When sibling rivalry takes a bizarre turn.
I don’t even know what started it. All I know is that there was a spoon slammed angrily on the table, and my six-year-old standing suddenly, leaning way across his cereal bowl in an attempt to put his face in his older brother’s face.
“You do the funny. I do the weird, got it? Don’t try to be butting into my weird,” this was said forcefully, but not violently, with an air of grim certainty. Then a snort, and a quiet return to cereal eating.
I looked at my seven year old, the “funny one,” in amazement. I’d missed the lead up to the outburst, and hoped for a brief recap. Some context. Nothing. The Funny One was just chewing his cereal, eyes on his bowl. If he’d heard The Weird One’s dictate, he gave no indication.
Later that day, I said to the Funny One, “That was pretty amusing what happened at breakfast. About how you’re the funny one, and your brother is the weird one.” The Funny One looked at me, not following.
“He said what?” clearly the Zen-like response at breakfast had been the result of momentary deafness. “He said what? He doesn’t get to be the boss of weird. He doesn’t get to control my weird.” The Funny One was agitated now, and I was deeply regretting bringing it up.
And that’s what precipitated the Great Weird Off of 2014. Through some unspoken rivalry, the two middle boys tried out weirding each other. One showed up to lunch with a tin foil hat on, and when questioned, would only respond with, “.”
The other one walked up to me with a clipboard in hand. I noted vaguely that he was wearing jeans, and a jean jacket, buttoned up to his chin. “Mommy? I need you to sew me a couple things,” Jeans boy said very seriously.
“You do?” I spotted a giant pair of aviator sunglasses peeking out of the jean jacket pocket.
“Yes. As you can see, I have on denim pants and a denim jacket. I need you to sew me a denim cape, denim shoes, and denim underwear.”
“… denim underwear?” I said faintly. He nodded, consulting his clipboard.
“Denim underwear. Because once you’ve completed that, I can be Denim Man.” From somewhere in the house, the Other Weird One let out a cry of protest.
“DENIM MAN WAS MY IDEA! YOU’RE STEALING MY IDEA!” The sound of feet running down the stairs. The Weirdo in front of me flipped his clipboard around so I could see the artistic rendering of Jeans Man, resplendent in a denim cape, flying through the air. He quickly clutched the clipboard to his chest and tore off, just as his brother rounded the corner, panting.
“Where is he? Where is the IDEA STEALER?” I noted that my son’s tin foil hat was slightly askew. The back door slammed shut, and my son tore off toward the sound, in hot pursuit of his brother.
They both appeared on the front yard, running after each other. I noted that they’d let one of the dogs out, who was now joyfully leaping after them, attempting to trip them.
I grabbed a cup of coffee and settled on the couch, watching the epic battle unfold outside: Tin Foil Hat Man vs. Denim Man, with the bragging rights for resident weirdo at stake.
Little did they know that the matter was already settled, for who is more weird? The weirdo, or the woman who mothers the weirdo?
Cari Donaldson is the author of Pope Awesome and Other Stories: How I Found God, Had Kids, and Lived to Tell the Tale. She married her high school sweetheart, had six children with him, and now spends her days homeschooling, writing, and figuring out how to stay one step ahead of her child army. She blogs about faith and family life at clan-donaldson.com.