- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 14, 2000

One of my favorite movie scenes is the one in "Parenthood" where Steve Martin is daydreaming about the future of one of his sons. First he pictures his son receiving some sort of huge, prestigious award, like a Nobel Prize, and givingthe credit to his parents. Steve Martin smiles.
Then he fantasizes about the other side of the coin, where his son is some sort of University of Texas tower sniper and the police run up to him, dodging bullets the entire way, to get him to talk his son down.
I have that daydream all the time now, except it's in stereo. I look at Sean and Jeremy when they're in their lovey-dovey Castor and Pollux mode, which is to say 99 percent of the time, and I think, "Yes, this is the way it will always be. This is the reason we wanted two boys or two girls, so we could have children who were each other's best friends, confidants, shoulders to lean on after Lisa and I have passed on."
But the Texas tower scene is never that far away. I think about it every time I watch a rerun of "Wings," the late, great sitcom that featured two polar-opposite brothers who were frequently at each other's throats. Or any of the hundred or so bickering-brother movies and TV shows. Sibling rivalry is a tireless theme dating back to Cain and Abel, and has been played for laughs and mined for tears countless times since.
It's a roll of the dice, I learned recently when I did a Family Times cover story on sibling rivalry. You can work and sweat and pray all you want, but sometimes you get brothers and sisters who are as close as can be, and sometimes you get Cain and Abel. It's genetics intersecting with environment, stirred with a generous portion of parenting styles and birth order (another fascinating cover story I did).
Still, it was a dice roll Lisa and I were willing to take from the moment we walked down the aisle five years ago. Both of us wanted children, preferably more than one. We liked the idea of our children having each other around for support, comfort and friendship once we passed away.
I wish I could bottle these times now and put them in a vault somewhere for the nitpicking and one-upmanship Sean and Jeremy will inevitably face. They are the centers of each other's universe most of the time. Nobody can light up Jeremy's face like Sean. Nobody can elicit gales of belly laughter from Jeremy the way Sean can.
And Sean doesn't want to go anywhere without Jeremy. A trip around the corner to the post office? "Is Jeremy coming?" A walk around the block? "Let's take Jeremy." A trip upstairs to give Jeremy a bath? "I want to help."
We're in the process now of trying to teach Jeremy to roll over. We put the lesson on hold because Jeremy had this bit of reflux action going on for a few months, and we still harbor the dream of selling our house one day with carpets all one color.
Jeremy lies on his ample belly, and just like Sean did when he was learning to crawl, tucks his arms into his sides like he's being shot out of a cannon, rendering them completely useless. Sean lies down on his stomach, his face inches from Jeremy's, and grunts and groans right along with him.
"Come on, buddy," he says, mimicking me. "You can do it, Jeremy. Come on."
One day, hopefully, this scene will move onto a Little League baseball field. Or a soccer field. Or a science fair project. Will Sean and Jeremy always be each other's No. 1 fan and cheerleader?
"I wonder how long they'll be like this," I remarked to Lisa one night while we watched Jeremy sway back in forth with mirth at Sean's antics.
"Probably until Sean starts going to school and making friends, and Jeremy starts walking," Lisa said. "Then he'll probably start becoming a nuisance like all little brothers."
And maybe it won't even be that long. The other day, I peeked around the corner of the kitchen into the living room, where Jeremy was rocking back and forth in his Exersaucer and Sean, as usual, was buzzing around him like a fly.
I watched as Sean pushed his face close to Jeremy's, just inches apart. Jeremy smiled and rocked away. Sean maneuvered around so their faces practically touched again.
This procedure repeated two or three more times before Jeremy finally reached out with a little hand and tried to grab Sean's nose. He missed and ended up inadvertently digging his fingernails into Sean's cheek.
Instantly Sean ran into the kitchen to report, "Daddy, Jeremy scratched me."
Ahhh, let the bickering begin.
Mark Stewart is the father of two boys, Sean and Jeremy. He is a staff writer for the Family Times. He can be reached at stewar@twtmail.com.


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