Rather than post a dull series of Thanksgiving thank-yous to the many, many people who miraculously put up with me all these years love me for who I am, I thought I’d share a few memories instead.
First up, Big Little Brother. (I’m older by several years, but surrendered the growth curve the year he turned nine. At last count, he’s more than a foot taller.)
I’m not sure what I thought of Big Little Brother when they brought him home from the hospital. My dad was laid up with a broken leg (teach him to show off on the neighbors’ new trampoline the day before baby was due) and although I don’t actually remember the day I’d guess signing Dad’s cast with a purple crayon ranked higher than welcoming the new sibling.
By the time he turned two, I’m quite positive I wanted to send him back where he came from. (Note: I didn’t know where that was at the time, and it might or might not have changed my mind.) He followed me everywhere, repeated what I said, thought the sun rose and set behind me (which, for the record, loses its allure fairly fast when it’s real) and generally made a nuisance of himself.
Until I found the utility in his adoration. Before the year was out, I had a brilliant test-subject for the questionable words I’d learned at school (How does that soap taste, BLB? Guess that was a bad word after all.) who also happened to be highly susceptible to Jedi Mind Control.
You don’t need to eat your own cookie. You don’t like that cookie. Give it to me. Move along.
Sadly, I’m not kidding. All of this is true.
My reign of terror came to a head shortly before Halloween the year Big Little Brother turned three. I made him a bird costume from tissue paper and colored pencils. Mask, wings, the whole nine yards. (OK, more like the whole two yards. He wasn’t that tall yet.) I put the costume on him with tape and string, then led him into the yard.
My mother caught us just before I got him on top of the retaining wall. Why the wall?
Because I had dressed him as a bird, of course, and I had also convinced him that he could fly.
In retrospect I doubt the wall was really high enough to hurt him. (Much) He probably would have ended up with a few bruises and a sprain. As it happened, he ended up with a popsicle and I got three or four pops. What flavor, you ask? His was cherry. Mine were “on-your-misbehaving bottom.”
I’d like to say that little experience cured me of mistreating my brother. That I never again stole his Legos, hid his blanket, or “persuaded” him out of his cookies when my mother couldn’t see. I’d like to say it, but we all know it would be a lie.
That said, the Great Bird Experiment was one of the last times I (almost) got him before he got smart enough to pay me back for my behavior. And pay I did – in spades and stretch-monsters (though that’s a story for another day). But despite our childish squabbling, from the time Big Little Brother grew old enough to qualify as a person in my eyes, I also knew two other things: nobody else could torture him without incurring my pint-sized wrath, and if anyone ever came after me, my brother would have my back. That much has never changed.
Two years ago we faced the hardest challenge a sibling relationship can face: a parent’s sudden and unexpected death. I’ve seen many families torn apart by the loss of a parent, but my brother and I pulled together. We were close before, but even closer now, and for that I am truly grateful.
He still knows how to push my buttons, and sometimes he even tries, but I think I could still take him if I wanted to. It’s just a matter of persuasion, right?
Of course, he’s almost seven feet tall now, and I’d need a bigger wall.
On second thought, I think I’ll stick to the armistice.