It's been a long time since my boys have done something together that hasn't involved arguing about who took the dog out last or who stole who's pair of socks. But I sit here on this strangely stormy May sunday listening to my youngest help his older brother prepare for a college math placement test. Quadratic formulas and solving the function of x is music to my ears--almost as sweet as the days of eavesdropping upon their bedtime conversations about their pirate ship fantasy world some fifteen years ago. I realize time has passed by much too quickly when I overhear conversations about binomial coefficients instead of how to fasten an eye patch out of shoelaces and duct tape.

The world could be falling apart around me but if my kids are peacefully interacting, I think I speak for all mothers when I say, we stop what we're doing no matter the import and listen. 

When my oldest genuinely thanked his younger brother for his help after their 90 minutes of study, I did a subconscious double-take. I suppose that at this stage of the teenage game, I'm intently looking for signs that they do, in fact, love one another in the midst of angst and drama and testosterone. If they can figure out how to authentically care for each other then maybe, just maybe, they'll become honest-to-goodness-real-live-loving-caring-human beings who contribute something (anything) to society. 

It's not the I really doubt their love for each other; it's just seems so deeply buried these days. Nothing could ever have prepared me for their competitive nature towards one another...was it because they shared rooms until middle school? Or was it because they shared so many of the same toys, books or friends? Or was it (as I suspected might someday come back to haunt me) because unbeknownst to them, they shared underwear when they were both wearing 4T (after the laundry, I promise!). Who really knows? But all I do know is trying to figure out how to share legos was small potatoes compared to all the things of teenage young men (subtext:girls). They're cartoon-like in their confrontations with one another; complete with the beet colored faces and steam coming out of the ears!

These are the ways of brothers I'm told. But logarithms and lovely young women who complicate matters are now up to them. Let's just hope the lessons of learning to deal with the complexities of cardboard swords and taking turns on the tricycle will serve them well as they navigate life and relationships. And pray that no clinical studies come out revealing that brothers who shared superhero underwear at the age of three and four in fact end up living out their lives in their mother's basement pretending to be pirates...but really good at math!