Because Brothers are Forever

It’s always unexpected the first time your child says he doesn’t love you.

“Well, I don’t love you anymore!” Big Brother yelled from the place he’d collapsed on the floor in protest. He was three years old, and crying his little eyes out. I don’t remember what my “crime” was. Possibly I’d told him he wasn’t allowed another cookie. You know, something extreme like that.

So I just nodded. “Okay,” I said.

His tears stopped. He looked up at me. “Really?”

“Yep,” I said. “If you don’t love me, there’s nothing I can do about it. It does make me feel sad, but whether you love me or not, I will always love you.” And then I turned around and started tidying the room.

Inside, I was a lot less calm. I was desperately trying to hold it together — to remind myself that he didn’t mean it. It’s not that he didn’t know what love was (he’s always been able to explain it better than I ever could!). But it was just a way to try to get his own way. Just like when he went through that phase of banging his head on the floor. When that happened, I ignored it and refused to acknowledge his behaviour affected me at all. He stopped eight (long) days later.

I was determined the “I don’t love you” thing would be no different.

So I tidied the room as though I was completely unconcerned by what he’d said.

Less than three minutes later, an arm snaked around my leg and a tear-stained face looked up at me. “I’m sorry, Mummy. I really do love you. I love you so much.” And then he started to cry again, but this time the sobs were heart-breaking.

I crouched down and wrapped my arms around him. “Thank you, Sweetheart. I love you, too.”

It’s been a couple of years. Every now and then, Big Brother gives it another try. But yesterday there was a new incarnation.

“Mummy,” Big Brother said from the back seat of the car. “I really love Little Brother. And I love Daddy.”

“That’s lovely,” I said. With a smile, I added, “What about me?”

He considered a minute and then said, “I do love you… But not as much as I love Little Brother.”

And, you know what? I’m okay with that.

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11 Comments

Filed under Life With Kids

11 responses to “Because Brothers are Forever

  1. I think you should write a parenting book. I feel I learn ways to deal with my son from this blog–more so than from the parenting books that make me crazy.

  2. Lovely; but wait until they are teenagers and they gang up on you. That really hurts too. 🙂

  3. My heart breaks at those words, even when I know that deep down boys LOVE their mommies forever. Oh Jo, I’m struggling daily with Noah being 13. He can be so awful and when I get upset it makes me so sad because I love him so much.

    • Oh, Kim. I just want to give you a hug. (One day I swear I’m going to swim across the ocean and do that very thing!) He knows you love him. He just has weird boys germs racing around his body making him awful right now. It will get better. For both you and Glass Boy.

      Have you read the picture book Zagazoo by Quentin Blake? It’s supposedly a children’s book, but it’s really for adults. And really for parents of boys. If you haven’t ever read it, have a look at the library next time you’re there and check it out. You might find it helpful.

      (I have a copy at home that I pull out whenever Big Brother does something that makes me wonder why I signed up for this whole parenting thing in the first place.)

  4. Robbie Eberhardt

    I think it’s wonderful that my boys love each other so much. I was just eating and Little Brother toddled over and demanded some of my food. I gave him some. Then some more when he’d eaten it and wanted more. Then, when Big Brother came over, Little Brother asked for more food but instead of shoving it his mouth as he had twice before he took it and gave it to his big brother and then came back for some for himself. And Big Brother rewarded him with a kiss and a hug and they ate together.

    There will come a day when Big and Little Brothers don’t want to be like me as a friend or a sport star or a movie hero becomes more important of a role model for them to emulate, and I’ll be sad, but the thing that will make me cheer back up is that no matter how old they get, no matter how socially awkward it might be for a teenager or a young man to say “I love you.” to their brother (or their dad!) you are never, ever, ever too old to tell your mum that you love them. And when Jo lights up at an unexpected show of love from kids who have become “too old” or “too cool” to display that love and affection as often as they used to when they were small children and it didn’t matter to them to do or say it I will also light up.

    Because Jo is totally worth it. 🙂

  5. My poor wife would be heartbroken by a statement like that. 😦 For that matter, so would I…

    • It is heartbreaking. Every time. But there are very few kids who don’t throw it around at some stage. (Although some kids apparently wait until they’re teenagers…)
      The hard thing is that if you show an emotional reaction, it becomes part of their regular arsenal.

      This parenting stuff is hard.

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