25 January 2009

Band of Brothers ... the Next Generation

My Life is forever better for having grown up as one of seven boys. There were some drawbacks to be sure (like hiding food so you can actually eat it later alone), but overall I would not trade my childhood with anyone else's. From a very early age you know that life is not about you; at a minimum life is 1/7th about you, and even that fraction would be stretching it.

Being one of the youngest (there's 16 years b/n me and the oldest), I would get a bit more attention from the parents as the years rolled on and the older boys moved out. Although all of us boys adore our mom, my fondest memories of my early years all involve my brothers.

It's kind of odd, but I don't remember my mom ever sitting me down and reading to me. I honestly can't recall a single book that I read with my mom, though I'm sure there must have been at least one. The home life didn't involve the mind so much as the body.

Early years in our house were about the "hunt." My little brother and I were constantly on the prowl for toys that were available to play with, or even better, older brothers to tag along with. As a result of my early tutelage I learned how to play baseball (hardball, not tee-ball); shoot a BB-gun; throw a football; light a firecracker; ride a bike (launching myself off monster jumps); how to expertly use my older brother Jim's slingshot to hail rock projectiles at the neighbor kids hiding behind the railroad ties in the yard; how to light a match with one hand (every 8 yr-old needs to know this); when to fake cry when caught red-handed trying to light the cat on fire; when to pout when the Malibu Sheriff's office saves you and your little brother from imminent landslide death; and how to courageously become fodder for the older kids' experiments which might involve being dragged behind their ten-speeds on your big-wheel at mach speeds, all-the-while screaming in sheer terror and absolute delight ... until you flipped-over in the street and scraped off half of your elbow with gravel embedded in your shin, chin, and ear canal. Good times.

Toys were often hand-me-downs, with an occasional used bike for Christmas. But, the best times were always being with my little brother who was 18 mos. my junior. We did everything together for about 12 years straight, and then only then were we separated by his untimely visit to a juvenile hall facility up by Lake Tahoe. Not so good times, but I wouldn't change any of them for all of the Lee's, knees and tea in China.

And, now my boys are growing up in a household of boys like their old man (they have a half-brother from their mom's new marriage). They see what it's like to love/hate the guy who takes 1/3 of the cookies, tv time, and attention away from you. It's quite a surreal thing to watch what goes around to come around. They have me to help guide them in their fights and quest for the perfect day (which may or may not involve their brother, though it usually does).

BB-guns are big for them right now. Sunday afternoon hikes into the Santa Monica Mountains with their cousin Ryan, BB-guns slung across their shoulders marching to the top of a hill in regimental form. They crawl on their bellies and shoot ancient bottles hidden like enemy positions in the chaparral. Days wind down with karate battles on dad's bed that often end in one of them falling off to a nasty thud, and then eventual laughter. There is always, for our little crew, time for books. The boys, especially the older, plow through one or two books weekly. And, not Dick and Jane, but Harry and Erragon. Waaay more advanced reads than I ever was brave enough to attempt, with 5x the number of pages.

important for me, however, is to instill in my boys how to be gracious to each other. It's taken me and their uncles a lifetime of learning this. I hope they give each other the benefit of the doubt, learn to forgive quickly, and hone a sense of "I got your back and will kick someone's ass if you need me to." They can fight with each other b/c iron sharpens iron, as long as they move back to play and loving the other guy with alacrity. When I see these two guys playing together, I am taken back 20 years in my folk's backyard with my little brother. A band of brothers is not easily broken, whether that band be seven or two.


Anonymous said...


Good read. Liking your blog, "Mr. Famous". Great pics too. It's clear you haven't gained much weight since the taking of your family picture ..... NOT!


Kirti said...

I just have one and find him a handful...God bless your mother!

JGregg said...

Yeah, she is a saint and is enjoying her dotage. Having dinner and excellent wine with her and my dad tomorrow night (they have become wine connoisseurs spending their children's inheritance!).

Anonymous said...

Well, hopefully one of you lives down the hideous baby-blue suit!

FatScribe said...

Don't I know it! Unfortunately, that John Travolta suit lead to further sartorial (and financial) abuses.

Now, even though Filene's Basement and Nordstrom Rack help to ameliorate the cost side of men's fashion, they can never make up for a man's lack of fashion sense.