My two boys, Asa and Jake are 8 years apart in age. They have a “Love – Hate” relationship. I think they do love each other, but when they are together they often don’t get along. In fact, my oldest is now in Montana living with his dad. He told me that one of the reasons he is living there instead of here is that he and Jake don’t get along well and he doesn’t want to put that stress on me. I appreciate that – as their being in close proximity can be extremely stressful for me. When they were younger, I could send them each to their rooms. As they’ve gotten older, I have had to step in between them in order to stop physical confrontations. They are both bigger than me and there is the possibility that I could get hurt, but when you are mom you just do it. If we are all sitting on the same couch, I have to sit in the middle. It’s a little annoying.
One of the problems is that they are very much alike – and not in good ways. They both have ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. They also both have learning disabilities. They often view the world differently than most people – their reality is their own – and sometimes it is hard for me to figure out what their reality is, so that I can handle whatever is going on so that it is meaningful for them. You cannot convince Asa that he is wrong, if it is something he views as being true in his reality. I give up arguing and let him be wrong – it’s not worth the fight.
I have been divorced for about 12 years and have not had any serious relationship in that time. My ex-husband was in jail and had no contact with the kids for many years and then just sporadically after that – summer camping trips and family get-togethers. While my two older children have memories of having a father at home, Jake does not. He has not had a father figure around on a regular basis. The only male role model he has had is his brother.
It is no surprise then, that Jake has some similar traits, likes and dislikes that Asa has. Jake loves rap music – because Asa listened to it. Jake started playing soccer last year – because Asa played soccer. Jake watches anime shows because Asa watches anime shows. Jake likes to try hot spicy food because Asa likes hot spicy food. Jake learned to ride a skateboard because Asa rode a skateboard. Jake often thinks that he is just like Asa because they are brothers – that he will inevitably be and do whatever Asa is and does.
When Jake is non-compliant at school and refuses to do work, he says he is “lazy” just like Asa (unfortunately Asa does have a reputation for being lazy). Jake is proud to be lazy – just like his brother. Recently, Jake said that he will probably end up being homeless after high school – just like Asa – because they are brothers. (Asa was homeless for a couple weeks – literally sleeping outdoors – when he made a poor decision – one of those that I could not convince him of otherwise, because his reality was beyond what I could get through). I have to remind Jake that he is not his brother, but I do not know if he believes it or not.
Since Asa has not been living with us regularly, it is interesting when we do get together to see how the boys relate. There is always the fight over the dog. Who does Buddy love the most? I had to make a written declaration that Buddy is the “Family” dog (I even posted it on the kitchen wall for awhile). Asa will take Jake out to kick the soccer ball – something they both enjoy and that Asa is still better at. I noticed that Asa still sees Jake as a little kid that is easily thrilled with him and his abilities – but I also noticed that Jake is growing beyond that. Jake is starting to become his own person, little by little.
Sometimes people will comment that Jake sounds or acts like Asa – especially if he is relaxed and doing something he enjoys, like playing video games. I guess it is only natural to pick up characteristics of those that you love. The boys would never admit that they love each other, but I know that if push came to shove, they would have each other’s backs. For a minute or two anyway.