Being just 17 months apart in age, my sister Lucy and I were like best friends growing up. That has continued into our adulthood, and now, as grown-ups and mothers, this friendship is stronger than ever. Personality-wise, we are like chalk and cheese, but perhaps that’s why it works.
As young girls we would hatch plans to have babies at the same time in life, and speculate on how our kids would be the best of friends: siblings rather than cousins.
As fate would have it (or perhaps we inadvertently created our own fate), we found ourselves ready to procreate at the same time in life.
We both commenced an industrious effort to conceive, along with the gallant assistance of our husbands.
We fell pregnant within six months of each other, Lucy leading the way. When my gorgeous nephew Elian was born, the adoration I felt for that little boy was like nothing I had ever experienced. Six months later, I had my own beautiful little baby boy, Jenson. Our boys had a ‘brother’ each and our childhood-hatched plans had come to fruition.
Therein began the genesis of our boys’ brotherly love. From that very early age and between those tiny tots, a unique relationship started to emerge.
Only a year on, my sister gave birth to a second boy, Xander. We were all very excited by the prospect of three little boy-rascals running rings round us all, and moreover by their threefold brotherly bond.
It is fair to say that the first couple of years were a baby-blur for both of us. For Lucy, because she had two under-twos to contend with, but for me a very different reason. Since birth, Jenson had been showing an increasing number of worrying physical and developmental issues, and along with the perpetual hospital visits, I was emotionally drained. Months and months of uncertainty were followed by a diagnosis of a rare genetic disorder, which presented as many questions as it did answers.
Fast forward two years: Jenson is now approaching four years old and we are in a stable place with his health, development and schooling, albeit that he requires full time care and individualised therapy.
Now that I have provided the necessary pre-amble and set the scene, I come to the purpose of this blog, which is to pay tribute to my nephews. The fog has somewhat lifted and the optimism of life has returned, and I can reflect on the past and anticipate the future with philosophical excitement.
My two gorgeous nephews, who squabble and row, fight and squeal, tantrum and terrorise just as ordinary three and four year olds do, show an extraordinary level of compassion and gentleness towards Jenson. It is with great fondness and pride that I see the empathy that my nephews have fostered for Jenson.
My youngest nephew, who is barely into his fourth year of life, is fanatical about trains. Last week, his meticulously constructed train track, equipped with bridges, turntables, and signal boxes, met an untimely demise when Jenson decided that the pieces of track made good projectiles across the playroom. The poor little fellow suppressed his tears and set about restoring his masterpiece. Not a complaint in sight.
The three boys share a passion for vehicles; cars, bikes, scooters, trikes. Between them they possess a plethora of ride-ons. The general rule is outdoors only, however Jenson is permitted to ride his trike indoors as this provides him with an element of independent mobility. My selfless nephews seem to have an innate understanding of this exception to the rules and never show dissidence to it. Seldom do they ask for ‘their turn’ because they see how much Jenson enjoys and needs that trike.
The behaviour that we witness from these little lads is captivating and awe-inspiring. During play, snatching is eclipsed by sharing. At the dinner table, rowdy outbursts become quiet conversations. In the garden, running and wrestling is overtaken by hand-holding and helping.
They advocate for Jenson in the playground, and try to facilitate his involvement in activities that his poorly legs find arduous. They industriously try to help him learn to walk, and demonstrate clear pride in knowing that they are playing a part in Jenson’s development.
They talk to him on FaceTime even though his words are somewhat undiscernible and conversations are one-sided. They react endearingly and patiently to his insatiable demand for kisses and cuddles, which are often a little over-zealous.
Even before Elian and Xander were too young to have the situation explained to them, they subliminally and intuitively learned to alter their behaviours when in Jenson’s company. And now that they are older, they accept Jenson for exactly who he is, and have developed a level of comprehension way beyond their years. I truly believe that they do see him as a third brother, and indeed Jenson shows such adoration towards them as if they were his own brothers.
It has been an extraordinary journey, and one I feel privileged to be part of.
I am very proud of my nephews and gratified that Jenson has played a part in helping them along the path to becoming honourable and humble young men.
It’s been a joy to watch the evolution and of this pure and simple brotherly love.