Running and running and running he circled the room, circled the couch cushions and toys, moving across the floor so quickly that he couldn’t see his own feet. His feet racing each other. His feet racing themselves. His hands flying out from his sides. His whole body in motion. He was a big boy! He was not a baby, even though his brother still called him that sometimes. “Such a baby,” his brother would say, and he would shout and shout at him because he was not a baby! His brother would just laugh and run away and when Mommy would shout up the stairs asking if everything was okay, his brother would shout back, “Yes, it is,” before he could protest. Mommy would remind them both to be nice, but he knew that his brother wouldn’t listen.
To get back at his brother, he would steal his toys (his trucks and cars) and then tuck them between the cushions of the couch so that his brother wouldn’t be able to find them. He knew that this would make his brother sorry that he called him a baby. His brother would shout that his truck was missing. Then he would pretend to help his brother look for it, and when he was the one to find it, his brother would be so excited that he would tell him that he was “such a big boy” just like Mommy always told him. He loved it when his brother called him a “big boy.” He liked being big. Big boys could run. Big boys could climb. Big boys could jump and tackle one another and roll across the floor: rolling, rolling, rolling.
Today, his brother was building a fort. His brother asked him to help him, but he was busy running! He didn’t want to stop and help. His brother didn’t understand that though. “Help me!” he shouted at him. “Help me! I want you to help me!”
He tried explaining to his brother that he was running. He was moving through the air and floating above the playroom and into the clouds, and then, he was flying because he was moving so fast and his hair was whipping around his ears and how could he stop and help when he was flying? But his brother didn’t understand. He didn’t want to run, he wanted to build, so now his brother was mad at him. He stomped his foot and built the fort himself and told him that he wasn’t allowed inside. When he heard that, he stopped. He wanted to go inside! He wanted to play in the fort too. His brother wouldn’t let him in. He screamed at him, “Leave me alone!”
He could hear Mommy’s footsteps on the stairs. He tried to warn his brother that Mommy was coming, but his brother did not want him in his fort even to help. His brother shoved him, and he fell back hard onto the floor and his eyes did a weird dance. He didn’t like the way his head felt as he landed; it thumped against the ground and made his whole head hurt. It was like someone pounding and pounding on his forehead.
Mommy made it to the top of the stairs and picked him up and wrapped him in a big hug. She felt the back of his head for tender spots or lumps or other bad things. He told her that it was bleeding and that he needed a Band-Aid, but she said that it wasn’t bleeding and besides, she couldn’t put a Band-Aid in his hair because it would pull it and give him more owies. Mommy said that it would be all right and that his head would stop hurting, but it was hard to believe her. He was afraid that it would hurt forever, and that Mommy was wrong.
Sitting with Mommy though, his legs started to feel restless. His head stopped hurting. He wanted to run again. He slipped from Mommy’s grasp and took off across the floor. He pushed his toes into the carpet and moved so quickly that he didn’t think that Mommy could see him. Mommy was looking for his brother, calling for him to come out of his fort, but his brother refused, and Mommy started to look angry. Her lips tightening and her eyes tightening and her voice getting louder and louder. So, he climbed into his brother’s fort and this time his brother didn’t stop him. He told his brother to come out and say sorry to Mommy, and his brother slowly made his way out of the fort. Mommy opened her mouth to say something, but his brother said that he was sorry and even hugged him. Mommy’s face relaxed and she told his brother to be nice because he was just a baby. But he wasn’t a baby! He was big. Now, he was mad at Mommy too. He left both of them standing there and he ran and ran and neither Mommy or his brother would be able to catch him because he was big and fast, and soon, they would see.