The Brother

When I was little, I always wanted a big brother. I think it was something I hoped would give me some kind of protection from the teasing; however, the closest thing I had was a handful of male cousins who were older than me, and only one of whom I was close to. He was a year ahead of me in school, and when my friends went through their bad boy stages, they all had crushes on him. He was nice to me, but he was something of a rebel. He could be scary when he wanted to be, but he wasn’t really protective the way I imagined an older brother would be. The one exception was when I was in 8th grade and mustered up the courage to let my friend tell this boy in band that I liked him. That boy replied by saying that he didn’t care, he didn’t like me, and that I was fat. After that, my cousin could be found staring this guy down, making threats in his general direction, and, one time, “accidentally” causing him to fall down the stairs. Whoops.

In the winter of third grade, my mom told my sister and me that she was going to have a baby in the summer. After two girls, my parents were certain that baby #3 would be a girl too. Girly things were purchased or taken out of storage. A pink dress accompanied them to the hospital. I was promised my own room because the baby would room with my sister. It was one of the perks of being the oldest. I remember waking up ridiculously early in the morning on the day my mother was scheduled to have the baby (I had to be born as a C-section, meaning that my sister and baby #3 were too). I was so excited. They took me to my Grandma’s house where my sister had spent the night and we waited. And we waited. And we waited some more. Somewhere just before lunch time, my dad called to tell us that we did not, in fact, have a sister. We had a brother (a brother who would remain nameless for a day or two because they weren’t really prepared with boy names). I started crying immediately. For all these years, I’ve been thinking that I started crying because I wasn’t going to get my own room now, and I’m certain that was part of it. But I think part of me was also just so happy to finally be able to say “I have a brother.” It’s almost 18 years later, and it still sounds somewhat foreign on my tongue. I still get a little kick out of saying “I have a brother.” I knew he would never be the older brother who would stick up for me, but I was still just happy to have him. I spent a lot of time taking care of him when he was little. I didn’t have a choice. My sister was 7 when he was born (I was almost 10) and both of my parents worked. By the time I was 12, I was home alone quite frequently with Mr. Terrible Twos.  Continue reading