Tuesday, May 17, 2005

careful what you ask for

when i was four, i started harassing my parents for a sibling. what i didn't know was that the cells were dividing as i whined.

i was pretty precocious and extremely chatty. i never wanted to miss anything and i never wanted to sleep. and i was DAMN bossy. unfortunately, when your pals are inanimate objects and imaginary friends don't hang around, even the power of pretend can get old. i needed a playmate.

every time i would beg for a baby, they explained that it was entirely up to me. my mother, who has always been a pro at psychological warfare, would smile sweetly and explain my options.

she laid it all out for me. if i wanted a sibling, i'd have to be good -- and not just putting away toys and finishing food -- really good. only deserving kids get baby brothers and sisters. it's a privilege. and a responsibility. she wasn't even sure i could handle it. she had just caught me sneaking into the pantry and taking a swig from aunt jemima. if i were going to have new buddy, i wouldn't be able to sneak stuff; i'd have to share. we're talking EVERYTHING. there is no 'mine' in brothers and sisters; if the baby wanted something, i'd have to give it up, at least for a little while. that includes smelly strawberry shortcake figurines, jump ropes and especially dolls who say 'maaa-mmaa' when you make her sit up. i might even have to share daddy.

after some thought, i was fine with that. going part-time on toys would totally be worth it if i had someone who actually talked back. and dad was cool, but i already had to find my own entertainment during the evening news anyway.

the second round had tougher questions. if it were a girl, could i share my clothes? even the spinny jean skirt that my mother had to wash when i was sleeping? even the jangly bangles my grandmother sent for my birthday? even the shiny shoes with the sparkly laces?

that was an easy one: i'd just ask for a brother. i wasn't giving up the spinny skirt for anybody.

the final challenge was presented with the gravity of a world-saving space mission. should i accept it, there would be no turning back. there are no returns at the baby store. in fact, this kid would be my responsibility. mom and dad would take care of him, but they aren't around all the time. if i wanted this baby so bad, i'd have to watch out for him and make sure he never gets hungry or hurt or sad. ever. all i had to do was pray.

i took this very seriously. i put my hands together every night and asked for a baby brother. i really wanted one. becky next door had just gotten one, and he kept her so busy she couldn't come out and play, even on saturday.

needless to say, my prayers were answered. and i was determined to be in on it all: the holding of bottles, the distracting during changing, the donating of fingers to clasp. i let my mother deal with the noise and the mess, but if i do say myself, i was damn good. i even got to choose his nickname: mickey mouse, even though they shortened it to mickey. i didn't even get that upset when people fawned all over him instead of me; but if they were hogging, they'd hear it. of course he's gorgeous, you think i'd pick an ugly one? hello! dammit, i did all the work to get this kid, i wasn't about to let some auntie leave her nasty lipstick all over him.

after a couple of months, his condition was diagnosed and things got tough. very hard. on all of us. there were long stretches of time when i didn't see my mother. we don't have family here so i stayed with friends. and dad was too busy shuttling back and forth to have too much quality time. i was so upset i got a fever. but mostly because i couldn't be there. who knows what kind of clowns were messing with my baby? do they even know that the brown bear with the embroidered nose is his favorite? that he likes the feel of the soft blue blanket fringe on his cheek? that he can only fall asleep if someone pats a constant rhythm on his back?

it was all good until he got a mind of his own. he obviously didn't understand the whole sharing concept. he only wanted my stuff when i wanted to play with it. once he learned to talk back there has been no reprieve. and GOD did he have our parents wrapped around his little finger. there's a very good reason i called him 'highness' for more than ten years. he. always. gets. his. way.

let's just say that there were a lot of unfair deals at our house.

'c'mon sweetie, you are older. try to understand.'
'you know how he is, once he has his mind set on something, no one can change it.'
'just give in now, please. he'll forget all about it after 15 minutes. it'll be a lot easier on us all. please?'

that was when he was 16 and wrangling for the car.

i had moments of being left out, but i didn't let them completely bring me down. and i can honestly say i've never felt a lack of anything. i learned strategy at an early age. you know, the do-what-they-tell-you-for-all-the-little-bullshit-and-play-that-card-when-you're going-for-something-really-big act. my brother never did grasp that concept and had to earn stuff through sheer will. of which he has plenty. but he's a sportsman -- he's never once played the sick card.

no matter what went on between us, to the outside world, we were united. i could make fun of his dopey haircut all day, but the second some sixth-grader looked at him crooked, she was gonna get a foot in her ass. and that smart mouth has come to my aid many a time when i was mocked by some outsider and left trying to figure out something to say for 20 minutes afterward.

