My kids have been talking about things they want for Christmas lately. It's true that I like to start my Christmas shopping early, but September is a little early even for me (although I do have a few gifts already purchased even as I write this). It started because KJ started hockey lessons again this week. And all these weeks later, he still wants a stick.
KJ has always wanted a hockey stick. The boy loves equipment. The more equipment, the more he likes a sport. Hockey was perfect for that. Pounds and pounds of equipment, for all parts of one's body. But he's never had a stick. Learn-to-skate doesn't incorporate sticks until the kids have the basics down, and I just generally didn't think it was a good idea to give a three-year-old a three foot stick. So we told KJ he couldn't have a stick until he learned to skate. KJ did pass the first level of learn to skate this spring, so when he started lessons again this fall, the question inevitably came up: "can I please may have a hockey stick?" (I don't know why he always incorporates the "can" and "may" in questions but he does and it's cute). I responded, "Maybe Santa will bring you a hockey stick." (because really, he needs more practice before incorporating a stick). And the Santa door was opened.
As it turns out, my kids have lots of ideas already of what they would like Santa to bring. Sweet Pea wants "two babies" and "two pink ones." (Which, I think, means two pink babies.) KJ wants the aforementioned hockey stick, a police car and a Blackhawks jersey. And then, KJ asked for something that took me by surprise:
"I want Santa Clause to bring [Sweet Pea] a Bears jersey and helmet and pants like mine." KJ said.
"Why do you want Santa to bring that to [Sweet Pea]?" I asked him.
"Because" KJ answered, "then [Sweet Pea] could be on my team."
As many of you know, KJ and Sweet Pea are eighteen months apart. To the day. It wasn't something we planned, it was just something we were blessed with. But I've often wondered if my children would be disadvantaged being so close in age. Whether they'd feel like they always had to compete with each other to get our attention, or to feel special. Especially now, when they are older. The developmental differences between a weeks-old baby and an eighteen month old baby are significant. The developmental differences between a 4 year old and a 2 and a half year old are much less. They like the same toys, the same stories and just generally the same things. I worry that they feel like they are always competing with one another for the same things, including our attention.
But KJ's comment made me see that I was looking at their closeness in age all wrong. My kids don't see themselves as competing with one another, they see themselves as teammates. And they act like teammates. Just last week KJ helped Sweet Pea climb all those bouncy things at a birthday party and saved her a seat - with cake - at the lunch table. When he was scared at hockey, he came off the ice crying, saying that he wished Sweet Pea was there. And Sweet Pea helps KJ. When he fell last week and hit his head, she brought him his bunny and laid with her head on the rocking chair, rubbed his back and asked him again and again if he was okay. Sure, my kids fight from time to time. But their actions demonstrate that they already know - at the ages of 2 and 4 - that when they need someone to help them, or comfort them when they are down or face a fear, they have someone they can rely on: each other.
I'm so proud of my kids, for so many reasons. But especially for how they treat one another. I hope that this Christmas Santa brings me a Bears helmet and jersey and pants, just like KJ's. Because I definitely want to be on their team.