By sheer coincidence, one of my best friends and I ended up pregnant at the same time. It was exciting enough knowing that we would be able lean on each other as we navigated first-time motherhood, and our excitement grew when we found out that we were both having sons. We'd be right in the trenches with each other learning how to be moms to little boys.
Initially, our boys were supposed to be born one month apart. But when hers decided to come late and mine decided to come early, they ended up being 15 days apart.
When the boys were babies, they spent a lot of time together. We would get together at least a few times a month and either hang out at her house or go on adventures around the city. We first realized that they had a bit of an adversarial relationship when they were still fairly young. They couldn't have been more than maybe 4 months old. Her son was the bigger of the two, so it was easier for him to dominate my son. Since my son rarely fought, her son easily accepted his dominance as the status quo. Her son didn't see mine as a peer but as a toy or abstract being. He would laugh at the sound of of mine crying and often used him as an object to pull himself up on.
I had never seen an infant act that way, so I didn't know how to go about correcting the behavior. Should we have corrected it? We try to get out of their way and let them work it out, so we didn't intervene unless we thought someone could get hurt.
They love to mess with each other— stealing toys, hogging toys.
As they got older, it got harder to do things together because of their conflicting schedules. My son is what I like to describe as nocturnal. So our day starts later, usually when her son is going down for a nap. First thing in the morning, her son is ready to take on the day.
Countless trips have gotten rescheduled because someone fell asleep. This led to the boys beginning to have experiences with other kids, which began to shape the way they'd interact with each other.
My son has boundless energy, so we spend a lot of time at our local playground. Because it's the only one in our neighborhood, we see a lot of the same kids and they've all become friends. My friend does different activities with her son, often outside of our neighborhood.
They see each other less, and so they have gone from being friends to being acquaintances. They recognize each other but can't understand why they are together. Sometimes, I have to force my son to go to their house. I can't ask him why he doesn't want to go to their house—he can't articulate those feelings. Most of the time, once we get there he's fine, and he begins playing. But there have definitely been times when I have to bribe him or promise that we won't stay long just so I can get in a little grown-up time in with my friend. There are other days where I just don't push it, because it's not worth dealing with a crying toddler for a couple hours of gossip.
When you're with them, it's easy to see why they may not get along. My son is impulsive, hers is calculated. Mine is boisterous, hers enigmatic. Give my kid a few trains or cars, and he is content, though he changes his focus frequently. Her son likes to play with certain toys and has the ability to sit still for longer periods of time.
Most of the time that they're together, their relationship is completely antagonistic. They love to mess with each other— stealing toys, hogging toys. Her son will have no interest in a toy, until he sees my son playing with it. My son has gotten to where he'll fight back.
Neither will share with the other. It's almost as if it's on purpose!
Some may not put much weight into astrological signs, but they're both Virgos. Maybe that has something to do with it?
Who are we kidding? It probably is on purpose.
Though you wouldn't know it from the way they act around each other, they do have things in common. They both like "Thomas and Friends," though my son is definitely a bigger fan. They both love "The Wiggles." They both like to play cars and trucks, and listen to music. They both like cheese, albeit different kinds, Cheerios and chicken nuggets. They're both super smart. Their comprehension is amazing, and their aptitude for technology is mind boggling. Some may not put much weight into astrological signs, but they're both Virgos. Maybe that has something to do with it?
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As they've gotten older and grown more into the individuals they are, their relationship has shifted a little. On a few occasions, they've gotten along like best friends. Recently, my son even asked to go play with hers. When I go to their house by myself, her son always looks for mine.
I know they don't actually hate each other. I just don't know if they know how to navigate each other. I have no idea how things will change as they get older, or if they will change. But I sure hope they do. They'll always be a part of each other's lives, so they might as well get used to it.
Photograh by: Sa'iyda Shabazz