Jack: I don't get it. Why don't you just apologize?
Tim: For what?
Jack: For whatever you did.
Tim: What did I do?
Jack: Whatever mom says you did that was wrong!
Tim: I didn't do anything wrong.
Jack: But mom thinks you did and if you just apologize it will be OVER!
Tim: I'd be happy to apologize if I did anything wrong, but I didn't. So I won't.
Jack: Alright. But that is not the direction I would go.
I can't even remember anymore what it was that Timothy did that was wrong (he was probably being argumentative) but what I do remember is their conversation actually made me smile. It reminded me of two things; 1) My boys are SO different, and 2) They have a relationship that is separate from their shared role as our sons, they are brothers.
Over the years, I watched that brotherly friendship grow and change but it wasn't until they were in high school that I truly came to realize something. They were not only brothers, they were allies. And, every once in awhile, their common enemy was me.
Let me explain.
When Tim entered high school, Jack was a senior and thus drove them both to school. They had a 30 minute drive to and from school each day in which they sat side by side and presumably spoke words to each other occasionally. Their school is not gigantic and without a doubt they frequently saw one another in the hallways, at lunch and at school gatherings. During one term they even had an art class together and I came to find out later that most days they sat at the same large table together during said class. Jack would often give rides to Tim to and from his friend's houses and, again, I'm assuming that sometimes during those car rides they spoke to one another.
Do you see where I'm going with this? Are you getting that during that one year they had together in high school they actually spent quite a lot of time together? Yes?
Uh huh, but here is how conversations would go when every now and then I would try to innocently inquire about one brother to the other.
Me: Soooo....(casually) do you know if your brother is asking anyone to the dance?
Son: (without making eye contact) What? I don't know. Why would I know?
Me: Oh, I don't know I just thought maybe he would have said something to you?
Son: Me? Why me?
Me: Because you're his brother and you spend an hour together in the car everyday and you see him at school and I just thought that maybe you might know a little something about what goes on in his life?
LIES!!!! LIES!!!! LIES, I TELL YOU!!!
They know. They always know. They just won't tell me!!!
As infuriating as it was not to be able to get them to turn on one another and be the proper little spies I wanted them to be, I eventually had to admit (begrudgingly) that their loyalty was admirable. While I would have liked to have had a steady stream of information on their lives, and thought I might have been able to bribe at least one of them into being my informant, their tight-lipped, unyielding "know-nothing" schtick was commendable. I guess.
Not that they would ever admit there is a secret alliance between them. I mean, that's the whole point of a secret alliance, right? Nobody is supposed to know. And I've mentioned before that as amiable as my boys are with one another they would roll their eyes and immediately start punching each other if someone tried to suggest they are "friends". But as someone who has tried multiple interrogation tactics and hasn't been able to get one of them to break, there is no doubt some sort of unspoken non-aggression, mutual-defense treaty is in place.
But every now and then one of them lets something slip. Nothing that would qualify as top secret information or critical intelligence, but more of an unmistakable quiet admission that the alliance does in fact exist.
Jack was home doing laundry the other day and started to laugh about something he read on his phone. I inquired as to what was so funny and in an unguarded moment he just chuckled, shook his head and muttered,
Oh, it's just Tim....
And that was all I got. But it was enough. It was enough to know that even now that Jack lives out of the house and goes to college and has taken the concept of secret life to a whole new level, he is still in touch with his brother. And they are still making each other laugh.
That's all I got. But I'll take it.
Long live the alliance. (But I'm still hoping I can get one of them to crack...)
(Can't you see how cagey they can be?)