Zeke was quick to exploit the possibilities of having a younger brother with limited communication skills and a well-documented tendency to manufacture chaos. Jack was just barely walking the first time that Zeke came up to me shaking his head, arms crossed over his chest, and said in a familiar exhausted and conspiratorial tone,
“Mom, look what Jack’s doing now.”
I can’t venture a guess at the number of times I’ve entered the boys’ room to find that bin after bin of toys has been haphazardly dumped, rendering the room completely impassable. In the midst of the mess, I generally find the two of them all smiles, united in the thrill of mayhem. When I inquire about what on earth happened in there, Zeke will answer, his voice echoing my disbelief,
“Jack got a little crazy, Mama.”
Mmmm. Jack, huh.
Then there are the times that a blood-curdling shriek and hysterical sobs slice through the silence, stopping my heart and sending me running into their room. There I find Jack red-faced and howling, fat tears flowing down his cheeks. Zeke is generally about as far away from his little brother as possible, unconcernedly sorting legos or engaged quietly with a book. Attempting to get a clear answer about what might have happened borders on futile. Zeke frequently appears confused; he’ll give an exaggerated shrug, and say in a mystified voice,
“I don’t know what happened to Jack, Mom.”
At other times he is defensive,
“You didn’t SEE me do anything!”
Or he pleads no contest; sits voluntarily down in his white rocking chair, “I’m in time-out already!” and refuses under any circumstances to explain why he’s given himself this punishment.
But, with time, something that Zeke failed to anticipate has taken place. Jack started talking. And, many a time that I am confronted with one of these mysterious scenes, Jack is able to clearly communicate through his tears, exactly why he is so upset.
“Zekie scratch me!”
“Zekie hit me!”
or, once last week,
“Zekie bite me!”
When confronted with his victim’s clear testimony Zeke becomes visibly uncomfortable. He shifts his weight from foot to foot and his face zooms through a variety of expressions: outrage, innocence, confusion…..
No one told him his pesky little brother was going to learn to TALK! The balance of power has been altered and Zeke is no longer comfortably in control.