I was a challenging child and a head-strong teenager. I’m the only girl of 4, so I argue that my uniqueness made me appear more difficult than I actually was. My poor dad did not know what to do with this ball of emotion who made every decision based on feelings versus critical thinking (or even plain old regular thinking). Aside from the natural trials that came with being the new and strange creature in a house full of testosterone, my dad and I spent many years figuring out how to navigate each other’s shared stubbornness. My adolescence was spent butting heads with my father like the bighorn sheep you see on the Discovery channel. He was constantly trying to protect me from myself and I was constantly insisting on being myself.
Then there is my little brother.
Thank the good Lord my parents had my younger brother to remind them that they had 1 more opportunity to raise a normal child. He jokes that he learned at a young age to sit back and observe me…and then do the exact opposite. My little brother is one of the kindest, supportive, thoughtful men you will ever meet, and I humbly like to think it’s because of me. He patiently listened to me cry over every boy who didn’t like me back, hugged me through each world-crushing A-, and perpetually encouraged me through years of bad hair and acne. It’s obvious that I was selflessly preparing him for marriage with a “How to Listen and Talk to Women” bootcamp of sorts….
This might be a good time to say “You’re welcome Ryan!”
I’m sure you all have had conversations in your lives that go something like this, “So and so is an incredible person, especially considering the environment they grew up in. It’s amazing how well they’ve done for themselves!” This is how I feel about my brother growing up with me. It could have gone 2 ways. 1. He could have avoided anything that resembled emotions or feelings or femaleness for that matter OR 2. He could have chosen to become strong and kind and believe in the existence of reasonable women. Thankfully he chose the latter, but he wasn’t always the angelic brother I’m painting him out to be.
One night I was having a particularly heated debate with my dad, with lots of eye-rolling and sounds like “pshhhh” (both coming from me of course). I’m sure the argument had something to do with my dad not understanding how much I liked the much older guy who wanted to take me to the drive-in movies and that my love life would forever be destroyed if he didn’t let me go. The volume of my crying and the shade of red filling my father’s face had reached epic proportions. It was at this moment of intense sound and color that my little brother (my teenage antithesis)…my sweet, yet shamelessly crafty brother walked in and said, “Dad, can I have your keys so I can wash your car?”
After talking myself down from the “strangle my brother” cliff, I decided it was time for me to sit back, observe, and learn from him. This might be a good time to say, “Thank you Ryan!”