One of my first thoughts when holding my son for the first time was: wow, he looks just like my brother. The similarities with his uncle have continued and moved beyond the physical. Through my son, I see elements of my own childhood with my little brother coming to life again. Learning from this little 2-year-old has allowed me to gain insight into someone I have known for nearly 30-years.
Like most toddlers, N is fiercely independent, but beyond that he has conviction in his opinions. He is determined and sometimes stubborn. I remember these traits well in many of the sibling rivalries that my brother and I experienced. As an adult, I have the restraint to handle these battles differently than as a child dealing with another child, but I will admit there are some reactions that are just instinctual.
From the beginning, N has craved motion. He loved swinging, bouncing, rocking, jumping, and anything that allowed him to move before he was able to move himself. We used to walk him everywhere in his stroller or a baby carrier and everyone joked that he would wake from the deepest sleep the second you stopped moving. As a toddler, he continues to move, but now on his own, running, climbing, pushing trucks, and riding bikes. Strangers at the park comment, “he’s the fastest 2-year-old we have ever seen,” just about every day. His sense of balance is remarkable, as he demonstrates on his new balance bike often. I remember one time as he shook out his blond locks from under his bike helmet, grinning at me with pride over how fast he lapped the other kids, he took a swig of water and said, “more fast, mommy.” And he was off again. His uncle was the same way. He’s been in motion since birth, on bikes, skateboards, surfboards, and snowboards. He’s picked up each one in a matter of minutes, mastering it while I was still learning how to get on the equipment. His adrenaline-seeking nature has stopped my mom’s heart a few times and now mine knows the same fear.
A Vermonter now, his uncle has always enjoyed nature. He is an Eagle Scout who loves hiking, fishing, biking, and camping. N similarly seems to thrive outdoors. It is hard to contain him inside on rainy or wintery days and so we play in all-weather conditions to fill that adventurous need. This is foreign territory for his climate-controlled, city-living mommy, but I’m learning to enjoy getting a little dirty.
While wild is one way that many would describe these two men, there is also a tenderness there that those closest to them know well. Both have a sensitive spirit and a strong sense of home. I think while there are many aspects of this parallel that are challenging for me, being very different in temperament and interests from my brother, that the familiarity of it is also refreshing. I know that when I am beyond my expertise, his uncle can fill those gaps.