Today we received the news that our expected grandchild is going to be a boy. I can’t speak for his parents, but my wife and I are extremely excited. We would be no more or less excited had the news revealed a girl. I have experience with girls. My experience with boys is limited to me being one a long time ago, before I grew up, and I am sure this little boy’s parents would not appreciate me encouraging the behavior I exhibited as a boy. I am certain the boy would be grounded before he was born, and for many years after. My daughter and her husband are going to be the parents of two boys. Our older grandson is nearly six, and I have it under good authority he is reasonably excited to be a big brother. For these young gentlemen, I have a few words of wisdom.
You are going to be brothers. You are also going to be allies, compadres and best friends. You will be called “The Gruesome Twosome” and you will have each other’s backs until you are grown men and probably even after that. You will fight like cats and dogs, occasionally coming to blows. You will draw blood and give bruises, but at the end of the day, you will be the only one the other can truly rely on. There will be charlie horses and noogies. There will be blanket forts and play fights. There will be secrets and vows and there is always that one thing you won’t tell Mom, even when you have kids of your own. You are Butch and Sundance, Lone Ranger and Tonto — but also Abbott and Costello. Your bond will be as strong as strong can be, even when you go your own directions.
Be friends always. Even when your personalities differ, be friends. If one of you is more popular than the other, remember who is always there when friendship eventually fades. Never let a girl come between you, because when you are old and gray, you won’t remember her name or why she was that great after all. End every day with a handshake. It doesn’t matter if you broke your brother’s toy or he got one more French fry than you, end the day as gentlemen. It’s the right thing to do. When one of you is down, bring him up. Make your brother feel important and worthy when he doesn’t and he will make sure he does the same for you. When life takes you in different directions, one of you will be doing well at some point and one of you won’t. It always flip flops, so wait your turn and never gloat. Keep in mind that when he is not doing well, he will be soon and you’ll be the one who needs encouragement that all will be well. Neither of you is better than the other, but together you are unstoppable.
Treat your parents with respect and dignity. These are the people who have put aside 18 years of their lives to help mold yours. Be grateful and thank them whenever you can. When you think you have thanked them enough, thank them a little more. It never hurts to thank anyone too much. Be polite and kind. Do what your parents ask of you. They will never ask more of you than they think you can handle. They will never ask of you what they have not done themselves and still would do. Be kind to others, even if they are not kind to you. Always be the better person. Always strive for excellence and settle for no less.
To you, gentlemen, the world is yours. Read books. Go places. Do things. Meet people and let people meet you. Fly in planes, sail on ships. See the sun set and rise on prairies, beaches and in cities. Your limits are set only by your imaginations. Individually, you can accomplish some. Together, men, you can accomplish all.
Baltimore native Joe Weaver is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he writes on the lighter side of family life.