My boys have historically come as a package deal.  They are close in age and share a lot of the same interests.  Their bond was likely accelerated once my daughter was born.  As a new family of five, we had to divide and conquer and out of necessity, my husband took Noah and Zac while I was assigned to Eliza.

Socially speaking, we are fortunate to have many family friends that also have two children (often two boys) in the same age range so up until this point it’s been easy to have play dates where everyone is invited and everyone comes.  The kids mix and mingle as they see fit without any lines in the sand being drawn.

boys beach Collage

Built in Best Buds from the Beginning

This summer is presenting us with challenges I haven’t faced yet as a parent.  Zac still wants to be by his brother’s side, but not everything that Noah participates in has a carve out for little brothers.  Noah has not been the impetus for excluding his brother (I hope that’s not right around the corner), but his friendship circle has expanded such that there isn’t always a token sibling to pair up as Zac’s playmate.  Zac finds these new circumstances insulting.  He is frustrated with the injustice and does not find any consolation from playing with his little sis.

We live in a delightful neighborhood full of school aged kids and in particular, incoming second graders.  It is not uncommon for one of the neighborhood crew to stop by our house asking if Noah can come out for a bike ride around the neighborhood.  {Let’s set aside for a moment the fact that I grew up riding my bike for hours and hours in a circle the width of two driveways because venturing out any further was strictly forbidden.  All of this is way beyond my comfort zone.}  Ultimately, I believe it is important for Noah to gradually build his independence and strengthen these friendships.  The moms in the neighborhood have built a web of communication using walkie talkies and text messages.  The boys are riding their bikes from one cul-de-sac to another and there are side walks.  Noah continues to prove that my trust in him is not misplaced.  The idea of Noah riding carefree through our neighborhood streets is growing on me more and more every 90 degree day that passes.  But Zac?  Although, his swagger makes him seem 15, but he’s only 5, and not emotionally mature enough to handle the same responsibilities that I’ve placed on Noah’s shoulders.  We had a trial run.  The results weren’t catastrophic, but Zac is clearly not ready.  Noah, being less than two years older, is not yet equipped with all the big brother instincts.  He’s seven.  I don’t think it’s right for me to expect him to be my eyes and ears in a situation that is all together new to him.

Adding insult to injury, the chasm of discrimination is deepened by the fact that Noah also gets to experience day camp for four weeks while Zac is demoted back to the day care he spent the first 3 years of his life.  In Zac’s mind, day care is a “baby school” because little sister Eliza is there.  The night before he was set to go, he demanded to know if it was the “law” that he attend day care – I said yes.  I’m sure he was also nervous because he doesn’t know anyone in his class.  Without his other half by his side, his chest doesn’t puff out quite as much.

Sorry, Zac.  Right now, age is so much more than a number.