I've realized that Owen and Stewart are in an abusive, dysfunctional, but completely codependent relationship.
All they do is find ways to hurt one another, whether it's Stewart hitting Owen's precious doggies (which he calls his "babies") or Owen running away with one of Stewart's favorite Thomas the Tank Engines.
They are currently locked in a life and death struggle to be the first one to wash their hands after a meal. They spend the entirety of dinner eying one another across the table like a couple of desperadoes. Then as soon as the first one finished swallows his final mouthful and tentatively slides a buttcheek halfway off his chair, the other will drop his fork like he's suddenly discovered it has herpes and push his plate away half uneaten in a mad dash to the sink.
The victor then gets to take an extra long time scrubbing each knuckle and cuticle while the loser is either crumpled on the ground, howling in absolute defeat about how they wanted to be "first" (Stewart) or standing grumpily with their arms crossed over their chest and their lower lip pursed into a pout, exclaiming that they are "gonna be mad at you ALL day, Stewie!" (Owen).
And then there are the toy-induced fights. We have hundreds of toys in this house, from junky little Happy Meal toys to elaborate systems like K'nex or GeoTrax. And yet, the only one either is ever interested in is the one that's in their brother's hand.
The majority of our toys sit dusty and unused, until the moment when one of them touches it and then suddenly it's like Leonardo DiCaprio after Titanic- worshiped, adored and followed around desperately.
They know everything there is to know about one another, and use it against each other in a pointless, bitter, War of the Roses style struggle that NEVER, EVER ENDS. Owen likes to anticipate what toy Stewart wants and snatch it before his chubby little legs can carry him there. Stewart waits until Owen is upstairs alone going pee-pee and lets out a long, ghostly "HOOOOOOOO!" which scares the crap out of Owen.
And the worst part is, they cannot just LEAVE EACH OTHER ALONE. Like adults trapped in a bad relationship with good sex, they cannot stop seeking each other out. They will not just step away from one another and take a break from all the tension and tragedy.
Until, of course, the moment the light goes out in their room and they're supposed to be sleeping. Then all of the sudden they are best friends, giggling and hatching plots.
Ah, this dysfunctional relationship does have its moments. I've heard Owen tucking Stewart in at night, giving him his blankie and his special elephant. I've seen Stewart give Owen the Sugar Addict the rest of his cookies, because he knows how much Owen likes them. I've seen them taking care of each other, loving each other.
But I have to wonder at the end of the day if it's all worthwhile.
All of the fights- are they worth that handful of giggles?
I won't attempt to answer that question, but I will venture to say that I would NEVER again consider having two kids as close in age as Owen and Stewart.