Swim Camp By the Numbers
An Annotated Guide to the Perfect Home Office

The Cacophony of Brothers

"Noah hurt-ed me!"

"STOPIT Ezra!"

"Ikey TOOK. MY. TOY!"

"Mo-o-om, make Ezra stop looking at me, okay?"

"You're not NICE, Noah!"

"IKE! NO!"

*assorted frenzied shrieking*

*and etcetera*

They fight over toys, they vie for position and space. They kick each other under the table and careen around the house like out-of-control bumper cars. They want what HE has, until they get it. We have to keep track over who got out of the bath first last time, who got to sit next to the faucet, who got to choose the night's TV show, even though it doesn't really matter: whoever's turn it isn't that night will inevitably protest that it's NOT FAIR. Everything's a race, even when it totally isn't. Even hugs will eventually give way to tumbles and shrieks and accusations of injury. Ike's learned how to hit, thanks to his brothers, and yet they turn to me with shock and fury when it happens, as if I'm the one at fault. Did I not SEE THAT? Am I not going to DO SOMETHING? 


I wonder what their relationships will be like when they're older. If they'll be close or strained or just so fundamentally different or geographically scattered that a distance will form, nobody's fault, but it is what it is. Will they remember the fighting or the unfairness of who got to sit next to the faucet; will they view each other as spoiled or favored or mean? 

I hope they will be friends, obviously. I hope they will be close and be there for each other, especially when I can't. 


In between the squabbles and the HE TOUCHED MEs, I can see it — a strong yet gentle loyalty that unites them, occasionally against me, occasionally just because they are being quiet enough to let the affection bubble to the surface. I catch Noah reading them a story, or getting everyone a snack, patiently opening wrappers and inserting straws into juice boxes. Ezra and Ike staging elaborate picnic after picnic in the playroom. Everyone huddled under a throw blanket to watch a movie, or sharing their dessert with someone who lost that privilege, silently, without a word.

And Ezra, at the window, every afternoon, waiting for Noah to come home. 




that last picture! so sweet


Oh that last picture got me. Crying on my commute!

Elisabet M

They are so sweet! It sounds like they are already best friends. And - after raising two boys - I think it's a good thing when they unite against you (but not in a homicidal way or anything!) because that shows how bonded they are to each other and that they are developing their relationships together. I can't remember where I read that, but I think it's true. And yes, my boys rocketed around the house and caused utter chaos, too. It's just kids!

Hi, I'm Natalie.

Way to make me CRY on my last day of mat leave!! So sweet. :)


Found your blog via HuffPost. Am thrilled to be a new reader & can't wait to check out the archives!!


This is so much a description of my kids. Best of friends and most competitive children, ever.

Also, what movie are they watching with big eyes?!


That picture of Ezra makes my heart melt! I bet these are the posts that will transport you when the boys are much older and the house is so much quieter <3


I wonder the same thing about my two girls (8&4)... I dread every fight because I want, so very very badly, for them to grow up and know they have the other, when they don't have me anymore. I would die, in my soul, if they lost each other.


I'm usually waaaay too lazy to actually leave feedly and comment, but that was beautiful.

Now stop it. I'm serious. The husband and I decided a while ago that we were good with just one kid but you and your adorable hellions are BREAKING MY RESOLVE.


I love this so much! I have two boys who are exactly this way. They wrestle and fight and battle almost constantly, but they miss eachother when they're apart. Melts my heart.


I have 3 boys who are separated by 19 and 20 month spaces -- they are now 21, 23 & 24. I enjoy your blog so much as it brings back such wonderful memories. They were EXACTLY like your 3 at that age - wild, out of control, full of energy, competitive and oh lordy the fighting!! I was sure at times that I would never ever be able to leave them alone together or one wouldn't survive. We then went through some crazy teen years...well I won't scare you about that. Now all three are well on their way, and are so so close; it's a wonderful relationship. They are spaced out geographically -- 2 are a four hour drive apart, one is a 4 hour plane ride away but are constantly in contact by text and phone. They camp together, go to concerts together and look out for each other. One of the 3 (yup the middle one) isn't the most communicative and is the one I worry most about but the other two keep an eye on him and keep mom updated. By the way I raised them on their own from a very young age and often didn't think I would survive. But believe it or not it's true what 'they' say; these are the best years so try to treasure the moments. And when they grow up they will be each others best friends.

Jessica V.

Oh yes - this is my house too. I have 2 boys (8 and 4.5) and their relationship is similar to your boys'. On a recent vacation - they would get up together in the morning and tag team going to the bathroom and then "sneaking" (like a herd of elephants) into our room to snag their iPads so they could play quietly while my husband and I slept a bit longer. Of course, before long, the arguing would start, but the times that they were united in play were so sweet to hear. I hope it is always this way.


So sweet!!! Especially love the picture of Ezra waiting by the window for Noah!


@sharon The Fox & the Hound. A very regrettable choice. They all claimed to love it but OH MY GOD, IT'S SO DARK AND SAD. I'd completely blocked it out.


I feel the same way about my three (though my third is a girl). Same ages as yours. The endless bickering and competing, especially now that summer is here and no one is at school! Love love love the photo of the three on the couch. So sweet!


You mean....girls AREN'T like this??


That picture of Ezra waiting for Noah...I have no words!


That pic of Ezra is awesome.


We have a firsts rule in our house. Each day it rotates...kid 1, kid 2, kid 1, kid 2, etc. That child is the first to everything that day from taking a shower, to reading a book (with Mom), to getting tucked in, to picking what show to watch on TV, what video game they play, etc. Got it from friend's of ours who had it posted on a calendar so there was no questioning of who got firsts that day. Works really good in our house.


