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Hero Worship

Six months ago or so, getting together with his cousins meant that Simon spent much of his time with Liv, the oldest of my brother Steve’s brood. Liv is now 11 ½ and has always been the “Mommy Jr.” of her household. So the larger Goldstein family would get together, and I would inevitably find Liv chasing Simon around with a pull toy, pushing his swing, or playing patty-cake. In return, he adored her.

Around Chanukah last year, we noticed a shift. The gender identification switch was flipped, and suddenly Ben, the youngest of the crew, came to the fore. At 7 ½, Ben  is 4 years Simon’s senior and is perfectly poised to be the object of adoration: He’s just enough older to be able to show Simon all sorts of things Simon can’t do or isn’t familiar with, but he’s still young enough to be approachable and identifiable.

This weekend, Simon and Ben got together twice and were able to share their adoration for all things Rondo. Simon referred to the NBA championships (of which I will say little, as my most hated team in the league beat one of my favorites) as “Rondo”, knows his jersey number, and asks to see Rondo’s house (hometown Louisville house, not current Boston and/or Orlando mansions) on Google maps. Ben, meanwhile, is going to camp Rondo this week and next and loves to play basketball on his back-yard court and on the Wii.

I wasn’t thrilled with this last bit, as we fight the screen time fight frequently, and I have no intention of spending money in my unemployed state on an expensive video game. I had been planning to delay Simon’s discovery of the existence of video games for as long as possible. But Ben and Steve prevailed, so Simon was in the thrall of the older cousin and the video games, explaining to me when I told him we had to leave that “playing Speed Racer was his job” and that “it would be too dangerous for me.” I love preschool logic.

By days’ end, Simon wanted to know when he could go back and was in tears at the thought of leaving. Cousin Maddie, who at 9 is currently a junior camp counselor for three-year-olds, took one look at Simon and helpfully told me that he looked like he was about a minute from a melt-down. Au contraire, young Maddie, he was a minute into his collapse!

Luckily, Ben left a very cute message on our answering machine last night asking when Simon could come back. I was a bit surprised by this, as I figured spending time with the little boy who can’t keep up might start to feel like unpaid babysitting. Then Steve explained to me that this is the first time Ben has ever gotten to be the big cousin, that Simon is easy, and that he’s relishing his new role.

I am, needless to say, delighted that what is a treat for one is an equal treat for the other. I am also interested to see how Ben’s bull-in-china-shop mien will mesh with Simon’s more hesitant and sensitive nature. Having said that, I have put my brother on warning that first time Simon nags me about the NBA or Speed Racer Wii game, he’s on the hook for buying us one for Chanukah or Simon’s birthday!

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