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.