From my journal - 2003
I watch my sons struggling together on the living room floor. With ragged breathing and chests heaving, they are each determined to make the other "tap out and cry uncle." Two strapping Marines, this is the first time they've been home on leave together. Right now they are venting a little energy and revisiting their former sibling rivalry.
My mind wanders back to their childhood days. I see two little boys with building blocks on the hearth, working together to construct a castle. Those same two boys spent hours riding their bikes outdoors, whizzing past one other in their own version of the Indianapolis 500. At other times, they camped out in their room and played with dozens of plastic army soldiers; it was strategic warfare at its best. If I was looking for one son, I'd usually find them both. Side by side, they were best buds.
Fast forward a few years, and their personal interests took vastly different turns in the road. The older son liked being outdoors and playing sports; the younger chose to stay inside and concentrate on computer games. They chose new friends based upon these personal interests and time spent together dwindled. Teasing and tormenting one another followed.
Later, when those definitive male hormones kicked in, the desire to outdo each other escalated. But they were not on level playing fields. The "athlete" with large hands and fast feet could easily beat his brother in basketball. The "geek" was faster at figuring out the newest video games and trumped his brother time and time again. Tempers flared, and they side-stepped one another often. Neither of them seemed to need an in-house “best bud.”
Today I watch them as they interact on a level playing field. Both are young adults; both have tanned bodies that are well-muscled and hardened by military training. They have more in common now, because they've faced the same obstacles: the dreaded tear gas chamber, the swim test in full combat gear, the renowned "crucible" before graduation. No longer are they fighting one another; my sons stand together to fight oppression and to protect their country.
Beyond sibling rivalry, they are best buds once again. I smile when one of my sons taps out of the wrestling match. His brother stands, offers a hand and pulls him up. Grinning at me, they hook their arms around each others' shoulders and head to the kitchen for a snack.