Smelly Socks: Lessons learned from an older brother - and James Bond
By Johanna Bloom
Austin, my 13-year-old, displays firstborn behavior. I believe in all of the research about birth order and how it affects a child's behavior and personality.
I see most of these personality traits in my eldest child. One characteristic that strikes me as pure Austin is that he is the essence of extreme caution. To clarify, I am not referring to physical caution, - actually he is a daredevil, a pure risk taker, physically speaking.
In matters of the heart, it takes him a long time to trust someone. He has to warm up to the person before he opens his heart to them. When he finally does, he does it with complete abandon. Also, Austin has the controlling trait that most firstborns display.
In any given situation, Austin will most likely take the lead. He might lead in the right direction or often, in the wrong direction, but it will undoubtedly be in the Austin direction.
Jamison, my youngest child at 10 years old, fits the mold as the baby of the family and is a perpetual people-pleaser. The second-born usually has to fight for attention and for their voice to be heard. Jamison has taken the role of a smiling, happy, secure child who just wants everyone to be happy and get along.
His happiness wish also extends to trying keep his older brother content. Make no mistake about it, though, Jamison does like to be heard, and he knows how to raise his voice to the level in which he can't or won't be ignored.
My boys' relationship is typical, complete with inside jokes, annoyance, brotherly love and sometimes, sheer avoidance. Austin lives to assert his power and size over the younger Jamison. Jamison often gives in to Austin's whims in hopes of keeping everyone happy. But just because Jamison is a people-pleaser doesn't mean that he plays the fool. After being duped many times by Austin's jokes, Jamison has grown a little suspicious and much wiser than his 10 years reveal.
This weekend, my parents joined us for an impromptu casual dinner of "steak and whatever else we could find to go with it." Jamison, John and Popsy were manning the grill getting the steaks just perfect while I was in the kitchen getting everything else ready.
Austin decided to play the role of sous chef, complete with apron and his Crocs a la Mario Batali, and assist me in the preparation of his favorite Gouda cheese sauce.
Everything was finally ready, and I asked Austin to help me put the ice and tea in the glasses. Remembering that Jamison doesn't like iced tea and prefers water specifically with no ice, I reminded Austin to just give him plain water.
When we gathered around the table, I told Jamison to sit down in the seat where the water is. I watched as Jamison went around to each glass and looked in to see if there was tea or water in the colored glasses.
When he finally got to his glass and saw water I noticed that he immediately bent down and smelled his water, looked around suspiciously at all of the other glasses and asked, "Mom, who gave me this water?"
I replied that Austin helped me get glasses to the table. Immediately, a hint of terror filled Jamison's eyes. He smelled his glass again, raised an arched eyebrow in Austin's direction and then turned to face Austin in an all-out stare. "Um, I'm OK. I'm not thirsty."
Austin, truly mastering the art of his older brother position, had a satisfied grin spread across his face as he realized that without trying, he caused strife. "Ah, come on, Jamison. What's wrong with your plain ol' water? Why are you so suspicious? You know that your dear, sweet brother (as he placed a hand over his heart) would never do anything to your drink," Austin whispered devilishly.
I got a little annoyed with Jamison being - in my opinion - silly about his drink. I knew that Austin wouldn't have done anything to Jamison's water; he just likes to stir the pot and be in control of his younger brother. But Jamison remained intent on ogling his water glass suspiciously.
"Mom, James Bond should have smelled his vodka martini that he likes shaken and not stirred. If he would have only smelled it, then he would have realized it was poisoned. Then he wouldn't have had to stick that shot into his heart and then shock himself back to life."
I laughed as I remembered that the boys had just had a late night watching James Bond movies, and apparently, Jamison garnered some important spy wisdom.
Even though SPECTRE got the best of 007, Austin was not going to get the best of Jamison this time around. This younger brother had learned at a very early age to trust his instincts.
God gave us all instincts, and Jamison's instincts are super-charged from growing up with his older brother and watching just a little too much James Bond.
A fact that is evident from him asking me later that night, "So, can James be a nickname for Jamison? James Bond, Jamison Bloom - they are kind of similar."
Johanna is a proud seventh-generation Texan. She lives on her family's South Texas ranch with her husband and two lively boys. Email Johanna Bloom at email@example.com.