Brothers by Chance, Friends by Choice

Brothers by Chance, Friends by Choice

From Chicken Soup for the Latter-day Saint Soul

Brothers by Chance, Friends by Choice

And the Lord said unto Cain, “Where is Abel thy brother?” And he said, “I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Gen. 4:9

Being a stay-at-home mother of three children brings me daily trials, but the joys I experience each day more than make up for those trials. Our two oldest children— three-year-old Levi and two-year-old Carsen—can sometimes be quite a handful. They do occasionally fight, more so as they get older, but most often they are the best of friends. Together, they can come up with some mischievous ideas—and when they do, it’s guaranteed that they will double-team me and cover up for each other.

One day as I was changing Lissy’s diaper, things got unnaturally quiet. I quickly finished, and as I started back to check on the two boys, I heard Levi yell, “Come on, Carsen—run! Quick, RUN!” With that, they were off, giggling all the way! I knew I was in for a special treat.

Reluctantly, I went to check out the damage. To my pleasure, I found that Christmas had come early! The room was literally white. Those two monkeys had ripped what seemed like a dozen rolls of toilet paper into tiny pieces and had strewn them all over the living room floor, couches, piano and entertainment center. They even managed to somehow get toilet paper “flakes” at the very top of my artificial tree. How those two little boys planned and carried out that brilliant plan, complete with all its “tiny” details, in such a short time is still a mystery to me.

I try to overlook most of their joint mischief, telling myself that I’m so glad they are playing together instead of fighting. We have a specific quote we use to describe their relationship: “Brothers by chance, best friends by choice.” Levi and Carsen can entertain each other for hours wrestling, building forts and fighting off the bad guys in their superhero outfits. Every morning they snuggle up under a blanket with their arms around each other to watch cartoons and drink their sippy cups of milk. On Sunday mornings, their favorite cartoon is “Nephi and the Boat”—Nephi has always been Levi’s favorite Book of Mormon hero!

I used to worry about the boys watching how cruel Laman and Lemuel were to their younger brother Nephi. But after constant repetition I learned that I had succeeded in teaching my children that “hands are for loving.” While watching Nephi being struck with sticks, Levi often explains to us that “They’re being naughty. It’s not nice to hit.” Sometimes he gets really worked up and starts to yell at Laman and Lemuel, trying to persuade them to stop and telling them, “Hands are for loving!”

Being two years old, Carsen naturally takes what he wants, when he wants it. Levi has always been so patient with his younger brother, calmly explaining in a sweet voice, “We don’t take toys away.” Sometimes he is a peacemaker, giving Carsen what he wants and finding something else to play with. And, of course, he likes to remind Carsen that his “hands are for loving.”

One summer day, Levi was invited to play at the house of Todd, an older friend who had no younger brothers or sisters. From experience, we knew that Todd didn’t get along with Carsen, so when Levi asked if Carsen was going, too, I understandably told him no. He immediately pleaded, “But, Mom, it’s just no fun without a brother!” My heart was deeply touched to see their bond as brothers, and I was saddened to separate them for even a few hours. I gently explained, “Levi, Todd yells at Carsen and hits him; he doesn’t understand that he is just a little boy who doesn’t yet know how to share. We don’t want Carsen to get hurt—so when he is older, he can come, too.”

Levi’s eyes lit up with fire. He stood a little taller, stuck his chest out, pointed his finger, and in an intimidating voice said, “Mom, don’t worry—if Todd tries to hit Carsen, I will protect him. I will just tell Todd, ‘Don’t touch him: I am filled with the power of God!’” I was speechless! He was absolutely serious, and it was all I could do to keep a straight face. I always wondered if those Book of Mormon movies were sinking in. Now I am positive that they were—and that my boys even know how to apply those Book of Mormon lessons in their daily lives!

April Homer

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