Chel Owens’ guest post on Pete Springer’s blog made me laugh, and it took me back to when my two sons were small. They hated the sight of each other, and each would try his best to get the other one into trouble. Leon was the older and more aggressive one and would throw the odd kick or punch, but always announced quite loudly that only he was allowed to beat his brother up. Marc, more passive and laid-back, never had any trouble with neighbourhood kids if Leon was around.

We used to take them swimming on Sundays and watch from the side. There was usually a giant octopus-like inflatable in the pool for the children to play on. One Sunday there was an older girl sitting right atop the octopus and throwing kids back into the water that were brave enough to climb up to where she sat. Marc tried to climb onto the octopus but couldn’t quite manage it. We were astounded to see Leon lifting his brother onto the octopus instead of trying to drown him. Marc then climbed up to where the girl sat, but she pushed him off the inflatable and down into the water.

Leon saw what had gone on. He climbed up to the girl, pushed her off the octopus and then jumped down to help Marc back on. With Marc in front they both climbed to the top. Marc sat like King Kong at the top, while Leon guarded him against the wrath of the girl.

This brotherly love was not very apparent when they were young, but strengthened as they reached their late teens and beyond. The only time I remember a dispute in their late teens was when we took them to a concert and stayed overnight in a hotel. The booking got fouled up and to their horror they found out that their room had only one double bed in it and one sofa. One boy looked at the other boy and as one they both announced to us …

“I’m not sleeping with him.”

We left them arguing about who got the bed !

Now they are as close as brothers can be, but when they are in our house with their families they still play-fight as though they were kids again. If I pretend to tell them off then Leon will pick me up, deposit me in another room, and then return to his brother and carry on play-fighting. The Boxing Day get-together will be noisy…