I See My Siblings And Myself In My Kids

by Christine Burke
Originally Published: 
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I grew up as the oldest of three. My two younger brothers and I were close in age, and though we shared the same DNA, we were, and still are, very different people. But, as does happen with family, we became close in spite of our differences. And because we moved so frequently for my dad’s job, often the three of us were a tight little gang until we made new friends. To this day, no one knows me like my brothers do.

When my kids came along, I often wondered how their sibling relationships would evolve. As I watched my son peer into his new sister’s bassinet, I secretly hoped they’d forge a bond much like my brothers and I did. I also hoped he’d fart on her less than my brothers farted on me — a lot less. Thanks for that, guys.

Now that they are 10 and 13, I can see my kids forming that close bond I’d hoped they’d kindle. I can also see the memories of days gone by when I hear them bicker in their shared bathroom or when they laugh at an inside joke that only they understand. They really are like me and my brothers in so many ways.

1. He who controls the remote controls the world.

OK, admittedly, my brothers and I didn’t start having this argument until 1986 when we actually got a remote control, but you get the point. When you have one TV in the house and three kids who want to be in control, Darwin steps back and let’s nature take its course. As I watch my two kids fight over controls of the DVR, I’m immediately transported back to our family room, circa 1988, as my brothers beat the shit out of each other over whether we watched The A-Team or ESPN.

2. My parents were outnumbered, and paybacks are a BITCH.

If my brothers and I wanted to convince my parents that we should be allowed to do something fun, we waged a full-on assault with whining, cajoling, and begging. We were a motley crew hell-bent on getting our parents to take us to Dairy Queen in our old Ford Granada. When I throw my hands up in surrender and pile the kids in the car for a trip to get froyo, I realize now my mother was giving in so that we’d shut the hell up.

3. No one could make me laugh like my brothers could. And now I don’t understand my kids’ jokes.

My brothers were ridiculously funny in a way that only I could understand. We had inside jokes and character voices that absolutely no one but us found funny. To this day, all it takes is one phrase to get us peeing our pants as my mother looks on in confused amusement. These days, as I watch my kids make each other fall over in hysterical peals of laughter, I realize that they sound just like my brothers and I did. I only hope they aren’t making fun of me. I know they totally are…

4. My mother’s family room was a mess for 15 years, and I’m looking forward to a clean family room in 2021.

When we were teenagers, we lived on our plaid tweed family room couches. The evidence of our slovenly ways spilled onto the coffee table, end tables, and the floor. Diet Coke cans, candy wrappers, and discarded Blockbuster VHS cases littered every corner of the family room. When I am picking up phone chargers, iPads, and organic popcorn wrappers and replacing throw pillows for the fourth time in a day, I thank my lucky stars that my mother didn’t evict our freeloading slob asses.

5. We fought like cats and dogs…

There were no two people on the planet who could piss me off more than my brothers. I can remember epic fights over belongings and standoffs over who would get the last of the Froot Loops. You haven’t lived until you’ve thrown your body weight against your bedroom door to prevent your brother from stealing one of your cassette tapes. When I see my son go apeshit after his sister steps over one of his boundaries, I admit that I’m secretly rooting for her when she slams the door so hard that the whole house shakes.

6. …but we were the best of friends.

No one knows me like my brothers do. They grudgingly made room for me and my ’80s jacked to Jesus hair on the couch, kept me from getting too big for my britches with their putdowns, and are the two people who know exactly how bad my braces and head gear were. But they hung out with me anyway and still light up when they see me enter a room. When I see my two kids snuggled on the couch playing Minecraft, I know that they love each other even if they are destroying each other’s virtual worlds.

Siblings really are the best friends you’ll ever have. Except when they tag you in a #ThrowbackThursday photo on Facebook from that time you were 13 and had glasses, braces, and acne. When that happens, I totally tell Mom and stomp up to my room and slam the door.

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