Brothers: Best Friends, Worst Enemies and the Greatest Inventors 

​Brothers are best friends and worst enemies… strongest ally and biggest rival. I know… I have one, I live that so called “sibling rivalry.” I’ve made him eat dirt and thrown him through a wall (literally through) and he broke my nose. I also would want him by my side if there was something going down (unless Chuck Norris or Conor McGregor were available). Now I get to watch two brothers play this game of sibling chess from the outside looking in. 

Everyone gave the warnings, “expect the worst. Jax is going to regress, he’s going to be full of anger and jealousy. He’ll be completely uninterested in the baby… he won’t understand the change. The first time they meet Jax might hit him.” 

There were nerves all around that day in the nursery. We set the meet and greet up w caution and care. It was like setting your best friend up on a blind date. “Dont worry, it’ll be great, he’ll totally get you!” “You guys will hit it off right off the bat.” “Just be yourself and it’ll all be fine.”

Rewind 30+ years ago… I’m told I didn’t handle the situation very well. My little brother didn’t get such a warm welcome upon his entry into this world. But that was short lived. We enjoyed a ton of fun, experienced many life altering situations and caused/got into our fair share of trouble. From snake attacks, to the steam roller, to the babysitter who sprayed potpourri everywhere, enduring bringing home another sibling… this time a sister, to pillow wars on thanksgiving resulting in vomiting turkey and stuffing everywhere… to running the courts in the Bronx with the “neighborhood ‘friends’ who carried knives”… to car clubs and booming systems and holding each other’s blocks at the starting line and winning gold and setting hurdle records togethercollege roommates… well that’s another story. Let’s just say a Britney Spears poster, a comforter and a gallon of spackle saved us a lot of money that year. However, I’m pretty sure the best thing to come out of our relationship was the invention of the Olympic pending sport “All Out Basketball.” Imagine living in the northeast where winter pretty much kills the idea of playing basketball on outdoor courts… even with a shovel and some ice melt… there no way to have a “real game.” Dribbling is impossible, there’s no traction and the backboard can shatter with one erratic shot. 

Enter… ALL OUT BASKETBALL. A basketball based, rugby, football hybrid. It’s designed for icy backyard courts and is best played when wearing boots and 14 layers of clothing. It allows the competitors to combine the best parts of all three sports and is perfect for brothers because of its violent nature. No dribbling and a hoop low enough to dunk like you were Vince Carter in his early days (NOTE: Just for clarification… I could dunk on a 10 foot rim too). The game was played on a shotty shoveled outdoor court and competitors benefited from a slightly deflated ball (we were the Tom Brady of the neighborhood) and often resulted in ripped snow pants and fractured limbs. But it was fun… and Vinny and I are still holding out hopes the IOC will adopt it for the 2018 Winter Olympics. 

Fast forward, back to February 2017… a dimly lit nursery on a cold and snowy (ironic) day. Jackson carefully selected a present for his new little brother and partner in crime. Although his first choice of a Sudoku book, was not the best pick… the blue puppy stuffed animal was perfect. He repeated, “Me hug, kiss baby Ollie.” The whole way down the hallway and up the elevator… although he had time to spell his name and count to ten for the lady who didn’t think he could find the D button for her on the elevator.  

Honestly, I’m not sure who was more excited me the first time I met Rickey Henderson or the first time Jackson met his brother Oliver. The look of excitement and honestly… the look of love was immediate (I say love because I want to believe it was love and not the look of trouble). Jackson presented Ollie with the stuffed animal he picked out and Oliver gave Jax a present too… a recycled Christmas gift that Santa had left behind… an Olaf talking figure. It was love at first sight, and he liked Oliver too. 

The meeting wasn’t long, it didn’t need to be. It was the perfect amount of hugs, kisses and questions. Jackson talked about Oliver the entire ride home, all night and all the next day until he got to hug and kiss baby Ollie again. Jackson met his new best friend and Oliver met his new body guard. As a dad you can’t ask for much more. 

