I hear the clomp clomp of brick feet. I wish I could say "pitter patter of little feet" but for anyone who's heard Nolan walk or seen his feet, you know my description is more accurate.
The door creaks open and I hear "Mama, Asher needs you". I look at the clock - 4:00 am.
I walk Nolan back to bed as he tells me Asher needs to pee.
I go into their bedroom, grab Asher, go through the production that is taking him to the bathroom, and then tuck them both back in. I whisper to Nolan that he is the best brother in the entire world.
Just as I'm falling back to sleep, I hear the same creak of the door and the same little "Mama? Asher needs you again". I pick my sleepy boy up and carry him back down the hall, amazed by how heavy he is but how natural carrying him still feels after all this time. I worry about what Asher could need this time.
"I need my stuffy", Asher says.
"You need WHAT?" I reply sharply.
"Baby rhino. I need him now".
I dig around in the dark and when I can't find it, I cover Nolan's eyes and turn Asher's bedside light on to retrieve the stuffy. When I get them both tucked back in I remind Asher that a middle of the night stuffy hunt is not an acceptable reason to get his brother, not to mention his mom, out of bed.
When I'm kissing them good night for the third time, the clock now reads 4:30. Once again I tell Nolan "you really are the best brother ever" before shutting the door, not hearing from them again until morning.
These boys of mine - they fight. OH BOY DO THEY FIGHT. Asher often sports scratches that look like they came from a tiger and I'm sure he is permanently missing clumps of hair. On the other hand, Asher's sharp tongue often has a similar but unseen effect on Nolan's psyche. Sometimes it really astounds me how mean they can be to each other. And then, just like that, they're not. They're loving and holding hands and giggling like each is the funniest person on the planet.
I know any siblings can have a relationship like this - in fact Rio has a similar one with each of the boys. But there is something special about these two boys who have been fighting - in all manner of ways - side by side since birth. They really are the best. And I really hope they always remember just how important they are to each other.