My track history with boys being born into my life actually began in 1988. I was 8 years old. 8 1/2 to be exact. And my mom dropped me off at my Aunts house so she could go to the hospital to have a baby. I wanted to go out for strawberry ice cream. But instead I was dumped at the relatives house so she could pop a baby out of her va jay jay. This kid was already throwing a wrench into my gears. Hours later the phone rang and my aunt answered, got all squeal-ly and then turned to inform me I had a new baby brother. I wasn’t happy. If nothing else, my mom could have at least made me a sister. A sister could have grown up to play with me and be my best friend. I didn’t want a stupid brother. Boys were dumb and annoying. I didn’t even respond. Just turned and walked out of the room in a huff.
That was my first mistake in life. I am fairly certain God saw my attitude and decided the best way to cure my selfish attitude and chagrin towards boys was to make me grow up to exist in a land of nothing but sheer testosterone. I really should have brought my game face that September day back in ’88.
Turns out having a baby brother wasn’t all bad. He was freaking adorable. I liked helping my mom change him and pick out his little outfits. (It was the 80’s. Most of these outfits were stuff like miniature sailor suits and other such cruelties to children.) He had trouble gaining weight as a baby and looked for all the world like an awkward ET. When he first learned how to roll he became a total over achiever and would roll himself completely under the couch. Hidden from view he would lay there hanging out with the dustbunnies while my mom would panic while looking for him, apparently believing a kidnapper had swooped in and snatched up her baby while she was in the bathroom. (This never really was a concern of mine. I was positive of my moms two kids I was the superior, more awesome one and therefore if anyone was going to get kidnapped it would be ME, not stupid ET baby who only knew how to eat, poop and roll under the couch.)
I became the little mommy as Nick grew up. Helping him learn to ride a bike became my sole focus when he was 5 years old. I’d hold the back of the seat of his of his tiny two-wheeler and encourage him to pedal around the empty tennis courts in our apartment complex where the nets had been removed.) I would vow to him that I would never ever not ever let my hand off the back o his seat. He would begin to pedal nervously and I would prove myself a liar. But it wasn’t long before he figured ot the balancing part of it and could ride in circles. His nerves got the best of him with braking though. That was his kryptonite. The brakes. Instead of attempting to utilize the braks he would simply smash head on at full sped into the fence and ricochet off of the bike onto the pavement. Over and over again. It took a lot of band aids before he finally figured out the brakes might actually be a decent option. When he mastered it all we ushered my mom outside to watch and she cheered and clapped along with me. It was the first time I was really proud of my brother.
Being a big sister had a lot of perks. He looked up to me. He adored me. He followed me around. Some perks not so great…..the time he was potty training and I was about 11 years old and was outside with my friends and he swung open the door and stood there in all of his 3 year old glory wearing nothing but a pair of little boy briefs. He hollered out to me “LOOK TONIA! IVE GOT BIG BOY UNDERWEARS ON!!!!!!” Much to my mothers amusment. And must to my total embarrassment. (I was 11. It mortified me.) I got him back though. He peed in those underwear one day while I was babysitting him and my solution was to lock him in the closet til mom got home. (By the way, as a mother, I no longer promote that as being a good potty training technique. It didn’t really help the situation. It only resulted in me getting grounded.)
As I became a teen I discovered the secret of bribery. I was in charge of my brother when my mom was at work. So, after school I would sneak cigarettes and tell my brother if he didn’t tell mom he could have a candy bar. Or I would have friends over or he would catch me kissing a boy out on the porch. Candy bars were my way of keeping his mouth shut. Or so I thought. But after awhile Nick got wise. He would run off and eat his candy bar, then rat me out to mom the second she got home. Over and over that kid threw me under the bus. After eating my chocolate. Little punk.
My brother and I were raised by the same woman in the same home. But man we took different paths. He’s held the same job since he was about 11 minutes old. (Ok, I think he was actually 16 years old. Whatevs.) He went to college, got himself put on the deans list, graduated like a rock star. Me? I made babies. Had a failed marriage. Moved to the mountains. Im far more hippie. We are an odd pair, honestly. I do yoga, he plays videogames. He makes videos on YouTube for his college class. I write poetry in the woods. I used to think we were maybe not actually related. That one of us had been switched at birth. But as we get older I see how linked we truly are. How we share the same kind of sense of humor. How we stand for a lot of the same major issues in life. I se the pictures online of him wearing a tye dye shirt and a hemp necklace and I realize maybe just maybe he may be pretty cool after all. Brother or not. I may not always GET his journey. Just as he may not always get mine. But I am so utterly immensely PROUD of the man he is. (So much so that one of my sons carries his name as a middle name.) I happen to think that that scrawny ET baby has grown up to be a pretty cool, fairly groovy man. Someone I am proud to call not only my brother, but also my friend.
But so help me sweet baby jesus, if I don’t get a few king sized Hershey bars for Christmas this year from him, theres gonna be trouble. He owes me.