I have two toddler boys under the age of six. The eldest we call The Hurricane. He is not capable of walking past a table without jumping on it, passing by a low-hanging tree branch without swinging from it, or seeing by a pile of books without deciding that they would look much better scattered all over the living room floor. He sees the whole world as a playground to explore and enjoy, leaving a smiling, over-sugared path of destruction in his wake, and I hope he always does (though I would really appreciate if started picking up the books). The younger one we still call The Baby, even though he is decidedly not a baby anymore. He’s walking, and talking, and freaking eating oysters, which, even if he one day gets into Harvard on a full scholarship for being a supremely kind and considerate human being who never gives his parents trouble,* will always be my proudest achievement as a father.
*Side note: this is probably what they should replace legacy admissions with.
They are at an age right now where they are constantly fighting, yelling, and annoying each other. I don’t know why they do this. All things considered, their lives are pretty great – they don’t have to pay rent, they haven’t had their hearts broken, and they have no understanding of the war in Ukraine—but they can’t stop each other from taking each other’s toys and trying to push each other off the couch.
Every once in a while, though, something magical happens. The Baby will be crying, because he dropped his stuffed bunny and can’t reach it, or because he’s stuck on a chair and can’t figure out how to get down, or because fell down and skinned his knee for the 742nd time that day, and The Hurricane will come running over and give him a hug, and rub his cheek, and tell him that everything’s going to be alright. This, of course, makes my goddamn heart explode. Being an older brother means constantly being annoyed by someone who doesn’t even realize how annoying they can be, but it also means constantly being someone else’s hero. It means a lifetime of coming to your little brother’s rescue.
I don’t know when, but as some point this season, Xander Bogaerts became the entire team’s older brother. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that he was still an impossibly young kid, spitting at outside fastballs in the World Series. But just about everyone he came up with has moved on by now, and although he’s not the oldest or most experienced player in the clubhouse, he’s the calm, veteran presence, trying to hold a team together that’s otherwise breaking apart at the seams.
Sometimes, as was the case with Sunday’s defensive disaster class, it means he’s the only one actually catching the ball while the rest of the team bats it around like seals at the aquarium. Sometimes, it means he’s the one who has to go to mom and dad and tell them to get their shit together. And last night, it meant picking up a lineup that had been shut down by one of the best young starters in the league – on the heels of yet another horrible, late-inning loss, mind you – and saying, don’t worry, young’ins, I’ll take care of us today:
I love the way McKenzie buckles there as soon as Xander makes contact. He looks like a kid who knows he just tried to do something he shouldn’t have and now realizes he’s not going to get away with it. He’d been picking on the Sox for five innings, but here comes the older brother, riding to the rescue.