Around our house these days life seems to have developed a pattern: Tim lopes around listening to music on his Ipod, doing things on the computer, or watching crime reality TV. Jeffrey spends most of his time pestering Tim, complaining about Tim, and whining.
This week Tim has been sick with a cold and the computer was at the shop getting the hard drive replaced after he crashed it when "trying out a new operating system." Today I couldn't stand the TV shows he was watching so I ordered him to find something else to do and he went downstairs to play his drums. Jeffrey tagged along after him and I got to work on the Laundry. After the drum music stopped they stayed down there for quite a while and when I eventually went down to see what they were up to, I found them immersed in play with their GI-Joe sized guys, just like they used to do. I hurried away because I didn't want to disturb them.
Later in the day I was out shopping with Jeffrey and we were talking about setting up some things in the basement for a Destination Imagination meeting tomorrow. I suggested that we gather up some supplies such as scissors when we got home.
"I already did some of that" Jeff said.
"Oh, is that when you were downstairs with Tim?" I asked.
"No, it was before that. Today he was tired so he forgot that he grew up and played guys with me." Jeffrey replied.
I almost didn't catch what he meant, and then it sank in. "So you had fun playing with your brother today?"
"Yeah, it was good."
It was then I realized why Jeffrey has been having such a difficult time lately. I hadn't thought about what it would be like to have your lifetime perfect playmate very suddenly become two feet taller than you, with a whole new different deep voice, and all new interests that don't include you. Jeffrey has been missing the old Timmy and wanting him to come back. And he did that day, if just for a little while.
Sometimes I miss the little boy Timmy too. And the babies and toddlers that they both once were. That is the heartbreak of parenting. Right along with the excitement of watching them go on to each new phase comes the twang of regret of loss for the one they are leaving behind. I cherish the little-boy sweetness of Jeffrey all the more knowing as I do now that those days are numbered as well.
I'm glad that Tim could "forget that he grew up" if just for an afternoon of playing with his little brother. It probably feels good to forget you grew up for just a little while. I think I'd like to try it sometime.