From the day my oldest found out that I was pregnant, he immediately believed that I was growing him a friend inside my belly. It was only a few months later that I realized that he thought this friend was going to pop out four years old just like him. Once we introduced him to a baby and explained how little his brother would be, he just wasn’t as excited anymore. When we started discussing baby names, he announced that we should call his brother “Squishy” His reason for this was because he had heard an older relative tell him that he “grew into his name (Cannon) and was rough and loud” He told us that the ladies at daycare wouldn’t let him play in the baby room, because they were afraid he would “break the babies”. So my four year old decided that if we called the baby squishy, he would grow into his name and he would be squishy and soft and therefore unbreakable. We gave it some consideration and then decided not to name his brother squishy. Instead we went with Cullin.
Once his brother was born, Cannon was very interested in him. I would find him leering over the bassinet whispering the things they would do together once his baby brother “learned to poop in the potty” (yes that was the stipulation my oldest set for their grand adventures together). As his baby brother grew, Cannon always had an interesting take on the different milestones. When we clapped because his brother rolled over or learned to sit, Cannon thought he could teach him to do it on command (kind of like the dog). Than he started picking on his baby brother all of the time. When Cullin grew a tooth, I overheard Cannon telling him “Your breath stinks! Go brush your tooth!” I was starting to fear that the five year age gap was so big that Cannon would always see Cullin more as a toy than as a friend. One night when Cullin was one year old, he fell asleep in the car on the way home from the store. I decided to let him sleep for a minute with the car parked in the garage, while I unloaded the groceries. When I came in the house, Cannon was sitting on the couch and he looked at me and said, “Mom where is Cullin?” I decided to tease him and tell him I was short on money and had to sell his brother for the groceries. My than six year old jumped to his feet picked the groceries up and threw them at me. “Go get my brother” he screamed, “I don’t need to eat, I want my brother back!” I immediately felt like a big jerk and I explained to him that his brother was in the car and I was on my way back into the garage to get him. I was amazed to see how important his little brother already was to him. When I was five I tried to ship my baby brother to China in a box. I probably wouldn’t have cared if my mom had sold him for groceries.
Fast forward to the present. The boys are now twelve and seven. Cannon still picks on Cullin constantly, they fist fight, wrestle, and argue incessantly, but they also love each other fiercely. When Cullin has nightmares, his brother lets him sleep in his room. A couple years ago when Cannon got hit by a car, his brother worried about him, protected him, and took care of his every need for days. The older they get the more I realize, Cannon was right when I was pregnant. I was growing him a friend inside my belly. Not just any friend, his best friend!
Tiffany O’Connor is a mom to two amazing, energetic, and fearless boys. She is married to her high school sweet heart and has three college degrees. Her hobbies include watching TV shows about zombies, hiding in her hot tub with a bottle of champagne, and writing all about her misadventures parenting in a “man cave” at #Lifewithboys.