Wednesday, December 2, 2009


It was going to be a long afternoon. Sean wanted to play basketball outside which is fine -- the weather, albeit cold, was unusually sunny. He ran to put his high tops on and grab a ball and he headed out to our neighbor’s basketball hoop. The first try, arms between his leg, the old granny-style toss, proved to be unsuccessful, the ball floating through air, touching no net, not even rim or backboard and sailing straight down in front of him. He started muttering. Second attempt was worse. It actually went over the backboard and landed in the neighbor’s June berry bush. His hands began slapping against his legs and his voice got angrier,

“Don’t watch me, Mommy. Go inside!”

“Sean, you are not going to make every basket. You have to be a big boy. No yelling.”

“ No!” he yelled, his voice edged in hysteria, “No! You go inside!”

Sean’s big brother appeared at the door, “Why is he mad?” he asked.

I walked toward him and explained that he was frustrated that he wasn’t making any baskets.

“I’ll help him,” he said and went down to the street. Sean was still angry as his brother tried to steady him, telling him to calm down and aim for the net.

I watched from the porch as each shot missed the intended net and Sean became more out of control.

“That’s enough,” I said walking to Sean and grabbing his arms and shoulders. He twisted and screamed, his body stiff as I tried to carry him into the house.

“It’s okay, Mom,” his brother said. “He’ll be fine when he makes the basket. I know. He does this.”

I dragged Sean into the house, his voice screeching, saying over and over,

“I want a new Mommy!”

All I could think was, “Good luck with that. You're stuck with the one you've got.”

Charlie came back in the house, bent down to Sean and said, “Come on, Sean. You can do this.”

I reminded Sean that he needed to be a big boy and no screaming.

“But I am frustrated,” he said, his face tear stained, even his ears were flushed red.

“I know, Sean, but you need to find a better way to deal with that. Screaming and carrying on like that isn’t going to make it any easier.”

“You stay inside, Mommy. And don‘t watch me.” his voice starting to calm, his order declared.

His brother went out with him and after the third try Sean made it. I watched secretly through the blinds and although my view of the basket was obstructed by the giant red cedar, I could see Sean’s body relax, his fists unfurl and heard no yelling -- every indication that he reached his goal.

The two brothers came back into the house, with the older brother saying,

“Good job, Sean. That was awesome. I can hardly make that shot either.” The last sentence he spoke was untrue -- he could make that shot blindfolded.

Sean was still breathless and anxious. He had built up so much anxiety over making the basket that it took him the rest of the afternoon to calm down and to lose some of his edginess.

By evening he was better, although he was tired and cranky.

“Listen to my music with me, Mommy,” he asked, toothpaste on his chin and his pajamas inside-out. I sat down on his bed while the music floated out of the CD player -- the flute and violin softening the night.

His older brother came in a few minutes later and said, “I will stay with him, Mom.”

“No, that's okay. Thank you, though." I whispered.

Then Sean piped up, “You stay with me, C?”

“Sure, Sean,” He said.
I tucked them in and said good nights and went to my room which is directly across from Sean’s room. I listened to them talk. They do not talk like brothers who are only 19 months apart. Sean talks about things that matter to him and only him,

“Who do you want to be in Monsters vs. Aliens? “

His brother plays along, “Can I be the Missing Link?”

Sean thinks it over and says, “Okay. You are the Missing Link. Is Shrek Pixar or Dreamworks?”

And then, like he always does when he goes through his litany of questions answers his own question, “Dreamworks. Yes, it is. Dreamworks.”

I am about to leave my room when I hear his older brother say kindly,

"You are a really good basketball player, Sean. Maybe someday we can play basketball together. What do you think?”

Sean doesn’t answer. There is just silence for a moment and then Sean says,

“Yellow is my favorite color.”

More silence. “I like blue. Good night, Sean,” his brother says softly.

I really wanted to hear, and for the briefest moment thought I might, Sean answer,

“Yes, I do want to play basketball. That would be fun.”

But my boys don’t have conversations like that. My older child is incredibly patient, but I couldn’t help think that sometimes he must long for the brother who can shoot hoops and talk football and tell jokes with and share stories.

My mother would say, “You never miss what you never had.”

Maybe that’s true. This is the only brother he knows -- a little brother that he has always protected and loved. They are not rivals. They hardly fight. They don’t have a lot in common. But at the end of the day, they are brothers -- and I don’t think either would be the boy he is without the other. They make each other better.


Corrie Howe said...

I love this story. What a great relationship. My son and daughter have a great relationship too.

I lost a lot of followers when I moved to an new URL. Just in case you are one, I'm at

Katie Donohue Bevins said...

Corrie -- Thank you for your kind comment. Also, thanks for the info --- I had tried to get on your site and was unable - thanks for the update.

Cinda said...

Katie, once again I have to say that your sons-both of them-will continue to add so much positive force to our world. They are both so special. And you are taking time to notice! Love them!

2SmallRedheads said...

What a sweet story. I bet that C will love being able to read about his young sweet self when he is older. :-) You notice all of the small things in life which are more often important than the big things ;-) Hope to see you soon!

2SmallRedheads said...

(um, it's Jane by the way :-) For some reason it did not show up with my name!!!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading about the interaction between your sons. The dialogue was a nice touch. Thanks for sharing it.