i have never missed a single big test or surgery. when i was barred for being too young, he refused to cooperate until i was allowed into the room. food doesn't taste good until he is able to eat again. and he still always asks for me when he's coming to. (though now i think the girlfriend is gaining on me.)

but somehow i can't help but think the early childhood brainwashing worked a little too well. i think i subconsciously still believe i'm responsibile for the kid. i have bailed him out of so much trouble: with parents, speeding tickets, bounced checks, phone overages. (but even sisterly love only goes so far. i didn't bring my lunch for six months to pay for leisurely afternoon phone conversations.) i nag him about drinking, but bought him a case for his 21st. i help him with school stuff and listen to his woman troubles. i worry about him more than i'd like to admit and sometimes even sneak in to check on him if he's sleeping a little too silently. i know it's crazy, but it's what i do.

maybe it's because he's far away and i rarely see him. maybe it's because he's all i'll really have when the folks retire to bermuda. but i'd like to think it's because he's going to use his smarts and his skills to get a fat schmoozy job, let me summer at his villa in cinqueterra and put my kids through the colleges of their choice.

hey, every investor hopes for a return.

13 comments:

jazz said...

oh, i felt like my brother always got what he wanted and i never got anything. life was always so unfair! damn little brothers. but at the same time i'm so overprotective of him...

omar said...

I am the little brother in my fam. It's pretty sweet. I'm not sure my brother was praying for my arrival though...

Modern Viking said...

Wow, they really made you work for it. I don't even remember my parents warning me about my little brother. Mom and dad just went to the hospital one day and came back a few days later with a smelly little package and called it a brother. Then they did it again 2 years later.

We always got along ok, but I never let them forget who was boss. I think I made a pretty good boss though. I had the top bunk, but I let them use it as a fort once in a while. And occasionally I let them fight over the last popsicle or the last slice of pizza. But you know I never let them get near my Super Mario hat (the male equivalent of the spinny skirt). I just couldn't trust those runts with all that firepower...

Psychic Pimp said...

I feel ya. To this day they are still 'my kids'.

WallStr said...

Before I was born, my mom would ask my older brother (by 3 years) if he wants a baby sister. His reply was always: "NO, I want my teddy bear!". So when the joyous time came for me to come into the world, my brother assumed I was his teddy bear.
One time, he painted my face like an indian and shoved spaghetti down my throat. Now, that doesn't seem so bad, even normal for an older brother to do, but I was 3 months old at the time. If he had his way I would be his stuffed teddy bear right now!

Anonymous said...

Akshay

Cadiz kudos to you for being a loving older sister. Your brother should kiss your feet and thank god he has a sis like you. I would.

I have a sis like you but the one thing I always appreciated about her besides being a loving sister, she always instilled in me the desire to be successful.

She was the one who always told me when I was going astray, never forget that your parents brought you into this world, you got to return them by making them proud and living up to the family name.

A lot of pressure to live up to.

I always thank god that she is there for me through thick and thin.

I have seen how much pain my sis goes through for me. I never want to bring tears to her eyes. I hope you brother realises what he has.

cadiz12 said...

aww, that is so sweet.

i hope to get my reward in the form of diamonds.

:)

Anonymous said...

Akshay

I would like to thank you personally for your compliments on Ale's blog. I really do appreciate it.

girlspit said...

I think my brother was mostly disgusted with my parents when I was born, basically because he thought they were so old at 32. He was 11, so our dynamic has always been slightly different. I didn't have to share Strawberry Shortcake or the car.

However, I do worry about him the way you worry about your bro. I'm know that even if he doesn't tell you, he appreciates all the love and support you've given him.

Ale said...

Girl, I would be careful with that... that is... investing with hopes of return--- apparently my aunt (my dad's older sister) STILL tries to guilt him into doing stuff because when he was little she had to bring him on all her dates, thus not being able to kiss face with all those boys! jsut to let you know its NOT working on my dad....
and by the way- when i was little i BEGGED my parents for an OLDER brother!!! well i got a younger brother... i guess the request was not desyphered correctly-- whachagonna do...--

cadiz12 said...

that's what sucks about being older. by the time the kid can reciprocate, they either have no memory of what you did for them or they shrug their shoulders and say 'oh well.'

Jon said...

I think having a good relationship with your siblings is important. I’ve got a great relationship with all three of my sisters, so I think I’m pretty lucky. I’ve got no brothers though, so I can’t really comment on that.

Having said that, messing with your template is super easy and you won’t regret it.

Anamika said...

Hey!

After all that you are actually asking for a return on the investment??? Are you really? Coz I can hear all the returns that you have got all throgh life :)

Makes me wish I had a younger brother to get all upset about!