This evening I saw an interaction between my two boys that has me wondering about my role as parent. Big Brother has long held deep feelings about his brother’s OCD and about how my husband and I have handled it. It is his opinion that we have not been tough enough on Blake and that we need to demonstrate to him the error of his thinking and demand that he not ritualize. He gets frustrated by what he sees as our being way too soft.
On many an occasion, I have tried to explain to him that strong-arming someone into behaving a certain way is generally not a good way to gain their cooperation. I have explained that if I tried to force him to act a certain way, that he would most definitely rebel. I have explained to him that Blake currently does not view his OCD symptoms as a problem. The harder we have pushed against Blake, the more fiercely he has fought to keep his symptoms. If Blake is to get better, at least at this point, he has to recognize that there is a problem and commit to getting better.
These discussions are generally lost on Big Brother. In his 17-year-old mind, he knows better. In all fairness, he has lived with this over the past 7 years and has had to deal with the many ramifications it has had on our family life. It’s no wonder he sometimes takes matters into his own hands.
This evening, he noticed Blake trying to be unobtrusive as he tossed some salt over his shoulder. He wasn’t going to let this chance go by to drive a point home.
“What was that you did?” he says to Blake.
“What was what?” Blake replies
“You just threw salt over your shoulder. What was it about?”
“It was nothing.”
“It wasn’t nothing,” Big Brother pursues. “You threw salt over your shoulder. There must be a reason.”
“I really don’t want to talk about it.”
“Don’t do that. Don’t try to get out of it. Tell my why you did it. You need to be honest with me. Stop trying to avoid the issue…..”
It went on from there, but I busied myself with finishing our meal. We had family over and I figured I’d let the boys figure this one out. I think they did, because it never erupted into anything big. No arguing.
Once our extended family left the house, I started to ponder what my role is here. Is it my job to stay out of it and allow these two to work it out? It is my role to defend Blake and ask Big Brother to back off? How does Blake feel about his brother coming on strong and demanding that he share his thinking and his rituals? How does he feel that I seem to be allowing it to happen? How would Big Brother feel if I react by stopping his attempts to manage this situation?
I’m not any closer to deciding what to do. I feel like this is a situation that is ripe to erupt. As I have mentioned before, I know my boys need to learn to work this out for themselves. They are both becoming young men and I know I cannot mediate their relationship forever. At the same time, we have not yet really seen Blake stand up to his brother – the one he has worshipped since he was little. If Big Brother keeps on pushing him like he did tonight, Blake may rise up soon. I guess I just have to trust my gut as a parent that I will know what to do as this situation keeps evolving.