Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Other Brother

Reading the stories about Middle Brother and The Kid, it's easy to forget that Middle Brother is called that for a reason. I do have another brother, Youngest Brother. He doesn't feature in my stories as much because I don't get to talk to or see him as much as MB.

I've been meaning to write about YB more, because he's a smart, funny guy who does interesting things, but I often find that I can't get a handle on what I want to say about YB. He's a little bit of a mystery to me. I once told MB that I had the feeling that YB was like a balloon and if we didn't hold onto him tight, he'd just float away.

Family dynamics are endlessly fascinating to me. In that silly pre-marriage class Peter and I had to take, we had to split into groups based on birth order and discuss what it was like to be in our birth order spot and what the other groups were like. I sat with the oldests and it really was like group therapy.

Being the oldest is the toughest - you have to scrap for every right and privilege. Your parents are younger and less well established, so there's not as much money as there is later. You're always the responsible one, always the one who should know better, always the one who has to compromise more.

And the youngest kids? Well they're spoiled and pampered. They're riding their bikes in the street and dating way before we ever were allowed. They have it so easy, it's not even fair.

Of course it's not that simple and your thoughts on it are always going to be influenced by where you are in the birth order. We had to share our group thoughts and the youngests had plenty to say about how it wasn't the cushy life to be in your 20s and still called 'the baby'. About how difficult it was to distinguish yourself when everyone else had already done everything first. About how they sometimes felt like afterthoughts or surprises.

The Brothers, my dad, and I were recently bantering on email. My dad sent a forward of horrible Olan Mills portraits with snarky comments; the subject line was 'You Might Remember Olan Mills'. I did, only because I remembered YB getting photographs there when he was very little. I made a smart remark about how YB got the fancy Olan Mills but MB and I had to make do with Sears.

YB answered back "My baby book is empty. I would gladly give up those bright lights at Olan Mills for a record of existence." I had a chuckle at that (because it's true - I think his name is on his baby book and that's about it while mine is full of extensive documentation of the headlines on my birth date and my first words) and filed the email in my Family folder.

The next day, my father provided YB with a touching and loving record of his existence that made it get a bit dusty in the room for me and MB.


At 20 November 2008 at 08:07, Blogger Babaloo said...

I'm the oldest, too, with one younger brother. I remember the fights for independence well. I always envied my brother being able to just enjoy the rights I had already fought over with my parents.

But, on the other hand, I don't think I'd have wanted to be the younger one either. :)

At 20 November 2008 at 14:12, Blogger laurie said...

i wonder which group the marriage training people would put me in? no. 7 of 10. though maybe in ireland there'd be a lot of us.

my mother filled out the baby books extensively for the first three or four kids, and then started doubling up, using the same three or four books but writing in different colored ink for subsequent kids.

my ink was green. not many entries in green ink.

At 20 November 2008 at 15:51, Blogger Kaycie said...

As a parent of three, I am guilty. Guilty, guilty, guilty. Baby books are over rated.

I am the oldest, and my only daughter is the oldest. I wanted a boy very badly when she was born, simply because I thought I only wanted one child. I am ever thankful she was a girl.

There are rolls of film of her dressed in pink, dressed in blue, dressed in green, dressed like a boy, dressed in my lacy underthings, dressed like Cinderella, or the Swan Princess, or Esmeralda. I have a couple of pictures of the boys, too. Of course, they don't care so much, they're boys. (That's how I get to sleep at night!)

At 21 November 2008 at 15:24, Blogger ped crossing said...

Then there is the story of the crown prince. The older brother who got everything because he was a boy and older and didn't have to fight for a darn thing. Then the younger sister came along and had to fight for every last thing that her brother was just handed.

And it has never changed.

It isn't always a cushy life in baby of the family land.

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