An article I just wrote for Helium. The article's subject was Sibling Rivalry/Humor.
I had an ideal childhood. I grew up an only child, spoiled, getting all my parents' and grandparents' attention, not a care in the world. That was until I was three and my parents had the nerve to bring a "new one" home. I remember sitting on my parents' bed as I watched my mother carrying this swaddled blue ball, sit down beside me on the bed.
"This is your new brother. His name is Kevin", my mother said, in a real overly sweet voice, like I was supposed to be thrilled. I looked him over and clearly I wasn't thrilled when I looked at my dad and asked if we could take him back and get a dog.
And from that moment, life for me was never the same. My "new" brother cried all the time, sucked up all the attention, my parents were exhausted and I felt like an afterthought. I started getting in trouble. One afternoon my dad was across the street at the pool hall shooting pool for the rent (it was the late 70's, you just did that back then), and my mom, my brother and I were napping. I must have been hungry when I awoke and since I was left to my own devices, I climbed up on a chair and got into a box of donuts on the stove, knocking one of the burners into the "ON" position. The box of donuts went up but thankfully we had metal cabinets so they didn't go up along with the house. My dad rushed in to save the day and that woke my parents up out of their fog. They knew right then I commanded more attention.
One of the hardest things for a new big brother or sister to do is learn to share. I was no different. When I heard the "ding ding" of the snow cone man weaving his way through the neighborhood, I knew that bubble gum flavored snow cone wasn't going to be mine alone. If it wasn't enough that I had to share my cone, with you know who, my parents thought it was the cutest thing when he would try and take bites of the cone and proceed to dribble it down his shirt. Meanwhile, while I was forced to hold the cone for him, I also had to watch it melt as my parents took too many pictures of their baby boy with a pink drool stained muscle shirt.
Car trips were just plain hell. Every summer we would visit our family in Maine. It was an 800 mile trip. As Kevin got older, he became more annoying. He would start copying everything I did or said. He would hog the backseat. He would touch me. One year it was so bad that my dad put a piece of masking tape down the middle of the backseat of our Lincoln. Eyes crossed he said, "Now, no one goes over that line. First one who crosses his or her side gets one of these!" as he pumped his fist into the air. We may have made it 10 miles.
My brother was a wimp which annoyed me to no end. He wouldn't go outside after it rained because he was scared of the worms in the driveway. I spent many nice summer days after a thunderstorm in the house. He wouldn't ride any amusement park rides, especially roller coasters. He spoiled a lot of my fun there too!
And he followed me and my friends everywhere. One day the frustration of him following me and him being a wimp combined into a bad situation. We were not allowed to ever cross the road but my friend Chris and I knew of a huge hornet's nest at our friend Becky's house. Becky and her family were away on vacation so we went across the road to her house, to knock down the nest and guess who followed. We started throwing rocks at the nest to see if we could knock it down and hundreds of hornets flew out of their nest heading straight for us.
"Book it!" Chris yelled. All I could see is his flaming red hair trailing behind him. I took off and there stood my brother in tears, knowing he wasn't allowed to cross the road on his own.
"Where's your brother?" my mother asked as I ran into the house and sat at the table waiting for lunch.
"I don't know," I said and shrugged. And all of a sudden I heard her scream, as in walked my brother with hives from head to toe. He sat with his tear stained face, sobbing as he ate his peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And then all of a sudden he started hyperventilating, so it seemed. He really went into anaphylactic shock and had to be rushed to the ER. He had to carry and EPI pen with him for years.
As he got older he made his own friends and got into his own trouble. When he was old enough to work on my grandfather's farm at about six years old, he spent the entire summer living at their farm. It was a great experience. It was great for him, because he became very close with my grandparents and great for me because he didn't come home for the entire summer. Every summer he would leave the day after school left out and come home the day before school started.
My mother would be heartbroken. "Aren't you going to miss him?" she would say as we watched my grandfather pull away, my brother waving from the backseat.
"Nope," I replied.
Today, we remain totally different people and we have our own families. We don't spend a lot of time together, as schedules don't allow, but I do work for him at his very successful business. I don't take much of a paycheck as I told him I want to see his business succeed. We are very supportive of one another and he recently told me on the phone, after running into a business problem, "Look, I know I joke around a lot, but I really do appreciate and value your opinion. You have a good head for business so I want your input."
I think it was his way of telling me that he loved me. Or it was his way of saying, "I forgive you for the hornet thing."