One day, Big Man was sitting between my wife and me on the short couch we have in the back room. We are not particularly wide people, but with the multiple throw pillows our modern design culture demands at either end of a sofa, we made a snug trio. Buster came into the room, and not seeing a convenient nook into which to wedge himself among us, declared in disappointment, “I wanna sit in the love.”
It’s adorable to hear your four-year-old phrase a situation like this, and that was the trouble. You can hardly refuse a request to join the love. As comfortable as you might be, you can’t say, “Sorry; no room,” to a kid who just wants to be included in the circle of familial affection. You can say it in a heartbeat to a boy who wants a spot on your couch, but when that couch is the Love Boat, you have to shift your reluctant butt, jettison a throw pillow or two, and let down the gangplank.
It’s all worth it though, to reinforce a child’s appreciation for his family. That is, it would be worth it if there were any hope of that appreciation lasting more than one fleeting second. Unfortunately, love is always warmer when you are watching it from off the couch.
I don’t remember how our little lovefest ended, but it’s a safe bet it degenerated into a squabble between Big Man and Buster. An overpopulated sofa will cause that. So will almost anything else you can imagine.
Four-year-olds and two-year-olds can find a way to fight about anything, because it’s not about the thing, it’s the you got it; I want it sentiment. On that same principle, four-year-olds can find innumerable things to fight over with seven-year-olds. You would think a seven-year-old would run out of things to squabble over with a two-year-old, but that’s where you’re wrong. It turns out there is still a lot of two-year-old left in a seven-year-old. My wife might tell you there’s a lot of two-year-old left in a 48-year-old, but I disagree; I act much more like a four-year-old.
All of this fighting is how we are sure the love we sit in is real. None of them would have such vigorous disagreements with other kids. It’s only their brothers who inspire such depth of emotion. Only their brothers could ever send the message, “I’m kicking you because I love you.” Granted, that’s not the entire reason for the kicking (“You’re in my spot, Butthead!”), but it wouldn’t happen to someone less dear.
These boys have built the foundation for a lifetime of devotion to each other through their tireless efforts at fussing and feuding. It’s hard work being such a good brother like that. So, sometimes you’ve got to let all that love settle and just go sit in it for a minute.
You’ll fight better after a bit of rest.