They are the same person, in two different-sized bodies, born a generation apart. They might have been twins, had they not been father and son. They are my husband and our youngest.
They share similar personalities as well as a sharp sense of humor, affection for storytelling, tendency for voicing strong opinions, a love of debate and an unwillingness to back down from a disagreement (especially with each other). They are information gatherers, knowledge sponges, trivia fact hunting hounds and conspiracy theorists.
Now that our nest is thinning, I find myself spending more time with just the two of them – an introvert sandwiched between two extroverts. Heaven help me.
This weekend, we did a little yard work. There were a number of branches littering the sidewalk in front of the house and my husband called upon our boys to help pick them up. It was a reasonable request.
The two older boys went to work. My husband and youngest son proceeded to bicker — about anything and everything one can find to bicker about related to sticks on the sidewalk. They disagreed on stick gathering technique and how many sticks should be gathered in one armload. Whether gloves were a necessity or hindrance. About the proper way to transport sticks and the best place to put the sticks after they were removed from the sidewalk. Whether the sticks would make good kindling. Where the sticks came from. If a stick fell on the sidewalk and no one was around, would it make a sound? And so on. So many sticks so little time.
This happens all the time. Sometimes I think they’ll drive me bonkers. Sometimes I think they already have. I plead with them to stop. But they enjoy themselves too much to heed my requests. Simply put, their bickering is a game they love to play and to which I’m not privy to the rules or enjoyment factor.
On other days, the situation is completely the opposite. They are the best of buds with the same viewpoints and expressions and opinions on everything from fantasy football draft picks to the best fast food French fries to the fundamentals of politics. They feed off each other’s energy no matter what the topic.
They were born with curious minds and fire off questions like they are conducting an interrogation.
All the verbalizations floating in the air only serve to make me feel unsettled and unable to focus. When my son attempts to grill me in such a manner (and he does), I can’t keep up. “One question at a time,” I say. “Mom needs to think.”
My husband and son are peas in a pod or dueling banjos — depending on the day. They debate and dispute and discuss and deliberate and I’m not sure which of them enjoys himself more. As for me, I’m like the creamy center of an Oreo — stuck in the middle playing either the role of odd mom out or referee.
It can be dizzying, but despite my complaints, I’m sandwiched between two of my favorite cookies. I’ve got my own double stuff, and it’s pretty sweet.