Sunday, June 22, 2008

Brotherly Love

Today (Saturday, despite the misleading header), started out like any other with the boys screaming at each other at the butt-crack of dawn. The argument this time was apparently over their cousins, Stephanie and Patrick.

'Patrick is MY cousin!'
'No, MINE.'
'He is MY cousin and so is Stephanie.'
'No, Stephanie is mine. Patrick, too. Not you. Me.'

Ok, morons, let's go over the basic concepts of family and relatives again... Before I could intervene, though, they had disappeared to their room and began arguing over which color dinosaur each of them would be. 'I'm the purple one'... 'No, red. I'm purple'... 'Red'...'Purple'... This continues in an ever increasing volume and anger until Angie pops her head around the corner. 'I am sick of all this arguing - you need to stop it this instant. Give me the dinosaurs... NOW. When it comes to mothers, it is not so much the content of the delivery as it is the tone of the delivery. Seeing that Angie was turning shades of red and purple herself, the boys wisely handed over the plastic replicas and moved on to their next argument.

Colors tend to be a predominate theme for arguments between the boys. Knowing this fact and being the wise parents we are, Angie and I have bought everything Noah-style. TWO blue cups, TWO orange plates, TWO yellow get the picture. At least you should. Angie and I patted ourselves on the back and proudly congratulated ourselves on how big the collective Johnson brain was. Kids are a lot like criminals, though. As soon as you come up with one way of controlling their behavior, they almost instantly replace it with another channel for their delinquent drudgery.

We sat down for breakfast - or, as other families call it, lunch. Today we chose orange and dished out the food on two identical plates. Peter and David were apparently still carrying some leftover aggression over cousin possession or dinosaur ownership. Peter looked around for a way to annoy David. I know this look, although it is hard to describe. It is not really a smile, not a smirk; it is more of a concentrated grin that only comes up when looking for a way to irritate a fellow human for no other reason than to see if you can. Peter could.

'I have bananas' [putting the bait on the hook]
'Me, too, Peter. Me too.'
'My plate is orange' [throwing it in the water]
'Mine, too. Mine too.'
'My plate doesn't have any scratches on it' [reeling in the big one]

A slight hesitation as David checks the accuracy of this last statement. A quiver of the lower lip as realization sinks in. A brief silence as David takes in a deep breath that will be needed for the next five to ten minutes of screaming because his plate has a tiny scratch going down the middle. A smug look as Peter sits and enjoys the chaos he has instigated. Thanks, jerk-o.

Although the first half of the day could be described as Cain and Abel reenacted, the motto for the second half was definitely Brotherly Love. We had planned to go to the Zoo in Karslruhe with some friends. With the circus disaster still fresh in my mind, I made the arrangements. We met at the station, where we split up. I went to get the tickets and everyone went to the track. It took a little longer than expected, so I was running to the train with the tickets. Angie saw me and began boarding. Peter did not see me, and freaked out. I can totally understand where he might have believed that Angie would leave me behind. I have to admit, though, it was somewhat reassuring that Peter would not easily abandon me at a train station for some cheap thrills at the zoo with Mom.

The ride there was basically an hour of the kids playing a new, mega-intelligent game called 'Uppsala'. The way it works is that one kid says 'I live in Uppsala'. Then, it is the other kid's turn. That's it. Great, isn't it? You would think that after 20 or 30 times, this amusing and rather repetitive game might grown tiring. Not for the kids, who were still giggling 'Uppsala' when we pulled into the station.

The zoo was great. We saw animals. We went to the playground. Peter fell in a pond and got completely soaked. Papa laughed his ass off. Peter cried. Mama yelled at Papa. Papa laughed some more.

The ride back was very relaxing. Did I mention already this new game called 'Uppsala'? We agreed at the train station that Peter could spend the night at his best friend's house, so we went home to pack his suitcase. Before leaving, Peter explained that when David was 4 he could spend the night at a friend's house, too. I am not sure if this was another 'dig' to try and wind David up, but the explanation was accepted. 'I think I'm going to miss you, little brother' and the following hug created a bonding moment, even if they did not realize it.
Ladder Talk:
1) What was the best part of your day?
Peter: When I had that thing for dessert. That drink with the funny straw.

2) What was the worst part of your day?
Peter: When I have that owa here on my arm.

3) What would you like to do tomorrow?
Peter: Maybe go to the zoo or to Dalia.

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