Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sister Swooning

Question: What's wrong with these pictures?

Answer: They depict brothers, but NO SISTERS!

(1961-ish: Left to right Betsy, the dog; me, 5; Stephan, 6; Michael, 10 and Christopher, 2 and 2007: Christopher, me, Michael and Stephan. Notice the Bavarian loden coats?!)

I don't remember when Chris was born, but I have a feeling that I was really disappointed that he was a baby brother instead of a baby sister. Ever since I can remember, I have always wanted -- no, yearned for) a sister. And that feeling has never gone away. I still wish I had one as much as I ever did.

I love my brothers, really I do. They taught me all kinds of things that I probably would never have learned from a sister. They taught me all about rope swings (let go right at the apex of the arc) and blue belly lizards (they go to sleep if you rub their blue bellies), about de-shelling snails (we won't even go there) and even about sex (I first overheard the term '69' when my older brothers, hiding and whispering in a playground tunnel, discussed it like big-shots, pretending they knew what it was).

And because I had three brothers, guys never intimidated or mystified me, and in high school I was more comfortable around a bunch of goofy guys than around a bunch of giggly girls. (Still am... and so are my daughters.)

But as cool as Michael, Stephan and Chris were (and are), they're brothers. In triplicate. One or two would have sufficed just fine, but no -- I had to have three.

Michael was the ring leader, not just of my brothers, but of the whole neighborhood. When he told my other brothers to straddle me and loogey on me (or, perhaps worse, loogey almost on me), they obeyed him blindly. When he told me in front of other neighborhood boys that ferocious tigers lived in the large, dark, ivy-covered pipes next to the path by our home, the kids nodded in agreement and I almost wet my pants with fear (from that day on, I never walked down that path; I only ran).

Stephan, who is only 10 months older than me (something about a very Catholic doctor, telling Mom they'd discuss birth control at the next postpartum visit) was completely different than Michael -- painfully shy and socially awkward. In high school, when I desperately wanted to be a popular cheerleader, I suggested (no, pleaded) that Stephan go to the alternative high school, just so he wouldn't embarrass me with his Bill-Gates-meets-Woody-Allen personality. Now, when I watch Aleks and Kat as best friends and each others' most fervent supporters, I feel badly about my rejection of Stephan when we were younger.

Chris was just a pesky baby brother when I was little, the one who "stole" my baby sister from me. I don't think I ever really forgave him, and even when he had his third daughter, I caught myself thinking 'See, even your kids got to have sisters!' He and I both had the same major in college (developmental psych and education) and for years into adulthood we had vicious arguments about the best way to teach -- and to raise -- kids. He's a wonderful teacher and a fabulous daddy; I guess I taught him a thing or two after all! (I wish!)

All three of my brothers live in the Bay Area, but the only time they ever see each other is when I come visit and organize a get-together. You know why? Because they're guys! But if I had a sister -- especially now -- we'd surely be neighbors and best friends, right?

My sister would have been my maid of honor at my wedding. Right?

My sister would have been with me when I birthed my children. Right?

My sister would have come right over whenever I needed a womanly sympathetic ear and a sisterly hug as a grown-up. Right?

My sister would have been right in my head, understanding the profound impact of Mom's death. Right?

Which makes me wonder.... would Mom maybe have liked her better? And... would she have been Daddy's girl instead of me? Would she have been smarter... and prettier than me? Would she have been athletic and long-legged, like Mom was? And would boys in high school have had a crush on the cuter, more athletic sister?


Did I ever tell you how amazingly cool my brothers are?

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Caffienated Cowgirl said...

Hey, I know where you're coming from. I am an only girl with two older brothers. When I was younger, I so wanted a sister. I think I sought out female counterparts to fill the void.

And then I got older...and realized being an "only" girl made me a different person from those who had sisters...

And I've never looked back since :o)

Great post!

Guilty Secret said...

Great post :)

I also have three brothers... but I have two sisters too (sorry!) - the Catholics were right there in my family, you see.

I liked the conclusions you came too. Everything would be so different. You might have even hated that little sister! Being the youngest, I bet she would have got an awful lot of attention and was bound to be a daddy's girl...

You look very happy with your brothers in those photos :)

Jen said...

I had the sister, and always wanted the brothers, lol! I had a male cousin who I absolutely worshipped. But also, my sister was 11 years older than me, so that was different, too.

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