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The bigger they are, the harder they brawl

Submitted by on Thursday, 17 September 2009 No Comment

It was their best imbroglio since the Pizza Man Melee almost a year ago, when they came to blows over imaginary food.

The BaseBrawl began when Big Guy decided to play in the backyard. He can’t throw yet because of his broken wrist, so he grabbed his glove and decided to use an imaginary ball.

He carefully arranged his collection of rocks into bases and strode atop the pitcher’s mound. He wound up, threw and …

Boots jumped and caught the ball between the mound and home plate. Big Guy charged off the mound to wrest the ball from his brother. Boots scampered away just in time, running the base paths and waving the ball in the air.

Big Guy slammed down his glove. “That’s IT! If he’s not going to let the hitter hit the ball, I’m not going to play,” he growled, stomping into the house.

“No, no, no!” Boots begged his brother’s back. “Come back! I won’t catch the ball again!”

Big Guy continued the stomp as Boots dissolved into tears. “He’s mean and evil,” Boots said.

It was the wrong response, but I couldn’t help laughing at them. They’d just fought bitterly over an imaginary ball. It’s a scene that happens more and more often these days, as Boots grows more independent and Big Guy resents it.

This is not the malleable baby of even a few months ago. Boots has his own friends at his own school without Big Guy around to tell him what to do and when to do it. Boots like this.

Big Guy, meanwhile, is a bit lost at sea. He’s in a new school without his friends, and it’s confusing for him. So he defaults to what’s comfortable: Bossing his brother.

Boots doesn’t want to be controlled. Big Guy has to assert control because life is weird right now. Clashes are inevitable.

It’s not as if Boots is always blameless either. He has a way of goading Big Guy into a response, whether it’s by calling him a silly name or playing “repeat after brother” when brother doesn’t want to play. Big Guy usually can’t keep from responding, though he’d getting a bit better.

And most of the time, I’m clueless as to what to do. If the brawl breaks out when I’m around, I usually try to get them to negotiate an agreement. If a dus- up starts when I’m out of sight – the more likely scenario – each is going to have his own spin, and I hate to get involved beyond making them both sit in silence for two minutes.

The bad news, according to Amber the commissary checkout clerk after she caught their act a few weeks ago: It’s going to get worse. “Wait until they start fighting over girls,” she said.

In the end, though, it will work out, she added quickly. “Mine decided to enlist at the same time so they could go to boot camp together. One wouldn’t do it without the other.”

I supposed that means that in 15 years or so my guys will be inseparable, assuming that one doesn’t bean the other with the imaginary baseball before then.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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