seems like the two brothers are like.. talking shit and making jokes during the whole game and the father is like no talk, no move, no sound, just pure mental concentration. How can he do that with both of them around him? Make them sit next to each other you poor father! But he is a strong and powerful man. (he fathered 4 football players so please, he is pratically a god) If the Hazard brothers can’t distract him from football. Nothing will. He is just all focus on the game. HE is the game.
I like to call this phenomenon, in which reward systems become pervasive in family life, a “reward economy.” In reward economies, kids learn to trade desirable behavior for a reward. Sometimes the reward comes directly, in the form of toys, ice cream, or books; sometimes its value is stored, like currency, in stickers or other objects that can be exchanged at a later date. Whatever the system, reward economies promote a transactional model for good behavior: Children come to expect a reward for good behavior and are hesitant to “give it away for free,” like the 8-year-old boy who wanted a reward for helping his brother.
Some of the hazards of sticker charts include the much-discussed risk of undermining kids’ intrinsic motivation, or the need to offer more and better rewards as the original ones lose their appeal. But perhaps more distressingly, reward economies also affect how children think about relationships.
He had been stabbing his fork against his plate all night, dejected and barely paying attention to the conversation going on currently between me, his parents and his brother Eden. I wasn’t sure what was going on in his mind but he wasn’t his usual cheery self.
I nudged his leg with my hand but my nudging went unnoticed as he continued to just move his fork against the pasta on his plate and his mother’s words directed toward him. “Thorgan?” She repeated. Finally, he looked up at her. “Huh?”
“What’s wrong? You’re being oddly weird.” She offered a small smile but all he did was wave it off and shrug. “Nothing.”
He cleared his throat and finally began to put a pasta noodle in his mouth while we all simply watched curiously. His mother decided to ignore it for now and continue on talking. “I’m so happy to have you both home at the same time for once. I’ve missed these family dinners.”
Though their other siblings were missing, she seemed content with at least having Eden and Thorgan there for once. Meanwhile, my boyfriend just scoffed and shook his head a bit while he mumbled under his breath, “Yeah sure. You see Eden all the time.”
Eden immediately cut his eyes to his brother and his parents eyes narrowed in their son’s direction. “What is that supposed to mean?”
“You see him all the time, going to his matches,” the younger Hazard clarified. “Eden, Eden, Eden. It’s always about him, isn’t it? Just like the reporter that was like ‘Oh no, we saw the name Hazard and thought it was Eden. We’d much prefer an interview with your brother.’”
“That’s not what they said,” I quickly interjected as he completely muddled the actual exchange. Thorgan was given the opportunity to do a few interviews and I accompanied him. The reporter had simply made the error of preparing questions for Eden and not for him. He apologized soon after that and quickly corrected himself. He did crack a few jokes but they were all innocent jabs. I guess Thorgan didn’t take them to be that and he ignored my countering statement.
“Or what about the kid that came up to me and said ‘Do you think you could get your brother to sign this?’ That didn’t happen?”
It seemed he was growing tired of being in his older brother’s shadow and that frustration showed on his face right now while everyone else fell silent. Except Eden of course.
“I mean I can’t help it I always beat you in football,” he chuckled. His brother just shot him a look in return.
“Whatever. I’m done eating.” I watched as my boyfriend shoved his plate away and got up from the table, heading off outside of the kitchen. I looked to everyone left at the table before excusing myself as well and following him into one of the nearby bedrooms.
“What’s your issue?” I grabbed for his arm to turn him toward me but he avoided my gaze for now. “Nothing.”
“You’re lying. Not with that outburst you just had at the table. Are you jealous of your brother?”
“Jealous is a strong word. More like bothered.” He fell into a seated position on the edge of the bed, finally looking up to me as he spoke. “I just get tired of being compared to him. The Hazard brothers, Eden and his little brother, all of that. I mean yeah I’m proud as hell he’s out there doing his thing but I don’t wanna live in this shadow of being the younger brother for the rest of my career.”
“It won’t be like that,” I assured. “Your career is really just beginning and soon enough people will realize just what you are capable of. I know there are a ton of people out there already that realize how great you are. You just have to give the others time to come around. It’s not as serious as you’re making it. I promise. And besides, you’re already the more successful brother. You have me.”
I playfully threw my hair over my shoulder and no matter how much he wanted to continue remaining in his pitiful state, he couldn’t help but break into a smile and then into a chuckle.
“Do you always have to do that?”
“Do what?” I questioned curiously.
“Make me feel better when all I want to do is wallow in my own fake misery.”
I laughed and placed a quick kiss to his lips. “Of course. It’s my job.”