I grew up with both a brother and a sister whom I admired with every fiber of my being, and, out of that admiration, I subjected them to every possible annoyance a little sister could bring to the party. I feel like I stumbled my way through our relationship, particularly in the grade school years. Flipping back through the memory of growing up with siblings made me think about my daughter and son's current relationship and what I should pass along to my little girl about the topic of brothers. Brothers don’t get as much airtime as the bond between sisters, but there are a few things I want her to know as she grows up.
I'm sure the list will grow, but this is what I want her to remember just to get started:
- Your brother will likely drive too fast. Don’t be afraid to tell him to slow down (LOUDLY) or to tell US when he’s not being safe. This is a "snitch-free zone." There seems to be something about boys and driving that produce a tumultuous mix. Feel free to tell him that boys who drive fast are trying to compensate for some sort of insecurity. That will sting him and will likely slow him down. Remember, you get full tattletale privileges in this category.
- At times in his life, your brother will smell like something from a garbage pit. This is normal. Love him anyway. Don’t worry about reciprocity here. We’ll be encouraging him to love you even when your mood seems like something from a garbage pit.
- Never tell your brother about how your boyfriend/girlfriend has upset you IF YOU HAVE ANY INTENTION of resuming a friendship with that person. You may forgive an offense, but your brother won’t. Don’t underestimate how much your brother is ready to defend you or how difficult it will be for him to forgive those you have hurt you. Yes, sometimes he will be the bane of your existence, but he will also be your most voracious defender. Much of the time, you will think he wants to kill you...until someone crosses you up, and then, for some random reason, he'll want to kill them. No, it doesn't make sense, but it is deep-wired inside him. Lean into it.
- Don’t imitate your brothers eating habits. Period.
- Get to know your brother’s girlfriends and make sure that you build a relationship with whoever will become his wife. The women in the family ultimately make the connections, so make sure that your bond is solid. Your brother will want to know your husband – especially since they’ll be watching a ton of football together at Thanksgiving.
- Your brother is going to know different things from what you know, so listen to him, respect his perspective, and love him even when you disagree.
Oh, and remember, brothers are great at killing gross bugs. Be quick to call on him for this skill - just like I do with your dad.