Growing up with my special brother created some interesting roles for me as I am certain others in my situation can identify with. First, for me anyway, was that of little sister since I was born a couple of years after he was, and second, that of “big sister”. Confusing? Nah. You tend to become a kind of role model for the other sibling since they tend to have a a younger way of thinking. My brother does. In his eyes, I could do no wrong, even could do my share of stupid. He never liked it when I got scolded but then again, siblings have that love-hate relationship going on between them. They hate when one gets on their nerves but love them othewise. (Just so you know we did have fun together, can’t say having my brother was “work”.)
Paul and I spent time playing together, outside and inside. We learned to get dirty in the mud, ride bikes, fish, even learned to go out of town and not be scared to be away from momma. Maybe we were each other’s security blankets. Yes, I had friends of my own, who sometimes included Paul. And sometimes not, you know, girl stuff. And Paul would take a trip with one of our uncles for a solo trip just for him. Best kind of time he could ever have.
In a way, an obligation to protect my brother just became natural. Often fearing that that harm would come to him unless I was there to be the barricade, the shield that abosorbed the hurt and allowed him to not feel any. Quite a task, and yes I did my best. Those who mocked him, I gave dirty looks to, thinking to myself, why can’t they understand, he’s human. Don’t they get it? What’s wrong with them? Secretly I wanted to smack the nastiness out of the intentionally stupid comments, the purposeful ignorant, but in the end I never did. I’d always be relieved when an opened minded individual would see Paul for the wonderful guy that he is. Let him show his sweet soul.The nicer side of life.
Paul and I had resversed roles. He looked up to me. He didn’t give me advice on dating, on how to succeed in high school, or any other subject an older siblng might of use for. I was the one he modeled after to some degree. He watched to see what I thought about what was going on the world, about different people, particularly singers, and actors, even about family matters. Hard role to achieve and he did a better job than I did. We both learned the same lessons in church, the same beautiful hymns, and he still loves the classics, such as “Amazing Grace”. That song still makes me cry, can anyone guess why?
Coparenting with my momma seemed to be part of the life I had with Paul while I lived at home. Understood, that when momma wasn’t there, well, I was in charge. Stranger comes to the door, they can turn around and go. Take a message. Keep the doors locked. Always keeping my ears tuned for anything strange and if something had to be done, making sure Paul was taken care of.
Looking at others who have brothers and sisters who aren’t special like my brother, well, I guess that would be nice. Being able to talk adult to adult and being “wise advice” by the the one who has already had the experience, the who looks out for you. Then again, I have no known no other cirmcumstance, no other way of living.
Being both little and big sister at the same time can be rough and sometimes tiring, maybe to the point of wanting to cry and say “why me?” but then I stop myself and say “why not?” Paul is like everyone else, having his sad moments, his not so nice moods, and his laughing moments when you might want to see what’s up. The laughter meaning something funny is going on like maybe he is watching a comedy like Laurel and Hardy. Paul makes my dual roles both hard and worth it and would want to change him or the way our life has been? I’d go back and live it all over again, with him in all the laughing, irritating, sad, adventurous moments with those sparkling blue eyes that laugh on thier own. The title of my book, This is My Normal, is an essay about Paul and growing up with him. Saying “this is my sister, Leslie” is the best compliment I could ever get from my big brother.