I remember when Zack was born. Joel and I sat in those tiny red stack-em chairs looking out of the wall-sized window across the hospital rooftops and I asked if he thought it would be a boy or a girl.
My grandparents had been disappointed that there was to be another child. Up until this point it had been dad, mum, Joel, and me; the perfect family.
Then Isaac came and made the perfect family a whole one.
Thankfully the boys will never read this, so I can say without fear of it coming back on me that despite all the fights and fallouts, I can’t begin to tell you how much I love those two.
I can, however, tell you that if you don’t have brothers, go get (at least) one because you are seriously missing out. Of course there are days when you just want to pick them up and shake them, but all that aside, they’re worth keeping really.
They’re not complicated. I don’t know about you, but I find girls difficult. Everything is a long drawn out drama and there are so many layers of meaning in everything. It’s too complicated. Brothers are great because you fight it out, grunt an apology then everything is ok. And if they’re upset it’s usually because they’re tired/hungry/bored/worried; they’re being made to do something they don’t want to do; or the girlfriend is being a pain.
They’re pretty simple when it comes to expressing how they feel too. If they get out of bed before 10am for you, you’re doing just fine. I know all human beings are complex creatures when it comes to thoughts and feelings but on the whole, you know where you stand with your brothers.
They’re hilarious. There’s no denying it. Between Isaac’s dry political commentary at the dinner table (most of which is best to remain at the table) and Joel’s constant wordplay keeping us on our toes, even difficult days rarely pass without an attempt at a smile. One of the best things about the boys is that they are natural comedians. We’ve been through some bizarre and downright upsetting scenarios but there has always been something to joke about.
They always have your back. It would never occur to me even to question this one. There’s an old Arab proverb: ‘Me against my brother, me and my brother against the world.’
Joel was always there when I was cornered. Every time. To this day I don’t know how he managed it. He had the sole right to be mean to me and woe betide anyone else who tried.
I remember the day that the gang had backed us up against a car, trapped and ready to be pummeled. He hauled me out by the scruff of the neck an told me to run. We were both scared but he hid it in his fists. I cried with relief when he did not have to fight and came home unharmed but fuming.
Praise God those days are over. Nowadays the two of them feign disinterest but I know they’re keeping an eye on things. They’ve got my back. It tells sometimes if I talk about my guy friends — Joel gets all surly.
One of the best things about brothers is that they’ll protect you, even when you’re perfectly capable of protecting yourself. But it’s mutual. We’ve all taken physical and verbal blows for each other. That’s part of being siblings.
So there you are. Obviously all brothers are different (that’s the great thing about them) but these are a few observations about our two. There are times when disowning them seems like a legitimate option, but when those times come, the memory of cardboard rafts on imaginary seas, and snowball fights at one in the morning remind me that no matter how annoying they can be, my brothers (the nuisance that they are) are the best.