The distance between them is a mix of years and meters, measures in degrees of space and sound and time. Two boys joined at the bloodline, bound by fate and floor plans, my sons have shared a bedroom from the beginning, their bunked barracks always a common ground. That changed last week.
For the first time ever, the boys are each in their own room. They believe they have gained freedom and independence, which is true. But I cannot help fear a paradise lost in nightly confidants and the whispers between them. Also, a place for potential guests should any care to visit.
This change in the dynamic of our family feels compounded by another shift, the thinning of a friendship. One of the boys is facing changes at school and we feel the effects at home, relationships being connected as they are.
Granted, friendships are fluid. Even the best can grow stretched or frayed, only held together by past adventures and Facebook. Relationships exist in a state of flux.
Over the years, our boys have bounced in and out of social circles, playdates to sleepovers to group chats always pinging. However, the Venn diagram between them has stayed a steady waxing, rarely casting out into the waning.
But it is happening now. A friend that was is a friend no more, despite my wife and I pleading to the contrary. Our case built against mob mentality, suspecting the other child a victim of it.
Or perhaps it is the other way around. We only know one version of one side, pulled reluctantly through sighs and deep, deep eye-rolls.
It could be this is the way life is supposed to work, bonds breaking as they strain across calendars not yet tethered by the archives of social media. All parties free to expand and explore despite the confines of relative history, now replaced with new paths and nods in the lunchroom. After all, it’s their life, no matter how much we like the other parents.
Therein lies the lesson. What happens in the world gets practice in the home, and while temptation waits around every corner to apply our experience to their discovery, nobody benefits when we do the work for them. Some problems solve themselves, regardless of the making.
At home, our boys didn’t lose any sleep once the new arrangement was decided, dividing bedding and decor in the most amicable split ever. Neither, it seemed, cared as much for the stuff they shared as for the room they needed. All they wanted was privacy and possibility. All they wanted was freedom to expand and explore with the comfort of relatives and history sleeping softly in the room next door.
There are diagrams here, too: sibling dynamics, rivalries and overlaps of everything. Yet since the move the boys have played together more than they did in the countless months that preceded it. Perhaps it is the optics of option, spending time together by choice rather than sentence. Perhaps it is the comfort of commonality.
The distance between them is a mix of years and meters, but it is closer where it matters.