My boys are three years apart. I believe this is a nice age gap for the following reasons:
- Oliver understands that, no matter how many times Archie punches him in the back, he is not to retaliate. He is too big.
- Archie understands that no matter how many time Oliver gets to use the grownup scissors, he is not to imitate. He is too little.
And there was that one other thing, but it’s slipping my mind at the moment.
Actually, having our boys three years apart has worked out pretty well for us Bandases. They are close enough that they play well together, but far enough apart that there is a clear-cut Big Bro/Little Bro dynamic. If you’re not familiar with said dynamic, I believe it’s more commonly referred to as the “Monkey See Monkey Do” phenomenon. And we’ve currently got two, very active little primates taking up residence in our house.
So much so, that for the last few weeks, Brian and I have joked that Archie’s favorite word right now is: “Too”.
I wanna ride my bike, too.
I wanna put my shoes on, too.
I wanna throw my sword across the room and knock over a lamp, too.
Their latest follow-the-leader routine took place just a few days ago when, after waking up from some of the shortest naps on record, they both demanded a glass of water. I say demanded because lately both of my boys have forgotten that I am their mother and not a waitress who somehow got trapped in their house.
A minute or two after I returned with their sippy cups full of high quality H2O, Archie picked up Oliver’s empty cup and in a saccharine-sweet voice asked, “Oliver, did you spill your water?”
In Archie’s world, this was not a silly question. In Archie’s world, if a sippy cup is completely empty, than you can be pretty damn sure that it’s been spilled. So by the laws of toddlerhood, obviously Oliver must have spilled his water and therefore must be feeling sad about it and need comforting. This got me to thinking about how quick I am to make assumptions about other people and how they react to their unique experiences and circumstan. And how, no matter if my assumptions are accurate or not, if I could just empathize with another person based on how they’re experiencing their reality rather than how I think they should be experiencing it – how much better that would be.
Because in what universe am I the omnipotent being who decides how everyone in the world should react to a given event? I don’t even want that kind of power! What if instead, I just tried to listen and understand the perspective of other people. Wouldn’t that empower me with wisdom, rather than weigh me down with judgment? Wouldn’t I become a more compassionate, sensitive person? Wouldn’t I walk away from less interactions feeling like a self-righteous B?
Maybe if I could draw on my own past experiences, like the day when I yelled at myself in the mirror because I felt so physically unattractive and out of control or the time I screamed bloody murder in my driveway because I couldn’t find my keys – maybe if I could recall how although my reality was hard to understand in those moments, the compassion of others remained invaluable and should serve as a reminder to reciprocate that kindness to everyone around me.
Because you never know who may have just spilled their sippy cup.