“I hate you!” I hear one brother mutter to another in the backseat.
I gasp dramatically and pull the car over. I put on my emergency flashers for our safety, but also because I’ve told the boys that if a police officer drives by and wonders what’s happening, I will tell him the children in my car are so unruly right now that it was dangerous for me to continue driving until they can remember the rules and obey.
I twisted myself in their direction and gave some profound and lengthy speech about what ‘hate’ really is, how it’s an ugly word that we will not use with each other, and I demand that they never say it again. I say all of this even with the clear memory of a day my brother and I shouted such hatred at each other. And yet we have grown up to be contributing members of society, and we like each other, even.
“Tucker, say three things you like about Tyler. Go.”
“I like it when you play football with me, and when you play baseball, and when you play basketball with me.”
Tyler knows his strengths, and he knows what does not interest him even slightly. He said, “Too bad I don’t do any of those things with you, ever. Try again.”
“I like it when you brush your teeth and when you do your homework.”
I disagreed with this one. “Seriously, Tuck? Teeth and homework? Think of something that is genuinely true about him. Not something he does for you or something he does because he is required.”
Tyler offers a suggestion. “I’m very creative.”
“I like that you’re creative.”
“And I’m good at building with Legos.”
“I like when you build with Legos.”
“And…” even Tyler is struggling to come up with a third quality abut himself off the top of his head.
I can help with this. “And he is very kind and funny.”
Tucker affirms. “Yes. That.”
So effective, these conversations.