Brayden’s first words to his newborn baby brother upon arriving home from the hospital were, “Paper Towel Gage Michale, I wuv 'ew!” Followed by the biggest of smooches. The sweet, sloppy kind that only an four year old can perfect. A tender and sweet memory that I will cherish forever.
(Back story: When I was pregnant with Gage Brayden in a small fit of jealousy asked if there was anything that he was allowed to do to help with the arrival of his new baby brother. I asked him what he would like to do to which he replied that he wanted to help name the baby. He then proceeded to dub Gage with the name Paper Towel, all proud of himself because that would be the babies new name and he picked it out all by himself. For 4 months of my pregnancy and for 6 months after he was born, Brayden happily referred to his brother - despite our many attempts - as Paper Towel)
A year into this bond of brotherhood, I also admit there are a few memories that have thankfully not been memorialized. Like the snatching of toys, the subtle or not-so-subtle moments of “I want most of the attention… like right now!,” and the day that Gage realized he’s also got a touch of the family spunk after all. Actually, it was a Sesame Street remote with a little something called whopping one’s big brother upside the head.
Ah, me. I have visions of more toy snatchings, pummellings, and “But, he hurt my feelings!” to come. And that's ok because I'm it not for the loyalty. The fierce loyalty already surfaces from their little, big hearts.
Every morning, almost without fail, Gage wakes up about an hour or so before Brayden. As soon as he rolls out of bed and sleepily shuffles his way into my bedroom Gage asks me where Brayden is, still in too much of a sleep stupor to realize that his brother was in the top bunk bed fast asleep when Gage woke. This continues until I wake Brayden up so that he can get ready for school. And then once Brayden gets on the school bus at 8:08am every morning, Gage repeatedly asks for his big brother and when he'll be home until the school bus rolls back up to the front of the house at 3:45pm.
It is, however, a two sided story. When we’re out in public and someone asks Brayden for his name or strikes up a conversation with us he typically replies with, “That’s my brother, his name is Gage.” When we’re playing or driving in the car with our extended family Brayden will randomly announce, “Gage is my brother. Did you know? My brother.” And when I put Gage in a time-out of sorts for bopping Brayden, the older of the two has an immortal fit with wails of, “My brother! Don’t put him in time-out! He'll be very, very sad!”
Already they seem to get inside jokes that we don’t quite understand. When they exchange knowing kinds of smiles I’d like to think that in a way I know what they’re saying, “I get you, old friend. In fact, I don’t even remember life without you. Whether we hug or have it out, we’re in this thing together. Yep, I love you."
I’d like to think those are the kinds of smiles they’ll be giving each other from ages 0 and 4 to 80 and 84 and so on and so on.