Twenty-Six years ago today I missed my kindergarten graduation. I bet you're wondering why I remember the date exactly, but you should be more curious about why I didn't get to wear a paper mortarboard and had to pick up my diploma – which my parents still have framed – the following Monday. The reason happens to be one of my favorite people: my little brother.
My grandmother told my Mom that childbirth was the most awful experience a woman could endure, and she thought that she was going to die all three times. This lead my mother to believe that she got off easily when I was born, despite it going so badly that the doctor asked my father if it came to it, did he want her to try to save his wife or the baby. Luckily for us, they worked things out, so we're both still here. But this made my mother determined that she wouldn't mislead me so badly. So my aunt Gerry and I were present at my brother's birth. That's why I missed my graduation. I got to hold Vynce when he was just minutes old.
I'd like to say I adored him from the moment he was born, but we had a rocky start. Oh, he was fine as a baby, but by the time he was two he was breaking my things, and while I might not have the classic redhead's explosive temper (well, usually. Ask Vynce about the baseball bat incident some time) he always has had a shorter fuse. This lead to me having a lot of bruises when he was small. I didn't hit him back. But I did tease him and make him cry. I was his babysitter after school and all summer from the time I was twelve, so resentment that I was stuck with him when I'd rather be with friends, and his indignation that I wasn't the boss of him, didn't help any.
When he was eleven, though, my parents had him treated for ADHD, and he became a different boy, one who was actually nice to be around. We became much closer then, and remain close to this day :) When he was small I would have traded him for a sister in a second, but now I don't know what I'd do without him.
There are a lot of benefits to having a little brother: I got a lot better at video games like Mortal Combat and Grand Theft Auto than I'd ever been with a sister – I still haven't improved on Guitar Hero to his disappointment, though; I probably have him to thank for a lot of my knowledge of action movies; he explained the whole polo shirt wardrobe guy thing that baffles me; brothers invent fun games like let's beat on each other with wrapping paper tubes, and it became a Christmas eve tradition – I think it's been about 3 years since we last did that, so maybe we've outgrown it; he's never tried to steal a boyfriend or borrow my clothes; little brothers provide an easier method of deciding how much younger a person you can date than the guys' half your age plus seven equation – girls can date any guy older than their brother but those even a day younger than him are not eligible for dirty thoughts, so it's just a date to check, no math; little brothers seldom drag you clothes or shoes shopping, it's great to have someone who really understands why Space Ghost and the Batman Beyond incarnation of Batman are the best superheroes ever…
I think those things make up for the hours and hours I spent at little league games so our parents didn't have to bring him. Or the time he decided to tell me who I should marry, claiming he should have that right because he "never got to have a brother." Or telling me, a mere two years after he got taller than me, that he was glad I didn't want to go into the mosh pit at the Offspring concert we went to because "you're so little you could have gotten hurt." Or that time he stole my diary when I was going into the 10th grade…well, maybe it doesn't make up for that last one. And not for the walking sleeping bag thing either, but what can you do?
He had to work today, so the family celebrated his birthday on Sunday. What do you buy a man of twenty-six? If you're me you buy him volume 4 of Batman the animated series and this cool jellyfish mood lamp from Thinkgeek. Hey, he bought me a jar of sunlight for my birthday in April, and an alien fetus lamp a few Christmases ago, so it's not like we do practical. I called him today and we argued about whether or not someone is in the last year of their mid-20s, or the first year of their late 20s at 26. What to do with 20 is where we differed.
Happy birthday, Kiddo. I hope we celebrate many more.
"When Daft Punk is playing at my house, my house/You've got to set them up kid" - LCD Soundsystem, Daft Punk Is Playing At My House