Sometimes I feel at a real disadvantage being an only child. It seems like there's this whole area of family dynamics that I just don't get. I've never had to fight it out with a sibling for a parent's attention and have rarely had anyone instinctively know my weak spots and flat out go for them. I haven't had to worry about my friends liking my sister better than me or my brother telling some boy that I had a thing for him. I'm totally unprepared for the sibling equation.
Once, years ago, when my kids were arguing and saying hateful, hurtful things to each other, I said (in an anguished voice) to the FG, "Can't they just be nice and treat each other like brothers?" At which point he gave me an incredulous look and said, "They are." He's the oldest of three (four with his step-sister) and the only boy. His sisters tell stories to this day that curl my hair (more than usual), and he has his tales to tell as well. They all think I'm weird for the way I act and I think they treat each other really badly a lot of the time.
I never had to talk over a sibling to make myself heard.
I never had to eat my first helping of dinner really fast so I could beat someone else to seconds.
I lived my entire life never having to hide ice cream in the back of the freezer to keep anyone from finding it.
I never ratted someone out for the sheer hell of it.
And I certainly never tormented someone when they were down just because I was in the mood.
Am I an only child, or what?
(Strictly speaking, I guess I'm technically not an only child, as I have four half brothers and sisters in Michigan from my dad's second marriage. But...I'm ten years older than the oldest one, I only saw them in the summer and it's really complicated. And sad. And a long, long post for one of these days).
Thursday after school Gumby was beat. I'd had to go and give him some allergy medication after lunch, he had a headache and he had a problem. The book report he'd known about for weeks was due first thing Friday and while he was done with the book, he'd been procrastinating about the report. He had a pile of other homework as well and he was mad because I had walked to get them and he wanted to drive home. I explained that my psychic powers were in the shop this week and asked why it is that no matter which way I pick them up - walking or driving - they always think I should have gone the other route.
He was upset enough that he was crying, and this upset me because it's really out of character. I was trying to help him come up with a plan to finish everything when Surfer Dude just decided to pick a fight for the sheer thrill value. Gumby, of course, being on edge anyway, took the bait and before I knew it they were going at it on the sidewalk. Verbally, not physically, but we were heading in that direction fast.
And they fought for the rest of the day. I explained to SD that Gumby was really stressed and maybe he should cut him some slack. So he did. And then Gumby picked a fight. Then I explained to Gumby that SD was trying to be nice and he should lighten up on him a little. So he did. And then SD picked a fight. And so on and so on until SD fell asleep and Gumby plodded on with his homework.
I simply do not get it. What am I missing here ?
Friday, October 12, 2007
Posted by the rotten correspondent at 12:02 AM