The steps creak a little more each day as Thing1 descends from his bastion on the upper bunk. He’s been taller than his mother for a year now, and, even though he enjoys sizing up the difference every time we pass in the hall, I am getting used to looking up at someone I used to carry around in a Snugli. It’s strange feeling, and a few weeks ago, I realized that Thing1, evoking a decidedly impish quality, didn’t really suit him anymore.
I’ve been using nicknames for my kids and husband since this blog’s inception. My six foot six husband is the Big Guy. My twelve and six-year-old boys are known as Thing1 and Thing2 (or SuperDude if he’s wearing his cape and wig), respectively.
My decision to use nicknames was not so much to safeguard their internet safety – very little is private anymore now – but more the result of the feeling that, especially with the kids, I had the right to tell our stories but not the right to opt in the use of their real names until they were old enough to make that decision themselves. The result has been a mostly illustrated blog (the few photos of the kids are usually old enough to prevent easy recognition by anyone but the people who already know them), and I’ve been happy with it. Now, however, as I’ve been searching for a new, more appropriate nickname for the gentle giant that roams our house, I realize that part of the motivation for the original nickname was my denial that he is growing up.
There is still a bit of the imp in him, but middle school and the discovery that a world lies outside Minister Hill have made him serious. When the imp is revealed, Thing2 is often the inspiration and the provocation. Like any good younger brother, Thing2 carries around a bit of loving hero worship for his big brother. Most afternoons he expresses his love by snuggling up to his older brother, but there are times when love hurts.
Sometimes inspired by boredom, sometimes by that most flattering of desires – to imitate his older brother in every possible way – Thing2 will sidle up to Thing1 at his desk or on the couch. He’ll work to inhabit the space with his brother. Then he’ll ask to play whatever Thing1 is playing, listen to whatever song Thing1 has blasting, or watch whatever show Thing1 thought was great last night but couldn’t care less about this afternoon. He is dogged in his admiration, and, when Thing1, in the time-honored tradition of surly preteens everywhere, ignores the initial overtures, Thing2 finds a plan B.
Snuggling becomes poking. Then poking becomes climbing, and sometimes the climbing hurts. Thing2’s faith that Thing1 would never hurt him is stronger David’s in a God that would guide his slingshot was. For the most part his faith is well-placed. Unlike the ancient Goliath, when our giant needs a lot of needling before he responds in kind. Sometimes the giant will lose his temper, but he rarely loses his cool.
Lately he’s been taking on more grown-up chores around the house. He’s attentive and responsive when we need a quick favor. Naturally, I see him through my maternal bias, but as I watch the imp becoming a man, I’ve decided it’s time for someone to get a new nickname and rehabilitate the name Goliath.