Here’s to hoping these two invent something together as cool, if not cooler, than “All Out Basketball!”

Happy Birthday Mom

  
Dear Mommy,

I wanted to write you a birthday card, but I realized after a few minutes that I can’t actually write yet. So I figured the best thing to do was to let dad translate for me and put it on his blog (since everything has to be about him anyway)… So here it is:

Mom, thank you for making me realize that I am very loved and that I’m worth everything. All the kisses and hugs in the world aren’t as great if they aren’t from you.  

Mom, thank you for giving me a shoulder to cry on when I bumped my head after spinning in circles, or fell down after trying to ride Buster, and especially after I wound up in the hospital after face planting on a cobblestone walkway. I always know I’m safe as long as I have you around.  

Mom, thank you for standing up for me when I may have done something stupid like throwing a ball at someone in music class, or getting in a “friends personal space at daycare.” You showed me that family always comes first and loyalty is an important virtue for everyone to exhibit.  

Mom, thank you for making sure I always chose the right sort of people to be friends with. Because of you I will always surround myself with respectable and responsible people through each and every phase of my life… (too bad the same can’t be said for dad. His friends are weirdos).

Mom, thank you for showing me it’s ok to be happy with who I am and that being yourself is the only person you should want to be in life. I have learned about love and humor and how to enjoy life because of you. I also have learned how to stand up to the things I am afraid of and that being afraid of those things in the first place is a normal part of life… As long as I face them and realize that in the end I’m stronger than anything that I might be scared of.  

But most importantly… Thank you for being my mommy, because as far as moms go… you’re the best.  

Happy Birthday!

Love,

Jackson

  
    
   

What I Want You to Know

As we consider the possibility of sending Jackson to daycare here the four questions that were asked of us:

What are the 3 things you want your child to learn from our center:  Compassion, inquiry, problem solving

What are your child’s favorite things: His Blankie and his brothers Buster and Max

What is the one thing about your child we should know?:   He probably won’t ever know who takes care of him when he is 19 months old… He might not remember you by name… But he will remember you none the less. He will remember how you act, your body language and the tone of your voice. He won’t ever forget how you make him feel. 

What do you expect from your child care center? Communication, Positive role models, and not sending him home with the wrong parent

Decisions

You know it’s funny… All of our friends are starting to have kids and/or already have kids and we joke around and pretend that when they grow up they’re going to get married. We say things like we’re going to arrange their marriage or we sit here and take all these cute pictures of them.   

But the scary thing is at some point these kids are going to grow up and have to start make decisions on their own. It’s so insane how every single small decision you make in your life can literally have consequences and/or a ripple effect throughout time. How do you teach a child the fact that something he does when he’s seven years old, or 18 years old, or 27 years old, or 35 years old can have a lasting effect on not only him but everyone else he comes in contact with?  How do you teach that to a child who right now would literally eat a Lego for dinner if I let him? 

You want nothing but the best for your children and you want to help guide them so that they make the best possible decisions in their life. But how do you do that when you’re not sure about your own decisions in your own life? How do you help a child through the inquiry process that is life? How do you help a child figure out that trial and error is not always the easiest way and it’s not always going to help you get the answer that you really want?  

I want to solve problems for him. I want to help him find the right puzzle piece. I want to help him turn the pages of the book when he struggles with his fine motor skills. I want to help him turn on a toy when he can’t figure out where the on/off switch is.

The thing is I’m an educator and I understand that you’re not always supposed to find the right answer… sometimes you’re supposed to find the way to the right answer. But how do you do that? How do you exactly work on the process of getting to the right decision when you’re not sure what the right decision is?

How do I decide if he should go to daycare or if I should home school him? How do I decide when something is wrong and I should contact my pediatrician? How do I decide when it’s just something developmental as opposed to something he’s actually struggling with? Where do you draw the line? where do you decide that you actually can’t make an educated decision because you’re too involved in the actual situation?

