As a former only child, I couldn't stand my siblings — then we became a team
April 10th is National Siblings Day. Here, one contributor gets real about childhood sibling rivalry — and how things change when you get older.
I used to hate my siblings.
Before they were born, there was a time when all was right with the world. Endless gifts from both sets of grandparents (plus one set of great grandparents), non-existent bedtimes, and more peanut butter and bologna sandwiches than you could shake an unplugged joystick at.
Once my younger siblings came into the picture, it was all downhill.
I was an only child for about two years, and it was glorious.
I was spoiled rotten and I loved it. First up was my brother — a little brown ball of boyishness. Thankfully, I was faster and stronger than him in the beginning — so once I established psychological dominance, things got almost back to normal. If I made him cry, I would cry too — so by the time my mother made it upstairs to see what the fuss was all about, there was too much confusion to sort. It wasn’t a complete loss — I still had my own room after all. I put up with my little brother because once I got to my room, I could be alone to plot out elaborate Home Alone-level schemes, hoping to get him shipped off to a different family.
In my room, I still reigned supreme.
Unfortunately, my mother betrayed me once again. This time, she was giving birth to another little girl.
I now had two siblings to doubly forsake my existence. What about me? How could she? No — how DARE she? I could count all the way to 100, for crying out loud. I knew how to calculate exponents. It was treachery.
My little sister’s crib started out in my mother’s room in our three bedroom home. I found out we were moving into a bigger house, and I held back the militia of temper tantrums temporarily. The move would be good. I could re-establish my place in the family and restore the circle of life. My sister would be old enough to talk back by that point, thereby nullifying her cute baby powers of persuasion. All I had to do was be patient and bide my time. Everything would once again be right with the world.
Moving day came. When we got to the new place, I ran upstairs to my room, flung the door open, and saw the most disgusting and heart breaking sight — on the left side of my room was my full sized bed and tastefully eccentric comforter. A twin sized Disney Princess-laden eye sore was on the other side.
I was utterly horrified.
Dinner time was a desperate scramble for resources and attention. Our mother worked as a janitor and barely had time to think, let alone listen to our stories. I was more than proficient at threatening my brother. With my sister, it was more about bribery. When neither method worked, we fought. And we went in. For years, our neighbors probably thought my mother was running a rodeo next door to them.
But then something changed.
We formed an unexpected alliance.
Some boy at the park took my brother’s toy. My little brother was a runner, not a fighter. First, I tried to negotiate. The discussion broke down when he insulted me. My 5-year-old sister cursed him out. The boy then charged at us, and without thinking, my sister and I pounced. When the nearest adult broke us up, my sister was holding my brother’s retrieved toy in the air like a trophy. Our hair was a mess. My brother cheered us on from the sidelines. That was the turning point for me and my siblings.<
We were sworn enemies at home — but outside of our cramped little apartment, we were a united front against the world.
My little brother and sister rescued me from abusive men, pushed me to follow my writing dreams when no one else believed in me, and called me out when I wasn’t living up to my potential. My brother annoyingly reminds me that I can be a brat sometimes, while my sister celebrates my successes more fervently than I do, helping me counter my bouts of depression.
I didn’t even know National Siblings Day was a thing until recently, but there are no two humans more deserving of a celebration than my little brother and sister. My baby sister had a child before me, and the way she handled becoming a mother was fascinating. I learn from her all the time. We sometimes joke about how self-centered my brother can be — but honestly, he showed me the importance of planning ahead and focusing on myself before helping everyone else.
Even though child-me would trade my brother and sister in a heartbeat, adult-me appreciates every part of having siblings.