My sons are 11 years apart in age. In ways, they are very much alike. They are both quick-witted. They are both funny. They are both smart.
They are very different.
My younger son, Joey, is 16 now. In 16 years, the most he has ever scared me was to wander off to the neighboring subdivision without telling me where he was going.
Zach, who is 27 now, he was very different.
Joey played quietly when he was little. He liked to read books. He wasn’t enamored with climbing or riding bikes at high rates of speed or catching scaly things.
Zach on the other hand, well, Zach got into things.
Zach managed to knock a basketball hoop over with my car. When he was six. He was not in the car at the time. He and his buddy, another six year old, decided my car was in the way of their basketball fun and tried to push it out of the way. They rocked it until it started rolling backward. It hit the basketball goal, which ended up on the the roof of my car.
Here’s another difference, when Joey was small and said “Hey mom, look at this” then it meant he wanted to show me a picture he drew or to show me something he built. When Zach said “Hey mom, look at this” it meant to run to the sound of his voice as fast as you can because it’s possible he has a bucket with a snake in it that is trying to escape into the living room. I believe the snake incident happened the same Summer as the basketball hoop incident.
Joey has never had a single trip to the emergency room. Zach fell out of trees, cut himself multiple times and one horrifying time, got hit in the back of the head with a baseball bat. He was four. I watched it happen. He had a knot that was the size of a baseball. I remember holding him in the ER and walking back and forth and telling him that he couldn’t take a nap. When we got in for x-rays the nurse told him to lay on his back on a hard table. He looked at her and said “Are you crazy? Did you see the bump on my head?
That’s another way my boys differ. Joey is diplomatic. He’s outspoken, he holds strong opinions, but he is tactful. Well, tactful for a teenage boy. Zach pretty much just says exactly what is on his mind without regards to diplomacy.
Joey excels in school and Zach ended up in alternative school (for a short while) with kids who couldn’t be controlled in a traditional school setting. Most of the kids in there were budding criminals who wreaked havoc in school. Zach was in there not for a criminal act, but because he just wouldn’t stop annoying the shit out of his teachers.
Joey is creative and intelligent and he will be okay.
Zach had to take the long road to adulthood. He suffered setbacks that were so terrifying that I forgot how to take a deep breath for years.
Now? He’s successful. He’s got a great job with unlimited potential. He got his GED when he was 18 and plunged into a years long drug addiction. He has been clean for over two years now and has managed to get on a track that will keep him safe with his bills paid. He’s going to have to put a few more years in before he has to stop living lean, but he will get there. He has made some monumentally bad choices, but he is smart and he is tenacious.
My boys are approaching life in different ways. My stubborn boy took the rocky road, but I’m starting to believe it was the road he needed to take. My baby boy? I think it will be easier for him.
They adore each other. They show it in the way of the boys, which I don’t always understand, but usually find amusing.
For instance, this past weekend, when we had a packed house, Zach stopped by with his girlfriend to visit with family. He left a note written on the bathroom mirror for his brother. It said ‘Joey hearts weiners’.
Joey saw the message when he returned from work and responded by texting his brother to let him know he misspelled ‘wieners’.
There has never been a day that my devotion to these amazing boys has wavered. I am so lucky to be their mother.