I feel like I have the knowledge and experiences to make these kind of decisions in the best interest of everyone involved but I struggle to actually “pull the trigger.” Where does experience, knowledge and book smarts stop and your heart take over? When you know something may really be wrong and you know what the right decision has to be, but you feel like you can’t actually do it?

Sometimes people say the best way to figure out what to do is to take a chance… do things that you think might bring on the best results… take a chance even though it might be against what other people are saying… do the things that deep down you know are the right things to do.  

Being a parent sucks… you know why it sucks… because I can’t even make decisions for myself and I’ve had 36 years of experience in knowing what I like and what I don’t like… what works and what doesn’t work… And I still literally can’t make a decision on the most absolutely ridiculously, simplest things in life… “Do I want the dress shirt that has thin purple stripes or thick purple stripes?” That question shouldn’t take me four weeks and three returns to make… And then I have this little person in front of me who needs help… who needs me to support him in every way possible. He needs to me to make sure that he’s getting the The right amount of sleep… that he’s getting the right amount of food… that I’m choosing the right books to read to him and that we choose the right experiences for him.

I hope one day that he doesn’t feel that his parents inhibited him in his decision making… that he has the right state of mind and the right support and background to make the decisions that he knows are best for him. I hope that the decisions I make for him are going to be the best decisions possible for him… The ones that will help him develop into the person that I know he can be…. The ones that I know will help him maneuver through a world that can be so incredibly cruel, but at the same time can be so incredibly rewarding. 

A Letter for Grammy Nancy

Dear Grammy,

How can I thank you for everything you do for me? I’m not even sure you know how much you do for my family. I wish I knew how to talk so I could say thank you for all the nice things you do for me, but for now this letter will have to do.

Thank you for watching me everyday while mommy and daddy work. I wish they could stay home all day and play with me and read me books, but I know they love their jobs and love making money even more. When they work I miss them a lot, but being with you and not at some strangers house helps me feel better.

Thank you for working overtime and night hours so you can help mommy and daddy during the day. You always put everyone else first even when you are feeling sick or tired. I hope one day I can do nice things for you so that you don’t have to work so many hours.

Thank you for buying me so many toys and books. Every time I like something at my house you buy it for me at your house so I always feel like I’m home. I don’t like leaving home, but I am alway so happy when I get to come to your house for the day.

Thank you for teaching me things like words and colors and shapes. I love when we get to do fruit and veggie of the day. I like getting to try to eat everything the best. I know I am going to grow up really, really smart because you teach me so much when we are together.

Thanks for always fixing stuff around my house. I feel bad, because dad always tries to fix stuff but he’s really bad at it. He always growls and yells at stuff when he is trying to fix it, but that never helps. When ever something breaks I always think to myself, “why don’t they just call Grammy?” You’re a great fixer-upper

Thank you for doggie sitting my brothers when mommy, daddy and I go out on dates. I know you watch me all week and then you sometimes watch Buster and Max on the weekend and that is really helpful to us so we can do family things. I know Buster always eats all your stuff, so you can have any of my things to make up for that. I like to share because you taught me that sharing is important.

Thank you for being patient with mommy and daddy. They are trying their best with me. I know they nag you a lot and always give you a million directions to follow even though you already know what to do. I mean you did raise mom and she’s the best mom in the whole world.

Grammy, I love you so much. Thank you for helping me grow.

Love always,
Jackson

5.10.14. – Cuzzy Love

ella

Exciting day today. After a letting it all hang out at your photo shoot this AM you met your cousin Moose (Ella Bella).

it was “cuzzy luv” at first sight (as your
Mom and her miniature BFF Lindsey call it).

Jax, you need to embrace the fact that every friend and cousin you have is female and do your best to stay close with them throughout life. Not because blood is thicker than water or bc family is forever or any of that crap… but bc being close with female family and friends guarantee you infinite access to their beautiful lady friends throughout life.

Keep up the good work you little stud.