But He's Three Years Younger Than Me!

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Welcome to the far-from-wonderful world of overachieving 13-year-old Ronnie King and his 10-year-old tag-along brother Jay! For some, brotherhood is a beautiful thing, but not at all for Ronnie. There is middle school in full swing, select team sports and gifted/talented school classes have him super busy, and to say his social life is blossoming is quite the understatement. And then there is Jay. Jay is, well, just Jay, with fourth grade turning into fifth and nothing much to celebrate. For Jay, having fun with Ronnie is the center of his little-kid universe. Jay is Ronnie’s dilemma, and his younger brother is becoming quite the aggravating nuisance. With every attempt Dad makes to bring them closer, Ronnie echoes the same complaint: But He’s Three Years Younger Than Me! But Ronnie is also Jay’s extreme frustration: Why doesn’t my older brother have time for me anymore? Doesn’t he love me anymore? Clearly the very best of brotherly friends have become the absolute worst of enemies under one house, and in one shared bedroom, no less. Dad hasn’t given up on his boys, though, not by a very, very long shot! Through a walk in the future in their own neighborhood, Ronnie and Jay’s father shows them what they can become for each other over time, not what they are not in the present.

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Who is this King and Prince?

Here comes Ronnie,

And here comes Jay.

They’re brothers, but not really brothers,

In so many different ways.

It wasn’t always like this

In the family called the Kings.

Ronnie was once Jay’s royal king,

For the king could do most anything!

King Ronnie could teach Prince Jay to ride

When he was even too scared to sit on a bike.

And his king was always there, side by side with his prince

To listen, and talk, and hike.

But the Kings were not a royal kingdom anymore

Where king and prince rode into neighborhood glory.

No, Ronnie and Jay really, really hated each other now,

And so, this kingdom became quite a different story.

In kingdoms gone by, princes do not turn a royal ten years old,

And his king, a royal thirteen.

At the Kings’ House, there was no palace,

Only a boys’ dungeon could be seen.

Now this was quite a unique kingdom

With a father, of course named Mr. King,

But Dad, poor Dad, saw no peaceable kingdom.

Every night after work was a sad song to sing.

Mr. King knew the young king’s refrain.

He knew it well, and all could see

That Ronnie could only complain and complain,

“But He’s Three Years Younger Than Me!”

Jay could only sit and sulk

As the brother king went on and on,

About that other person who slept in his room:

That one—Ronnie wished he was gone!

Mr. King was in the middle of a king and a prince,

In a kingdom badly divided.

The young king wanted the prince out of the way,

Oh yes, he had already decided.

The prince named Jay would soon have none of this

As his fist slammed on the dinner table.

“Ronnie, do you know who I am?

Can you figure that out, are you even able?”

Mr. King had learned by now

How to stay clear of this recurring palace duel

So once again, he let the king and the prince

Draw their swords and act like fools.

“Oh, yeah, you jerk!” the older brother replied.

I know who the heck you are!

You’re the kid I can’t ever get rid of,

Whether you’re near or far.

“Don’t you know how smart and busy I am,

In middle school and such?

If you only looked in your baby boy head,

Your life—Ha, it ain’t that much!”

“Where is your travel team,

And what do you even play,

And do you have GT names for your classes—

Gifted And Talented, as we like to say!”

“Yeah, you DO say a lot,” replied the prince turned dueler,

“And it’s always for all to see:

YOUR brains, YOUR teams, and all YOUR friends,

So, what do you have to say about ME!”

“What ABOUT you, Jay!” snapped the king in his castle.

“You just go to school and then stay

In your room and wait for me

As if I have time to play!

“What do YOU know about advanced classes

In your little boy ten-year-old world?

What do YOU know about select soccer teams?

And dances, and dating, and GIRLS!”

“Ronnie, shut your mouth!” as Jay returned fire,

“And ANSWER me, since you haven’t before.

Don’t you know I am your BROTHER?

Don’t you LOVE me anymore?”

In royal kingdoms past, years and years ago,

A prince wouldn’t slam his sword down and cry.

But this was the Kings, and Mr. King

Knew the reasons why.

The big king to the little king, and the little king to the prince

Knew there were two problems in the royal house.

Ronnie saw the Jay that just got in his way.

And for Jay—Well, Ronnie was just the big bragging mouse!

What is a squire and a father to do?

A king and prince are hardly ready to rule.

Why, he would take charge, not the king or the prince,

For this would be their last duel!

“Boys, ENOUGH!” exclaimed Mr. King,

As Mrs. King cried through it all.

“Don’t you see what this is doing to your Mom?

You, Ronnie, and you, Jay, are both acting so small!”

But in this boys’ kingdom

There would be no merciful slack,

As the king of thirteen soon shot back

At the prince of ten with yet another attack.

“Dad, my gosh, why is it always

That you always take Jay’s dumb side?

You know my schedule, you see my texts,

And you see Jay’s time is open wide!”

Mr. King could only sigh

As he sees Jay’s napkin thrown at his brother.

“YOUR side, Ronnie, give me a break!

It’s like it’s only about YOU and NONE OTHER!”

The king-turned-squire saw the little king and prince

Stand up and glare nose to nose.

He stated quite simply, “Ronnie, Jay, this ends now,”

As his sons stooped once again to new lows.

“You two, clear the table, and wash the dishes.

Give your dear mother a break!

And don’t even think of fighting in your room,

Tonight, the three of us a walk we will take.”

