In order to get to my neighborhood I travel across a fairly long and pockmarked bridge. It is a quite dangerous trip actually, but as I mentioned before, people are quick to adapt and you can get used to anything with time. In fact, I often forget how bad the bridge is until a plank comes flying up or I almost fall through one of the holes.
Anyway, after crossing the bridge I make a right turn and then go down the path that is beside the elementary school. When passing by the school I am generally greeted by any number of students that seem to miraculously know my name. I don’t know most of them, but I do know a few. 6 boys. They live near me and they are my new best friends. Their ages range from 4 – 10, but despite the apparent age gap they tend to stick together. They wrestle each other, tease each other, play hide and go seek, but it seems to me that the preferred activity is simple running.
These young boys are in luck, because a 23yr. old former track and field star has moved into the neighborhood. I chase them all around the surrounding area around our houses until I or they get tired. It’s usually me, I admit it. When I am too tired to run I take them by the hands or chest and toss them up into the air until my arms give out. I usually try to relax after that.* I then eat dinner and go out again. I chase them around one last time, take a shower, and then go to bed.
The other night I sat down on the grass in my front yard. I was too tired to run, but instead of giving me a chance to rest I was surrounded by the boys. They shaped their hands and arms to resemble cobras and jabbed them towards me in an attempt to match their reflexes against mine. 1-on-1 a 23yr. old is much faster than a 10yr. old. However, 12 hands flying towards my face gets a bit overwhelming.
After being attacked, I moved to my steps. The youngest boy in the group sat directly in front of me and wriggled his little body in between my legs as close as he could get. He almost racked me in the process, but my quick shift in position saved my precious . . . cargo. I tousled his hair and pretended to check for lice. The other boys were not about to let him have all of my attention. They moved in and surrounded me also. I teased them, laughed with and at them, and told them, “Maglalaro tayo mamaya!” (We will play later). They came back every 3mins. “BranDON!” They’d cry. “MAMAYA PA!!!” (Later still) I’d yell back at them as I was cooking noodles for myself.
After eating, I went outside one more time. I chased them around again and went back into my house to sleep and shower (not in that order). As I was settling down and relaxing I took in the silence that I was granted. I began reviewing the prior events. It always feels good to exercise, but there was something else.
I am an only child.
I’ve never really been a brother.
Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of younger cousins. They are fun, but even they weren’t always around.
As I went to sleep I thought about how annoying those little boys were. I thought about how I never get a moment’s peace when they are around (which is always). I thought about tomorrow and to some extent dreading having to deal with them again.
I then smiled and thought, “But I wouldn’t trade this for much of anything . . .”
Is this what it’s like to be an older brother?
I hope so.
*My relaxation generally consists of hanging out with the other PCV in my neighborhood or just taking a nap.