By Paul Morrone, CFP®, CPA/PFS, MSA
Our kids are always front and center when it comes to looking in the rear view mirror these days. They have been growing – physically and developmentally – at an astounding pace. This summer offered some of the biggest steps forward for both children – with Ryan, now 2, and Kyle turning 4 next week. During the first 18 months of Ryan’s life, we questioned our decision to have the boys so close together (they are 22 months apart), but now we’re seeing the benefits. Their ‘brotherhood’ is becoming clear, as the gap in Ryan’s ability to communicate, interact and play on Kyle’s level gets smaller by the day. They can entertain each other, sometimes for hours – although it is typically not without its share of drama, roughhousing and destroying of the house. A small price to pay for what we hope to be a lifelong bonding process.
As Kyle assumes the role of big brother, he has used his incredible vocabulary and communications skills to encourage, teach and engage Ryan in a way that an adult cannot. Ryan has struggled with his speech, although his ability to articulate words and sentences has expanded exponentially over the past six months. Interestingly, many doctors, speech experts and teachers have found that COVID babies as a whole (Ryan was born June of 2020) are behind in their speech because of the mask requirements that prevented infants from being able to watch the mouths of people as they spoke to them. Whatever the reason, Kyle has made it part of his mission to help Ryan talk. The best part, none of this was encouraged by Jill or I and he has been doing it for months now on his own accord.
It melts my heart to see them sitting together on the chair as Kyle points to pictures and sounds out words. Ryan responds by doing his best to imitate Kyle’s speech. When he gets it right, Kyle will offer a hug or high-five for encouragement and then announce to the whole house that Ryan learned a new word. On the weekends, they have made it part of their morning routine where Kyle will “read” to Ryan in his rocking chair, describing what he’s seeing in the book and helping Ryan with words he doesn’t know.
Kyle continues to look after his brother and will go out of his way to check up on Ryan during the day while they are at school. When they started their new classrooms this week, Kyle insisted that he walk Ryan to meet his new teach and help him get acclimated in the new environment. Upon entering the room, he set Ryan up with some toy trucks and a few books, gave Ryan a hug and a kiss, and told him to have a good day with his new teacher (whom Kyle had – and loved – two years ago). Little did I know how helpful that would be, as most of the other children were screaming and crying their first day – Ryan, now having been in the room several days, has yet to shed a tear. It’s an amazing transition from a child who only a short time ago was fearful of anyone that he didn’t know (another by product of COVID, according to experts).
But as we all know, brotherly love certainly is not without its tumultuous times. Ryan, although 2 years younger, weighs nearly as much as Kyle, and when the two of them get into it, a brawl ensues. Our living room turns into a WWE wresting ring and everything from pillows to toy trucks become weaponized. Most altercations end with both kids laughing, but there are a handful that get ugly, typically when they are hungry or tired and don’t know where to draw the line. Needless to say, both kids are perpetually bruised, cut and banged up – but happy – so I guess we can’t complain.