A king and a prince can be quite confused

Taking orders from a king who is now just a squire,

But the table was cleared, and the dishes were washed

And off they went as the squire desired.

Ronnie and Jay knew this walk very well,

It was Dad and the boys’ habit from so long ago.

But that was before the king and the prince

Became people they really did not know.

Mr. King, however, had something else in mind

As they met Landon and Terry Drew.

They were students aged 23 and 20,

And they were brothers, too.

“Ronnie, Jay, how’ve been!” the older guys asked.

Mr. King struggled to say “Hi.”

“Well, my boys are now discovering

How to appreciate each other,” the squire did reply.

“Ronnie, Jay,” the older Drew asked,

“Do you not agree,

That in ten short years, the two of you

Will be like my brother and me?”

The younger Drew added, “That is so true!

We’re still different, but in a way still the same.

He can still beat me in basketball,

But we’re both now in college, playing the college study game.”

The squire, the king, and the prince had to move on

And soon they ran into the Girtys,

One was a brother of 33,

And the other a brother of 30.

“How are Jimmy and Joe today?” asked Mr. King,

While reintroducing his sons.

Ronnie and Jay hadn’t quite figured it out yet

Since the puzzle had just begun.

“Jim, you’ve been married seven years, right?

And Joe, it’s been nearly three?”

Jim and Joe Girty, working in the yard and pretty dirty,

Both replied, “The years sure go by fast to me.

“I’m so glad we have each other, one brother to another,

Especially raising our kids.”

Mr. King nodded, “There is no doubt about it,

Being there for each other is what you did!”

As the Kings waived good-bye, Jay caught Ronnie’s eye.

The prince was getting the squire’s intention.

But the walk was not over, and two more brothers were coming over

In the king and the prince’s direction.

This time, it was Howard, and the younger guy Gus.

They were the brothers Borty.

Howard Borty was 43,

And little Gus was suddenly now 40.

Mr. King knew the Bortys from growing up together,

When they were just 13 and 10.

The squire couldn’t believe how their families had grown.

They’ve come a long way since then.

But the younger brother Borty? Gus’ youngest son was such a shorty,

And Howard’s youngest, he was so tall.

They were now 13 and 10—Ronnie and Jay, guess again.

Mr. Tall made Mr. Small feel so small!

Yet that was not all on the Kings’ royal walk,

For the Nifty’s were next on their way.

George was 53, and yes, Lenny Nifty was 50,

So, of course, the king and the prince both knew what they’d say.

Ronnie and Jay also got this one wrong.

Soon, they would find out

About Lenny’s five-year battle with cancer,

And how George would cry, and scream, and shout.

“But Ronnie, Jay, I still have Lenny,” George smiled,

As put his arm around his brother.

“You know, I hated his guts when I was 13 and he was 10,

But I’d never trade him for another brother.”

The sun was setting, and it was getting late

And the king had another busy day ahead.

But the squire was not done, so the king and prince did run

Back to the dinner table of the duel, where their father said,

“Tell me Ronnie, tell me Jay,

Answer me, would you both agree?

Did Landon or Terry, or Jimmy or Joe say,

“But he’s three years younger than me?”

“Does Howard or Gus, or George or Lenny,

Now hate the brother they’ve got?

And there’s more to life than just these guys,

Believe me, life can teach you a lot!”

The king and the prince were getting the message

And were ready to come down from their thrones,

But the squire had taken power as the man of the hour, and

He was not going to leave his new King kingdom alone.

“There is also 63 and 60, and perhaps 73 and 70,

And maybe even 83 and 80 to come,

The further you go, your love and friendship can grow,

Where there is three years, there is really none.

“Yet you Ronnie, and you Jay,

Can still be enemies for the rest of your lives.

You can choose not to know each other’s children,

You can choose not to meet each other wives.”

This struck the king hard, for some odd reason,

Being the middle school boy.

But even the prince looked at the king in disbelief

That they would be robbed of this joy.

“The decision is yours, and I’m just your Dad,

So, your lives are whatever you want them to be.

But can I leave you with two stories that may change your mind,

In case you still disagree?”

Ronnie and Jay moved closer together,

With their arms around each other.

They had gotten the message, but they still needed help

From a King to show a king how to love a princely brother.

“Do you know in another country,” Mr. King continued,

“There are people who die very old and very alone?

And people are hired to just take their bodies away,

Without brothers to give them a funeral or burial home?”

“And elsewhere far away, in a magazine I read

About a woman who died watching TV,

But nobody found her for three whole years,

Do you want that for you or for me?”

“I don’t want that for Ronnie,” the younger prince said quietly.

“And I don’t want that for Jay,” the older king readily replied.

“And my boys, I don’t want that for either of you,

But that’s what can happen when love is denied.”

“Now, Ronnie, I know you have practice tomorrow,

And you both need to get your homework done.

But before you sleep, please think about this:

Love is not a game that is lost or is won.”

And so, in a battlefield turned bedroom that night,

Two enemies were trying to become friends.

No, they hardly agreed on anything yet,

But their last duel was coming to an end.

As they drifted off to sleep,

Jay asked Ronnie, “Wouldn’t you agree

That I sure am pretty lucky

You’re three years older than me?”

“Now Jay,” shot back the king, “We’re still so different,

And the world out there can be so tough.

But you know, as long as we love each other as brothers,

That really is enough.”

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