We were all sitting in the living room. Davey and I were watching TV, Aidan was waiting for someone to pay attention to him, and Rex was staring out the sliding glass door, imagining what he would do the next time someone left it unlocked so that he could slide it open and frolic away into the wild green yonder. Three of us were satisfied with the passive activities we were engaged in. Aidan was on the verge of going crazy, however. Neither Davey nor I was cooing over him, and if someone didn't react to him soon, he was going to get really, really sad. He glanced over at Rex and sat up alertly. Oblivious to Aidan's interest, Rex happily watched the flutter of leaves in the wind. Aidan leaped to the floor and, puffing his chest out manfully, strode towards my cat.
"Little brother! Let me smell your face," Aidan commanded.
Rex was startled out of his reverie. "Little what did you call me?" he asked.
"Little brother," said Aidan, leaning forward and snuffling at Rex's nose.
Rex drew back. "I am not your little brother, dog. I am a cat."
"So?" said Aidan. "Mom's a monkey, and so is Dad." He leaned towards Rex earnestly. "Me and you are real brothers, cuz we do the same things. That's how I know we're brothers to each other now."
"Go away," said Rex, sulking. "I don't act like you, and you don't act like me. You're a real stupid guy, and you had better stop smelling my face, because we are not brothers!"
I watched all of this, smirking to myself, thinking of a few examples that suggested Aidan wasn't so far off in his declaration of kinship to my Rex.
For example, the other day I took a quick shower. When I got out and was running hair products through my short and tangled locks, I heard a loud meow and a thump on the door.
"Mom! Mom! Open the door!" Rex shouted.
I opened the door a crack and looked down indulgently, expecting to see Rex looking at me reproachfullyfor keeping him out of a room I was in. To my surprise, I saw him cheek to cheek with Aidan, both of them staring up at me, wide-eyed.
"Let us in!" said Aidan.
I opened the door and they crowded in. Rex jumped on the counter and ate a few bites of cat food and Aidan sniffed my dirty clothes piled on the floor. Rex hopped back onto the floor and Aidan rejected my clothes, having gathered all the information he needed from it. They met at the door.
"Let us back out!" said Aidan.
"Can I get dressed first?" I protested.
"I'm bored in here," complained Rex.
"I want my toys," said Aidan.
"Hey, Mom. Open the door," encouraged Rex.
"You guys can wait a couple minutes," I said. It's not like they had busy lifestyles where every minute counted, and I was tired of them always barging in on me while I was naked.
They posted up next to the door, complaining of boredom and my lack of consideration for other mammals.
A few days later, I was piling their toys up on a chair next to the counter so that I could vacuum the floor. Both boys ignored what I was up to until I pulled out the vacuum. Aidan looked at it in alarm and jumped up onto the couch where he knew he was safe from being sucked up, while Rex slunk out of the living room as slyly as he could, keeping a close eye on the offending appliance as he did so. When I finished, Aidan wandered over to the chair and stretched up on his hind legs to inspect its contents.
"Why'd you put my toys there? Man, those are trapped from me," said Aidan, sadly, bustling back over to the couch and taking a sad nap.
Twenty minutes later, convinced it was safe, Rex returned to the living room and, just like Aidan, stretched up onto his hind legs, and inspected the contents of the chair.
"Why'd you put my toys there? That's okay, I'm a good jumper, and this way Aidan can't get them," said Rex, wandering back down the hallway to go hide on Davey's dresser in our closet.
Even this afternoon, when I got home from spending Mother's Day at church with my Mom, both boys descended upon me at once, each standing on one side of me, each exactly the same distance away from my legs, and each gazing adoringly into my face.
"I missed you," said Aidan.
"I missed you more," whispered Rex.
"You were gone for a long time," said Aidan.
"It seemed like forever," one-upped Rex.
I smiled at them both and then went into the kitchen to heat up some tomato soup.
"Oh, whoops. Medicine," I remembered as I moved through the kitchen, taking a second to slide an allergy pill into a piece of string cheese for Aidan, who scuttled over and scarfed it down with relish.
"Oh, Mom, that was delicious," he complimented, trotting daintily over to the couch to sit on Davey's lap.
"Hey! Hey! Look at me! Look at me!" shrieked Rex from the water bowl.
I complied. "What is it, sweetie?"
"Don't pay more attention to him than me," Rex said.
I picked him up and rubbed him on the back. "Awwww, you're my little good luck guy, aren't you, though?" I cooed. "You're my number one cat, and I really won when I got to take you home."
"Yeah, I'm the prize you got for winning," said Rex, relaxing against my shoulder, and possibly sending a meaningful look at Aidan, whohad sat up to watch our exchange. I could see his brain working. He was about to get jealous.
"Don't even think about getting your feelings hurt," I said to him. "You're sitting on a lap, too."
Aidan blinked at me, silently.
"Look at this dog," I said to Davey, who craned around to get a better look at the pug on his lap.
"Hey," said Davey, giving Aidan's ear a playful tweak. The distraction was just what Aidan needed to jump off the train to Rivalryland and let Rex have his moment with me. He plopped his head down on Davey's knee with a wheeze, and all was well.
Thinking of these moments, a smile tugged at my lips as I watched my boys at the sliding glass door. Aidan was happy to be getting attention from someone, and Rex, I could see, was slowly warming up to Aidan's blunt attempts at building a brotherhood between them. I'm excited to see where this leads.