Wednesday, October 19, 2005


If only Nixon could go to China (name that Star Trek!), then only Sam could go to Jonahland. Jonah-Sam relations have, in general, resembled Khrushchev at the UN: shoe-related violence, threats of burying, and yelling.

As usual, for the first three children, we had no idea how good we had it with respect to fraternal relationships. Timothy and Stephen get along ridiculously well. So when Jonah came along as a "difficult" (read: normal) child, his two older brothers were perfect foils for his personality.

Jonah would rumble and rage, Timothy would stay out of the way, and Stephen would (usually) bow politely to the inevitability. Like wise drivers when the gates go down, the older boys would stop and wait briefly while the train ran through.

Then came #4. (Someone we know calls our kids R1, R2, R3, and R4, or would if our last name began with an R. I've forgotten who it is, but I certainly admire their honesty.) Sam's antipathy towards Jonah is legendary. It took him 2 years to even say his immediate predecessor's name, and even still it sounds like "Unh."

Recently, however, things have been improving. I'm not sure if it's the absence of the other two boys during school hours, or if some kindred, mischievous spirit has awakened between them. The other day after lunch, I caught them playing slap-hands across the table. Both were laughing and the game ended amicably. This was a unique event.

And if friendliness is good, kindness is even better.

Jonah and Sam have been sick with runny noses, red eyes, and extreme whininess. Thankfully, no fever. I wouldn't be worried, but they have been playing a lot in that pile of dead chickens we got from China last week. (Such savings!)

Anyway, I had Sam downstairs, and Stephen and Jonah were upstairs playing with LEGO's. I asked Jonah to bring down a diaper. I heard him rummaging through the closet, apparently looking for something. Before I could yell at him to hurry up (it stank downstairs!), I heard him telling Stephen, "Make sure you get an Elmo one. Sam likes Elmo." I heard Stephen going through them, "Bert, Cookie Monster, Bert, Elmo!"

Jonah? Being sweet to Sam? The Thaw begins. What's next? Sam being nice to Jonah?

Not quite yet. Tonight, outside at dinner (we had chili and cornbread, the latter of which has been banned from inside consumption) Jonah brought over one of their plastic "roller skates" and showed me the spider webs inside. I told him to go get a stick to clean them out. He came back with one about 4 feet long and 2 inches thick, but not before Sam had snatched the skate and run off through the yard, shrieking.

What this family needs is a Ronald Reagan.


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