Big and Little

I came across this in my files this week. I clearly wrote it a couple of years ago, when Squish was an infant and Manchild a toddler. I think it has some potential for something bigger — possibly to skip forward a couple of years at a time to show how the “lessons” are going, or maybe just to bring it up to the current day when they are old enough to play with each other and The Little is able to give The Big a taste of his own medicine. What do you think? Is there anything in particular you like or dislike about it? Again, any and all thoughts and feedback are appreciated.


Being a big brother is a difficult job, full of paradoxes and confusion. The responsibility towards the little brother is both real and important. The Big must impart to The Little knowledge that he learned from his own experience without depriving his brother of the hard-knocks that cement such knowledge into the brain.

For example: The Big would like to impress upon The Little the fact of pain to the body in various forms. He learned these things slowly, gradually, but has become quite wise in the ways of pain and, because he loves The Little, he would like to expedite the process for him. The Big has to maintain a strict schedule in which to expose the The Little to various forms of pain, from that of being stepped on, to having fingers bitten, to having eyes poked.

Because there are so many pains to teach, The Big must impart of his wisdom the moment another possible pitfall crosses his mind, whether it be in the middle of church (who wouldn’t be reminded about how much it hurts to have your finger bitten as the sacrament is being passed?) or while Mom is in the shower.

But the difficulty arises because The Little is still so little, so young and impressionable and The Big would hate to give the feeling that he is a bully, or someone to be feared. And so he must balance his lessons in pain with an equal — if not greater — amount of lessons in friendship and fun.

For example: The Big would like The Little to understand the joys of rolling. The Little has demonstrated his prowess in rolling, as he has recently learned to roll from his tummy to his back. The Big needs little encouragement to leap in and demonstrate that rolling is not merely a practical skill, but full of gut-bustingly funny potential. And since The Little has only mastered the practical side of things, it is The Big’s responsibility to expose him to joyous aspects of the roll. And so he rolls The Little around on the rug as if The Little were the rug that needed rolling up to be swept under. The Big laughs and laughs and laughs, and The Little, not knowing any better, gives a hesitant chuckle as well. And then stares wide-eyed at the ceiling when The Big runs out of steam.

Speaking of which, The Big is then reminded of another type of rolling: steamrolling. How could he have forgotten the joys of steamrolling? The Little is clearly not ready to take on the task of steamrolling, but surely he could appreciate being steamrolled. The Big rolls over The Little and back again, and laughs and laughs at all the fun he’s having. The Little, bless his little heart, laughs too. Surely this is a good time?

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1 Comment

  1. I like the way you describe the thought process of a toddler. “How could he have forgotten the joys of steamrolling?…surely he could appreciate being steamrolled.” I think it would be interesting to do one about the boys today, maybe more from The Little’s perspective, how being a little brother is a difficult job, his responsibilities, etc.


    lizzie Reply:

    That’s a good idea. I will hold on to that and see if I can come up with some good stuff. Like keeping the big brother humble by slide tackling him on occasion. 🙂


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