But how do they know?

Tornado E: But I want a baby girl!

Me: Why?

Tornado E: Because I want to dance with her when she gets older!

Awww!

Me: Well, it’s probably going to be a baby boy.

Tornado E: How can you tell?

Me: Well, the doctor took a special camera and looked.  She’s pretty sure it’s a boy.

The Husband: Probably?  Pretty sure?

Me: Shut up.  They make mistakes.

Ok, maybe I’m not as resigned to this boy thing as I pretend to be.

But the next person to ask if I’m disappointed, I’ll punch in the face.  Luckily they have only asked my mom, who waves them off with a “Of course not, she’s having a baby.”  But then Christmas is coming with all that family.  This may be an interesting family get-together.

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Was that supposed to be a secret?

Ever have one of those moments when you know you just might have gone too far.  Or maybe it’s just me because I’m always chewing on my foot.  When I was young, I would cross that line and look back a mile later and say, “Crap, was there something I shouldn’t have said?”

There I was, standing in the middle of a ring of women, conducting a bridal shower game.  Now some of these women had known me since I was a baby; while, others were my soon-to-be sister-in-law’s friends, which I just met an hour or so before at the beginning of the party.  I was conducting the games because I could lead without stepping on any one’s toes.  We were playing a game in which everyone had to guess how many questions my sister-in-law would know about my brother, who had answered them the night before.  Questions included his favorite food, book, and such.  But we had a four-way tie, and I had to break it some how.  I had the winners guess if my sister-in-law would get the bonus question.

Me: What was my brother’s doll’s name?

A collective “WHAT?” settled over the room, except for those few women who knew my brother since he was a baby.

K: (didn’t blink) Buddy.

Me: (smiling) No.  Not his My Buddy.  His first doll.  The one he loved.

K: What?  He had another doll?

My mom: Actually, he had three.  The My Buddy.  A Wrestling Buddy.  And this one.

K: Then I don’t know.  I only knew of Buddy.

Me: You’re going with Buddy then?

K: Yes.

Me: It was Paula.

“WHAT?”
K: I’ve never heard that one.

Me: It was a boy doll, and T was only three or four.  But since I had dolls, he had to have one.  He begged and begged for one.  So that Christmas, one grandma got him a homemade boy doll, which he named Paula.  He loved that doll.

Then I remembered I was not alone with K, pouring over embarrassing baby pictures.  I was in the middle of ring of women.  Many of these women were friends of my soon-to-be-sister-in-law, my boyfriend’s girlfriend.  Now they knew he had a boy doll named Paula.  Good thing we don’t live in the same house any more.

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1.2.3.4. I declare sibling war.

It happened.  It finally happened.  Ok, maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised. 

 

Last weekend we were visiting some friends, and in their backyard was a swing set with a slide.  The boys were so excited to play with it.  Eventually Evan discovered a new game o0f rolling cars down the slide to Sean who laughed with glee, giving me the car to hand back to Evan to start the process all over again.   Evan kept in his other hand a purple Halloween flashlight that he found and wanted to carry around the house.  So after a dozen times of rolling down the car, Evan realized that the flashlight was round like wheels.  Let’s see what happens.

 

Success.  The flashlight rolled perfectly into Sean’s waiting hands, but rather than hand the flashlight to Mommy, Sean’s chubby hands closed around the flashlight.  Then Sean turned and started pumping those thick legs for all they were worthy.  Evan let out a cry and threw himself down the slide.  This is bad.

 

Since my legs are longer than the boys are tall, I shot past Evan with ease.  Sean had the element of surprise even though he still has that waddle run with his arms pumping side to side.  I caught up to him before he rounded the pool, shouting to Evan to let Mommy handle this.  I grabbed Sean and set him down, kneeling to look eye to eye. 

 

“Evan was playing with this.  This is Evan’s toy.  When he is done with it, you can play with it.  Now give it to Mommy.”

 

I know the only reason Sean wanted it was because Evan had it.  I pried the flashlight out of Sean’s fingers.  I handed it to Evan.  Sean’s hand shot out and grabbed the flashlight.  They tug-a-war-ed it.  I grabbed Sean, pulling him off the flashlight.  Sean wailed as though his puppy died.  Then I carried him inside and dumped him into my husband’s lap.

 

“What’s wrong, Sean,” asked my husband.

 

“He’s acting like a second born.”

 

***

I shouldn’t have been so surprised.  Maybe I should have been surprised over how long they were friends.  According to family legend my brother and I declared war much earlier on.

 

I was sitting, watching TV, holding my Teddy, sucking on my pacifier, minding my own business.  When my brother, my non-sucking pacifier brother, crawled over, he took the pacifier out of my mouth and crawled away.  When he was safely past arms length, he sat down, waved the pacifier in my direction to make sure I knew he had it, and stuck it in his mouth.  Are you kidding me?!  And I did what any toddler would do.  I started to cry.  And plot revenge.

 

And then it was a free for all after that.  Little moon-shape scars from fingernails.  Clumps of hair pulled from the root.  Barbie doll heads, hot wheel wheels, broken banks, broken toys.  Lies, blaming, tattling, arguments.  Wrestling matches that went on hours after the favorite TV show was over and unwatched.  A malignant hate that spread amongst the three of us in all consuming war that finally cumulated to the devastating head of-

 

Actually we eventually grew out of it in our late teens, early twenties, and we actually call one another and hang out.  It’s weird.  Of course, the minute the parents leave us alone with the TV and remote, we start arguing again.

