to giving the two of them baths and trusting Jack to wash his brother’s back and face. So, it would seem that the two of them are brothers. Much as I was to my brother. A consistent struggle of wills, with a decent mix of brotherhood, jealousy, happiness, betrayal and absolute bliss at the simple knowledge that you are around some one that knows you so well. Brotherhood is something I know a little bit about.
My brother’s name is Daniel Michael Ricciardella. He is three years younger than me. He will be Mickey to me for the rest of my, and his life. I love my brother more than words can say. I can, at any moment, think back and recall moments in which the two of us changed the trajectory of the other’s life. Both for good and for bad, but it doesn’t matter. I know that I am who I am because of his existence. I know that he is who he is because of mine. That we are both a collection of the experience that have shaped both of our lives and that because we are simply in each other’s life we are both better for it. I remember Batman and Robin pajamas. I remember jealousy that he had a girlfriend before I did. I remember telling him to leave the room because I was drawing. I remember laughing hysterically watching Tommy Boy with him. I remember him hugging me at my wedding. I remember hugging him at his. I can remember almost every single time that I told him, in my sobriety, that I loved him.
More than anything, still, I want my brother to be happy. I want my kids to be happy. I think that I’m starting to see that same want in Jack. It’s there when Charlie starts to cry and he tries to figure out why. It’s there when Charlie is doing something that Jack might consider a bad behavior and he attempts to scold Charlie for it.
Jack loves Charlie because he does, but he doesn’t know why. Charlies loves Jack because he does, and he doesn’t understand that there is a why. I love both of them, and I don’t care why. I love my brother, Mickey, and I know exactly why.
Thanks for listening and we well.