All of you who have siblings have probably already figured out that your siblings are, at the same time, the humans who are most like you, and those who are most your polar opposites. I have one brother, and throughout our lives, we have ridden the sibling roller coaster, as I’m sure many of you have also experienced. There have been times where we have been very close, and times when we haven’t been speaking to each other. There have been times I’ve questioned how we could possibly have come from the same parents. We’ve survived the usual sibling rivalry, differences in personalities and choices in our lives, and our parents’ expectations affecting our relationship. Now that we are in our 50’s, we have finally settled into a pretty steady relationship.
When we were young, we were very close. We shared a room early on, and played together all the time. As we got a little older, my brother decided, as many older brothers do, that I was a “bubble-gummer”, and that he wanted nothing to do with me, or any of my bubble-gummer friends. Then, as we moved into our later high school and college years, we were again somewhat close, as he “initiated” me into his alma mater, and we exchanged our first long-distance letters. Once we were adults, we went through several more phases, mostly due to our choices in life. We didn’t always agree, and we sometimes had huge fights because of this. And then we hit this plateau, where we both finally realized that we were brother and sister, and despite our differences, we were all we had.
I should give you a little background, to help you understand our differences. My brother is very intelligent. Always has been. I remember he skipped first grade. He could read very early on, had a high IQ…the whole nine yards. Now don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t dumb or anything. But compared to him, I was just never going to quite measure up in that department. Without meaning to, our parents set us up for comparison. He went through everything a few years before me, and I was always trying to keep up. One example of this was they had a big, framed picture of him when he turned one, but there was none of me. First child, you know, you go all out. Maybe some of it was self-imposed, as well. And maybe that’s where he got that “bubble-gummer” idea…I couldn’t possibly be good enough to hang out with him, nor could anyone I might choose to associate with.
In our adult lives, we started to grow apart by our choices. He became a dentist. I became a teacher. Our income brackets alone separated us from the get-go. Politically, he leans right; I lean left. Socially, I like to be goofy, have fun, and do silly things from time to time; he is more conservative. I like small towns; he likes cities. He dresses up; I dress down. For most of our adult lives, we weren’t really close like some siblings…talking all the time, looking to each other for advice, approval, or just spending a lot of time together. But over the last few years, we’ve gotten much closer. And a very important couple of things happened.
The first: my brother asked me for advice. Not just once, but twice. Important advice. And he really wanted my opinion. And he appreciated my opinion. And he may have actually listened and taken some of my suggestions to heart. Yes, the less intelligent, bubble-gummer little sister finally had something to offer. Do you know how great that makes me feel?
The second: my brother read my blog. Not just one post, but many. And he liked it. And he commented on it. And he said I’m a good writer. Do you have any idea how big that is to me? I have never even tried to share anything I’ve done with him, because I’ve always figured he would have no interest, or would be critical. Well, I was dead wrong.
So, much to my delight, my big brother has surprised me by accepting me as a valid human, who is capable, and has something to offer. I never even LIKED bubble gum!