Sometime it really is the small things that make us the happiest. I don't know if I believe that the best things in life are free, because I am a materialistic shopaholic and proud of it, but in this case it was $12.99 puzzle purchased for Evan as a Valentines Day gift. It's just a little jungle puzzle with zebra, giraffes, elephants and the like. And actually it wasn't really the puzzle, it was the act of doing the puzzle. And it wasn't me that was doing the puzzle, or even the fact that Evan was doing the puzzle. It was Zack and Evan doing the puzzle together.
For those of you who do not know the continuing saga of the Kargas brothers, let me provide a little back history. Like most mothers I was very excited about the prospect of giving my oldest child a sibling. I anticipated that there would be a period of adjustment and that at 2.5 and accustomed to being the center of our little universe, Zachary may be a little weary about greeting his baby brother. We did everything we could think of in order to prepare our eldest for Evan's arrival. We read books "I'm a Big Brother!", we pointed out other babies "look Zack, Quinn is a big brother too!" We transitioned Zack out of the nursery and into a brand new big-boy bedroom, and my mother bought him a baby doll.
On June 12th, 2008 Zachary visited his new brother in the hospital. He arrived with a yellow rose for mommy, and he received a "present" from his new brother. He posed for a few pictures and then headed out of town with this grandparents for a few days to give mommy some time to recover from surgery and bond with the baby.
For the first six months Zack pretty much ignored our bundle of joy. Occasionally he would fetch a diaper for me or informed us that the baby was crying, more out of frustration than any actual concern for his little brother.
Then things changed, and it wasn't pretty. Words like "hate" and "stupid" were thrown around, every day for weeks I would pick Zack up from preschool and find him holding a bag of urine soaked clothing, another accident. Big brother started fantasizing about leaving Evan alone (in a rain storm) in Africa, or abandoning him on a mountain top.
All around me I saw older siblings protecting the family baby. Giving kisses and playing the role of parent to the infant. Not my kid. I didn't see a glimpse of kindness, for honestly, over a year. People kept reassuring me that it was a phase, that surely Zack would grow out of it, but I started to worry. Where had we gone wrong? Was I raising a heartless little boy?
Then, by some miracle things did start to change. It has been a slow process. Rather than saying he hated Evan, Zachary simply started telling me that he didn't love him. Rather than screaming any item Evan approached one of his toys, he started to share them. Eventually over the last two months, the boys have actually begun playing together, usually it involves Zachary shouting "Chase me!" while Evan stumbles behind his big brother giggling wildly.
And then... the puzzle. It was yesterday morning, and I was being lazy, drinking coffee, reading my email. I casually asked Zachary if he wanted to help Evan with his puzzle, so I could have a few more precious moments with my beloved Facebook. Zachary answered "Sure!" with actual enthusiasm. He sat down with Evan and started playing the role of big brother. "Evan, where does the zebra go?" he would ask in a sing-song voice handing him the zebra piece. "Great job! You did it!" he praised as Evan placed the Zebra in the correct location. Evan beamed. The praise of his older brother a well received surprise.
This went on for a good ten minutes. My heart melted. I abandoned Facebook and just watched. This, this is what I had been waiting for. This ten minutes felt better than I had even imagined. There they were . Brothers.