Since our boys were very little, I have made sure they hear me say, “Your number one job in life is to be good to your brothers.”
In the closing weeks of summer vacation, I had to remind them often. They had spent too much time together, suddenly missed their friends, and with the older boys entering adolescence, I began to worry that my mantra was lost on them. “What’s your most important job on this planet?!”
But they just rolled their eyes.
Then, yesterday, after a few weeks back in the groove of school, the 12 and 13 year olds both showed me that they have been listening.
First, I heard from their Lego League teacher, who was in the process of creating two distinct teams for competition, that the older one had pulled her aside. He let her know quietly that all that matters to him is that he and his brother are on the same team. Even though his two best friends in the entire world are also in Lego League, he wants to share it with his brother.
Later in the day, I picked them up from soccer practice, after which they were delighted with themselves and each other. The younger one, and better athlete, had earned the “play of the day.” The older one had scored the winning goal – his first ever goal. Neither of them cared that their feats had been achieved in practice, not a game.
The younger one waited until we were alone to tell me that his brother “was so happy when he scored that goal. You should have seen him. And the whole team was happy. It was awesome.”
I whispered what I had heard from the Lego League teacher. “That’s because if I’m on his team, he knows we’ll win,” but his grin spread from ear to ear.