“Do you have a step-brother?”
This was a weird question to get asked while driving Av home from school the other day.
A bit of background: I have one brother who is three years older than me. His name, as revealed here previously, is Captain Awesome. (Also revealed previously: I gave him that name on my blog before the pilot episode of Chuck aired.) After I was born, my parents decided that life was now perfect for them and decided not to have any more children. Or, more likely, they realized what a pain I was as a kid and used that thought as an impetus for birth control. And that was it. No step-siblings, no half-siblings. Just CA and me.
So — where did the question come from? Could it have been due to an exploration of family life of some of his classmates who, possibly, could have step-siblings? Perhaps. But it took a moment for me to realize where he got it from.
His favorite pasttime has been watching the adventures of these two guys:
If you haven’t met them, these are Phineas and Ferb, the title characters to the Disney channel cartoon of the same name. The premise: these two kids are step-brothers trying to figure out how to spend their summer vacation, and they come up with these brilliant, incredible ideas / inventions that let them do anything and everything — whether it’s creating a beach in their backyard or starting a band just to become a one-hit wonder. There’s a lot of potential for utter chaos and destruction in the name of fun. All the while their older sister, Candace, is all about busting them for their escapades, but their mom never ends up seeing them and simply thinks her daughter is hysterical. There’s also a subplot involving their pet platypus named Perry, an animal who has a double life as a secret agent trying to stop an evil genius named Doofenshmirtz.
Oh — and Phineas does most of the talking. Ferb might have one line per episode which he delivers in his proper British accent.
If you haven’t had a chance to watch this show, I highly recommend it. It reminds me a lot of the cartoon humor seen on Anamaniacs and Pinky and the Brain. Kids can get into it, and adults get the subtle (and some not so subtle) nuances.
But back to the topic at hand: step-brothers. Here was a concept I wanted to explain to my son. In fact, the notion of siblings in general is a bit foreign to him as an only child. So I decided to start with this line of questioning.
“Av, do you know what makes Uncle Awesome and me brothers?”
“Yeah, because you two are brothers!”
“No, I mean… what do the two of us have in common? What do we have that’s the same.”
He thought about this a bit. Then he figured it out: “You have the same last name!”
True. “But what else? Do we have the same Dad?”
“And we had the same Mom?”
“Yes! The same Dad and the same Mom!”
“Right! So that makes us brothers — we’re both boys, and we have the same parents. Do you know what step-brothers are?”
“Um…. You have the same Mom and Dad but different last names?”
“Well, close. Step-brothers have … well, let’s see…”
This was tough.
“Okay. Phineas has a mom who is married to Ferb’s Dad…”
“… so that’s why they’re step-brothers!”
“Um… yeah. So now do you understand what step-brothers are?”
He paused for about two or three seconds. And then:
“Hey Dad — let’s make a big fire in the backyard!”
The moral of the story as I see it: don’t let your kids watch television shows which contain step-brothers. Or crazy antics involving fire. Or explosions. Discussing this stuff can be dangerous to one’s personal property.