"I don't believe an accident of birth makes people brothers or sisters. It makes them silbings, gives the a mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition that people have to work at."
- Maya Angelou
And, oh boy, did we have to work at it :)
I am the oldest of three children. There is me, Ben, and Tim. Growing up, we pestered,teased, screamed at, and tormented eachother. We were siblings...no doubt about it. Somewhere along the line though we grew up. Sibling rivalries turned into friendships. Suddenly my "little" brothers weren't so little anymore. They are two very different guys, but they are two pretty important guys to me and two great Uncles to Ian.
Tim is the baby and will be turning 21 in 12 days. Tim was born when I was 5 and already used to being an only child. I frequently asked mom to send him back. When those pleas were unanswered, I switched to teasing him unmercifully. He will quite often tell people about the summer he was 4 (and I was 9). Bowl cuts were in style at the time and mom had Tim sporting one. It made him look like a minature version of a member of the Beatles. So, I decided to tell him that he had been abandoned by a member of the band and adopted by our parents. I also told him that one day they were going to come back and get him and make him live in England. (Shameful I know....) Eventually I resigned myself to the fact that he was here to stay.
Even at a young age, our roles were a little reversed. I was older true...but he was the brother. He was the boy. That meant he had to protect me. I was a major chicken as a child. I didn't like to be away from my parents overnight. I hated scary movies. Even things that weren't scary struck fear in me. Not Tim...he was boy to the core and had no fear. We went away for a week with my grandparents and I was miserable. I was homesick and scared a lot of the trip. Tim (who was maybe 6) sat quietly while I tried to convince my grandparents that it was him who was homesick. They knew better (I was the one crying...not him) and had no sympathy. Tim stuck by me and tried to get me to laugh. He never made fun of me or ratted me out as a cry baby to mom. He just looked out for me. Same thing happened not long after when we watched ERNEST SCARED STUPID. Dang troll in the movie scared the crap out of me. So, I went to mom and dad and told them it scared Tim and that he wanted to sleep on the floor in my room. They asked him if he wanted to do that. He looked at me, smiled, and told them yes. He didn't tell them I was the baby. Instead, he slept on the floor infront of the closet doors to keep the troll from getting out. Our whole lives have been that way. Tim would never rat me out.
Like all siblings, we have had our differences. When I hit college and he was in late middleschool/early highschool, we really had nothing in common. We didn't hang out nor did we want to. I saw him when I was home for breaks and he would come see my new apartments when I moved. That was about all there was to it. Then he graduated highschool and got a job. He also started working on the same haunted house as me. I suddenly realized that my baby brother wasn't a baby...he was a guy. And he was pretty cool. We had similar taste in movies and music. He and Drew got along great and started hanging out a good bit. Next thing I knew, he was a confidant. I would call him before I called most of my girlfriends to tell him what was up. I found myself asking for his advice and, even though he was 5 years younger than me and at a different point in his life, I found that it was really good advice majority of the time.
Tim is living with us for a while right now. It's really cool to have a great friend/brother there all the time. He adores Ian and Ian adores him. They light up when they see eachother. For a guy who always said he never liked kids, he is pretty comfortable with Ian. I know that soon he is going to move out and get his own place. Its the way of things and it is getting near that time for him. I am so very proud of him and the things he is doing with his life. And I will be proud of him when he has his own place too. BUT- I think I will be just a little bit sad the time has come. I have liked living with my him now much more than when we were kids. And I think that's because now he is not only my brother...he is my friend.
Ben and I have always been the most different. Ben came to our family when he was 10 and I was almost 16. Our family adopted Ben from Texas. He and Tim clicked instantly. And while we understood and loved eachother because we were family, we didn't bond as quickly as he and Tim because of the age difference. I moved out 2 years after Ben moved in. I was ready to explore the world and leave my "boring" family behind. Eventually I realized that that boring family would be the people who were there for me through thick or thin. Ben was no exception to that. If I need him, he would be there. Like Tim, he bailed me out by helping at the haunted house on more than one instance and on no notice. For Ben and I, though, we were still working to find that bond.
The bond was solidified at Ben's graduation. I can give the specific moment when we had a small conversation. It would not have meant much to the outsider, but to us it spoke volumes. We knew that we had to work harder at being better friends. The sibling bond is there. He is my brother. It doesn't matter where he lived the first part of his life or when he came to live with us. He is just as much my brother as Tim. We just have to put aside our strong personalities and do some give and take. And that is exactly what we have done. We text and talk more now. He comes to dinner at least once a week, but the best insight you can get into Ben is the way he is with Ian. He is so proud to carry him around and show off his nephew. He makes sure that when we are all together we get pics of him with Ian so he can share them with his Facebook friends. He is truly an awesome uncle and a great brother. I couldn't be more blessed with the siblings I have.