This photo popped up today as my memory on Facebook from 6 years ago and I realised that nothing much has changed. From the day Joel was born, Sam has been pretty much unimpressed with his baby brother. When my parents fetched my rather rambunctious todder to meet the new arrival, he took one look at the sleeping babe in my arms, turned on his heels and ran to the playroom where he’d spotted something far more interesting than his new sibling. I wasn’t particularly concerned as Joel was very uninteresting at this point, like all babies, so I was certain things would improve.
They didn’t really. He resented his beloved Dis (my dad) even looking at Joel. I’m sure he had to sneak in visits to see his new grandson when Sam was at Nursery, because if he was in house at the same time as his eldest grandchild, my dad’s overriding concern had to be building yet another train track for the disobedient Thomas and his assortment of anarchic friends upon which they could cause yet more mayhem!
I can only recall two occasions when Sam has shown any positive emotion towards Joel. Firstly, Sam was obsessed with hoovers and would deliberately misguide a biscuit so it ended up on the floor rather than in his mouth. On this particular day, Joel was lying on the carpet, not looking to his left, admiring the swirling patterns on the ceiling wallpaper. Out came the ‘oova’ and I set about clearing up yet another daily dose of dropped digestive. Feeling rather sadistic, I manoeuvred the Dyson closer to Joel, then asked Sam if I should hoover him up. Much to my surprise, this signalled a violent outburst. He quickly redirected his gaze from the hoover’s rotating brush, screamed and flung himself in front of Joel. At the time, I was relieved that he finally might have some feelings for this uneventful creature lying in a trance on the floor. Now as I type this, I’m thinking maybe he was more concerned that sucking up such a large entity would damage the mechanics of the vacuum cleaner and that would have been more of a disaster than losing his baby brother!
The only other time Sam seemed to care about Joel was when both boys were in infant school. I came in to do supply and was greeted with a sobbing Sam. Now, I knew he wasn’t a fan of me teaching him and his friends, but this was certainly an overreaction. However, he then started blubbering about his brother dying. Again, I didn’t think this was a particular concern for Sam. Right on queue, Joel emerged from the medical room, his forehead hidden by a substantial bandage, grinning like the loon he had become. It transpired someone had dared him to headbutt a wall. And he had. I’m assuming the child thought a blow to the head might jump start Joel’s brain into some sort of activity. That didn’t happen unfortunately. Joel just skipped happily back out into the playground while I comforted a bewildered Sam, for the second and last time he showed any concern about his brother.
To this day, Joel is an annoyance, nuisance, hindrance, irrelevance or insignificance to Sam. Except when he wants to borrow his rechargeable batteries and then he’s not too bad after all! Maybe there is hope!