Last night, while soaking in warmth from the fire and attempting to make my neurons do something other than “zzzzzzz”, Mr. Smarty-pants and Miss Diva were supposed to be folding laundry. Miss Drama, under my somewhat cognizant attention, worked on her homework. While Miss Drama puzzled out complicated words like, “by” and “any” and put them into sentences (to her credit, she makes up far more creative sentences than her brother, her sister, or I did at that age).
Unfortunately the barrage of insults and threats of bodily violence piled up in the living room to the point I wanted to pursue a tactical retreat to the bedroom. I’ve been reading a book on sibling rivalry, but I had neither the energy or cognitive function to try out new child psychology techniques. The attitude Mr. Smarty-pants whipped out when confronted by Soup King made me wonder if I could wheedle a return policy on a defective child after all. I can be convincing at times. Then again, to whom would I return him?
The clothes got folded, without bloodshed, which is more a testament to my exhaustion and self-restraint than any decrease in their ongoing bickering.
This morning I mused as I drove to work. Were my brother, sister, and I really that bad? I recall a few arguments that devolved into punching and kicking, but those were not the norm. Generally fear of reprisal and murder by our parents prompted quick apologies and the matter was somehow resolved to everyone’s mutual compromise and partial dissatisfaction. Maybe I’m imagining a rosier past. Here are a few things I will admit occurred, and while funny as hell, were not really all that nice at the time.
In no particular order….
1) When I acquired bunk beds my bro and I found endless entertainment climbing to the top and leaping off. Before the years of pre-teen angst, no fun was complete unless all of us participated. Therefore we convinced our little sister (roughly 4 or 5 yrs old at the time) to do the same. She was scared and didn’t really want to do it. We goaded and convinced to the point of putting pillows on the floor for her to land on. While we let her land without incident a time or two to lull her, we then snatched away the pillows as soon as she jumped. I don’t recall serious trauma ever occurring, but she probably thought we were attempting to murder her. From our viewpoint we were entertained by the hysterics that resulted and thought we were teaching her to be brave.
2) We convinced my little sis that the dolls and stuffed animals were alive and moved when you weren’t looking. Really, my bro did the convincing. I just went along. We then proceeded to mock her for falling for it. She was five. We were mean.
3) My bro once convinced me that aliens had landed in the back yard. He totally had me until the part where he went w/them on their ship. He didn’t let me live it down for YEARS.
4) There was an unending diary war. We’d pick the lock of a sibling’s diary, read it, then tease them about the contents. My bro got smart rather quickly and stopped writing in his. DOH! Me, I simply threatened to sit on whomever read mine and then tried to hide it well. (That worked until he hit about eleven, at which point despite weighing like twenty pounds less than me and being several inches shorter he could pick me up, give me a piggy back ride, or even do a push-up with me on his back. I was extremely impressed by the last feat and thought twice from then on about making him REALLY mad.)
5) My bro and I constantly made fun of my sis’s frizzy hair. Nowadays she knows how to style naturally curly hair and is not subject to the haircuts of our mother’s choice. I envied the amount of hair and the natural curl for years, until I realized I don’t have the patience for dealing with that much hair. When she was a teen, rather than wear a pony-tail when she needed to style her hair quickly, she’d pile it into this half-loop-pony-tail thing. Not quite a bun, not quite a pony-tail, it kept her hair out of the way, but didn’t exactly shout “Stylish”. My bro named it or alternatively referred to it as a bird sanctuary. I couldn’t help it; I laughed my ass off.
6) In case you hadn’t noticed the trend, we picked on my poor sis A LOT. To be fair, if she seemed genuinely very upset I stepped in and tried to balance the scales, switching to “her side” of an argument or whatever it took to make sure she wasn’t irreparably scarred for life. One of the longest running inside jokes that never failed to rile her during our pre-teen and teen years actually got started by our dad. (We simply perpetuated it.) My dear sis had a gullible streak a mile wide when she was a kid, which often left her wide open to jokes. One day at the store she begged our dad for a bottle of no-frizz spray gel for her hair. She said something worthy of a dumb blond joke, which I no longer recall, and thus the “No ditz spray” joke was born (complete with miming the pumping of a mythical spray bottle).
7) The one that always makes people say “Do what?” is the time my bro and I convinced poor sis that a burp could pinch you. Truly yours, in an effort to stay ahead of her little bro, could (and still can) burp on command. He stood either beside or slightly behind sis and pinch her when I did the burping. Bro would have totally kept it up, but I couldn’t keep up the joke. I laughed and laughed and we didn’t let her live that one down.
8) You know how younger siblings like to tag along? Well, my sis was no exception. I desperately wanted “mature” teen time (you can laugh…I am) as I rode bikes with my friend around the neighborhood. Little sis on her little one-speed bike begged to come along. I always relented, but then nine times out of ten, at some point my friend and I would challenge her to a race, giving her head start. Only, while she was peddling as fast as she could, we turned ours in the opposite direction and took off. She always found me (I didn’t really hide. The guilt kicked in.).
9) My bro found it hilarious to refer to our room as “no panty land”. No, it had absolutely nothing to do with OUR clothing, but rather, our dolls. Back in those days dolls came equipped with little tidy whities, which we somehow always lost. Nothing got us girls fired up as much as his slight against our dolls and their domain. (I think mostly it was because we couldn’t come up with a sufficiently insulting reference for HIS room and stuffed animal collection.)
10) When my bro was a grand age of about two, he had a brief fascination with the toilet (which included taste testing the water). He swiped my brand new cow-girl dolls, undressed them, and flushed their boots down the toilet. For revenge I gave his unicorn a haircut.
The hair was once 3x that long. At least he still had the unicorn.
Even with all of that, I still think we got along better than my kids.