Why you gotta go and make me cry all the time Amy? We've recently started talking about maybe want 3 kids (we just have one for now). I've always been a little afraid of being outnumbered as a parent, but also as the middle of three I kinda just want my kids to have more than one sibling


Oh, that last photo? That's what it's all about, the loyalty and love (amid the kicks, punches and screams). I used to think as the parent I was in charge of how my kids wound up, if they were close or not. I don't believe that anymore (unless they wind up pedophiles or murderers. I'ma need to own up to that shit because DIDN'T I SEE SIGNS?). I can instill the desire for them to be close. I can instill the common sense that that is how it should be. I can foster the togetherness that would normally lead to closeness in adulthood. But? I can't necessarily keep my kids from maybe being assholes. (Well, to an extent, you know?) I do worry because my sisters and I weren't close UNTIL adulthood. I don't want my kids to miss out on sibling love (or hell, even the rivalry. Builds character. Like public school and that one bad night of drinking that makes you say never again EXCEPT THAT'S A LIE, WE ALL KNOW IT).

The desire to have everything turn out ok for the humans I've produced? Shit be overwhelming, yo.


Mine are older and I still fight, but they always have each other's backs, no matter what. I watched as they spread across each other on the couch to watch movies last night, and my heart sighed with happiness. It's always a bit of a gamble, but I'm a firm believer that if we teach love, we will most likely see love in the end :) (and sometimes love is a hit or a poke or a tumble)


Siblings fight. Girls or boys. The real problem is when you have an odd number of children, it makes the fights uneven. (I have three myself, so I don't walk the walk). But I think you definitely should give some thought to a fourth child, just because the three you have already are so awesome.


Thank you for this. Mine are 5 and 15 months and some days are so chaotic that I wonder what the hell we got ourselves into by having another. But sometimes they're so cute that I actually want a third.

Maxine Dangerous

So sweet!!


Yes! Yes! Yes! I have 2 boys who are 7 & 5 1/2 who don't remember being without the other. I loved this.



Becca Lynn

If this doesn't perfectly sum up siblings, I don't know what does.

I am now misty-eyed. My brothers and I were JUST like that, and we've drifted apart. We were just too different, at different points in our lives. Now we're becoming closer and even still, I know that my brothers are my brothers and, though as mightily flawed as they may be, I am lucky to have them. You're doing an awesome job, Amy. :-)


When the three boys I nannied for were younger, we solved most of the squabbling over fairness by assigning days to each child. Each month we filled out a calendar, so Monday was Tom's day, Tuesday was Joe's day, Wednesday was Greg's day, and repeat. If it was your day you got to get out of the tub first, pick the show, choose the snack etc. It really worked well for us - maybe something to consider if you haven't already?


I nominate this for best.post.ever. I have three kids and that's all I'm going to say 'cuz it bugs me when people tromp all over a beautiful post with their experiences. Though that's sorta why the comments are there, right? Shutting up. Just Best.Post.Ever.


I love reading about your boys. I have an identical twin and our brother is 15 months younger than us, so I can relate. I made it through the entire post and then that last sentence and picture got me. Instant tears! So good.


I'm with Noah in that picture...I would love even the world's most annoying little brother at 2 Amys!


My dad has two older brothers who are each two years apart, and they are all super close as adults. I hope for the same for your three boys. :)

Suzy Q

Ack! Why is it so dusty in here?


This makes my ovaries scream to have another baby :')


When we were kids, my sister and I fought constantly. My mother would get so frustrated with our endless bickering. One day she yelled at the top of her voice, "You girls had better learn how to get along. One day your father and I will no longer be here and your sister will be all you have left of this family!" Our parents are in their mid-seventies now; with each year that passes they grow more frail, and we are reminded of our mother's admonishment. She was right, of course. And for once, we actually listened.


My mother said we used to fight over everything, even the raisins in the Raisin Bran. Until she told us that they were dead flies. No more fighting over that.
I remember epic battles. There were 9 of us-5 boys and 4 girls. Consider the bloodshed.


this just cinched it..I am demanding another baby from my husband


Aw, sweet.

Mind a suggestion? Rotate Kid for the Day. Whoever is kftd gets to choose tv show, push the button, choose dessert, get out of the tub - whatever they fight over. Because it rotates they learn to wait, because their day is coming. And it takes the adults out of the fight and you know no longer have to remember who was first doing what.


Oh god. I'm an aunt to three who are 15, 16, and 18 whose parents are getting divorced. I can attest to the fact that they unite like nothing I've ever seen. It's beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.


So so very special the world of brothers. I wish for your boys all the same that you do.


I have to echo everyone else because EZRA...so incredibly sweet.


Yep, me too. Crying!


Awww....that last pic, she says, as she teared up....


Joining the group in saying that last picture has me tearing up.


So sweet!


So beautiful! I love this post so much.




I dated a guy once from a family of three brothers. As a kid he once convinced his younger brother to stick his hand in the wringer of one of those old-fashioned wringer washers (it broke his arm), and also once to jump off the roof holding an umbrella, Mary Poppins-stylee. They're the best of friends now though! :)


I completely understand the desire to manage/eliminate the bickering, it is annoying, irritating tiresome, tedious ... however it is also developmental. They are learning to live in a community, assert themselves, defend themselves, manage conflict - better to just minimize the bloodshed and the piling on of 2 against 1, they WILL work it all out sooner or later! One day you will smile and miss the bitter arguments of who got the bigger half of the PBJ sandwich, and wails of "It's NO FAIR!!!"

Plano Mom

Sounds like me and my siblings. And we love each other dearly now.


Nothing amazing to say...but I want another baby LIKE BAD. Thanks for sending my reproductive hormones into overdrive.

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