Earlier this week the little guys and myself were on our mecca to Target to gather supplies for our block party this weekend. The sun was dancing across the lake’s surface as the boys played peek a boo with one another, and I was thinking of how lucky 2.0 is to have such a loving big brother. As this thought struck me, an old fashioned hearse drove past us. Granted, I see hearses several times a week because of our proximity to a large cemetery, but this one caught my attention. It looked almost exactly like one of my pinewood derby cars my dad had made for me as a child.
That probably seems macabre for a six year old girl to want her pinewood derby car to be a hearse. However, genetics aside, my dad and I share a dry, odd sense of humor, and we both thought this was a great design for my Awanas derby race. He painted it black with silver windows and gave it a glossy sheen, even going so far as to draw little feet prints on the back window. I remember that year my older brother’s pinewood derby car had a traditional wedge shape. Our dad had painted it red with yellow detailing, possibly flames or lightning bolts. One of the endless benefits of having a dad with world class paining talents is that our pinewood derby cars always looked fantastic (he really is incredibly talented. I’ve seen his cars featured in car shows. People travel from Florida to Tennessee to have him do their Vipers.).
I was pulled back into the present by nearly identical peals of laughter in my backseat. Their voices and faces, so similar, are shared by the sibling relationship my brother and I have. And as much as he and I tend to see black and white, we have so many differences as well. This made me wonder how different my own boys will be from one another, and how they’ll grow together into adulthood. Will they have similar temperaments, or will they continue on the paths their personalities are already on, diverging from one another? Mini Gwinn exhibited control and restraint at such an early age, remaining content and contained even now. 2.0 is a ticking time bomb, waiting to explode the moment something goes amiss.
My hearse didn’t place that year. My brother’s race car went on to the finals. The year before, my school bus hadn’t done so well, either. But the next year, my milk jug car placed second overall, surpassing my brother’s. Looking back to that age, my dad let loose the reins and gave me freedom to be myself. That’s something I can forever say about him- he never pushed for me to be anything else (except during the crayon incident). I hope I have that same strength as a parent to my guys, to give them the room to be themselves, even if it doesn’t always fit into my narrow picture.