 

***

 

So now whatever Evan has, Sean must have  it NOW.  If Evan is eating something, even if Sean has his own or already ate his own, he must have Evan’s NOW.  Not that Evan doesn’t just run by to hit, push, kick Sean whenever he gets the urge.  You can actually see it in Evan’s eyes when he’s decided to do something to Sean.

 

The other day, Sean bent down to examine something on the ground.  Evan took the opportunity to go behind Sean and start kicking him in the bum.  Sean was as unmoved as a rock.  I was horrified, and Evan spent sometime in the time out chair.

 

Or the day when Evan refused to nap and fell asleep on the couch watching football with his dad.  Out of nowhere, Sean came over and just started wailing on Evan, who slept through the whole thing.  We would scold Sean and distract him, but two minutes later he’s getting in his blows.  Hey, show some respect.  At least, do it when your parents aren’t watching!

 

So I’m knee deep in sibling rivalry.  Part of it’s my fault because I can’t seem to remember to buy two of everything.  Why the hell didn’t I buy two Wall*e’s.  And Bill Cosby may be right; eventually I won’t care about justice, just peace.

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The View of Siblings

Saturday night before the game, we tailgated.  While I tried to corral Sean and convince Evan to eat, my brother and a couple of his friends showed up to liberate us of some of the food.  Proving that he is growing up, my brother also brought some beer to share.  As Sean decided to play in the dirt, I stood talking with one of the friends who was a bit tipsy and always flamboyant.  In the middle of the conversation, ranging from his reading only Maxim and his business plan of opening up a baby proofing store, he told me how cool it was that my brother and I got along and how my brother always says the nicest things about me and how I’m the serious one, the one with goals.  Excuse me? 

 

If I didn’t know the friend better, I would have thought he was a recent addition to my brother’s circle.  But the friend in question has been hanging out with my brother since he graduated high school.  And like most of my brother’s friends, my parents know and like this kid.  My mom claimed, on Saturday night, that the friend was welcomed to come by even with out my brother.  (It should be noted that though they still don’t think things through thoroughly, my brother’s friends are a bunch of comedians.  Think the show Jackass but with a cute lovable little brother side.)

 

So that’s when it hit me.  We are truly different from what others see of us.

 

I.  The Serious One.  The One With Goals.  Ok, granted in high school, I put my head down and rushed through high school, determined to get to the other side, collage.  I worked my butt off to get good grades, doing my time in National Honor Society.  I lettered in swim team three times as well as drama.  I became straight edge and spent many a Saturday night babysitting to make money towards college.  I went away for college, working my ass off because I was paying for it and I loved it. 

 

But me serious?  I was doing run by knockings between reading Goethe.  After freshman year, I adopted the theory that if I didn’t know my stuff by finals, I was in deep sh- anyways, so why stress.  I told other students that I had a fake major, one that could be purchased for 500 bucks through a mail course.  I did pranks that would later put me on probation, and I ran a miniature theft ring, stealing plastic gems from Disneyland.  (All in the name that it was ridiculous to charge five bucks for a bag of plastic that cost pennies to make; not real sound logic and incredibly stupid and self- centered.)  Hell, my best friend and I stole the local Republican headquarters’ Bush/Cheney 2000 sign that was 3 by 6 feet and ran it the several blocks back to the car because we didn’t have a car.  Before kids, I believed a healthy lunch was a carton of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and I threw a Halloween party in March.  I can quote whole episodes of The Simpsons, and I break out in songs and dances.  I’m completely not serious.  And if I was good with my goals, I would have a published book by now like one of my college friends.

 

My brother, now he’s serious.  Ok, granted he went through an alcohol-consuming, pot-smoking, girl-chasing phase, but underneath it all was the calculating, logical, serious brother.  He has always had his eye on the prize, imagining what business venture would make him the cash he wanted.  He’s a math wiz, wanting to major in engineering.  He loves cars.  He went from engineering to biology to finally business as majors.  Business!  Does that sound as non-serious as a creative writing degree?  He’s getting a minor in Spanish.  How absolutely practical, which compares to my two semesters of Italian.  He has his goals lined up, and he knocks them down.  He may have spent a semester in Florida partying, but he spent a summer working for my husband while selling jewelry on the weekends. 

 

It’s just amazed me that we see each other so differently.  We are pretty different.  I was the creative writer, wishing to be an artist; he was the designer of cars.  (I swear he was the first one to think of a Hummer limo.)  He puts people at ease; while, I am completely tactless.  He was the cool one, refusing to acknowledge me at school unless he needed a ride, and I was the one hanging out with all the nerds with enough pull to keep people from beating up my brother when he stepped on the wrong toes.  School and athletics came easy to my brother; I struggled to figure out how to learn.  As we grew older, college fit me like a glove, and my brother tried to understand the new concept of college learning.  When I was debating on going and getting my PhD in women’s studies, my brother was contemplating a career in breast augmentation.  At one point, I swore there couldn’t be any more different siblings.

 

But at least it’s nice to hear my brother likes me.  I like him.  It took years for us to get to this point.  At one point we both wished the other would just fall off the end of the earth.  We fought viciously to my parents’ horror.  But now I call him every week or so, and sometimes he even answers.  Really, he’s a great guy.  I just can’t believe he thinks I’m serious.  I wear fairy shirts for crying out loud.