Family at its Best or Worst?

November 6, 2008
By Liz Navarro, Ingleside, TX

If we all have families then we should never feel lonely right? Well perhaps in my case having about 14 siblings makes it hard to explain. The battles upheld are well…quite unique. Most people stare at me in awe pondering, “You do?” My general response is, “It’s a long story.”

My mother and father had my older brother Greg first, he is now an adult and up at college. For quite sometime it was always just Greg and I, in school he was always just a grade ahead of me. Then whenever I was about three years old, my little brother Ryan was born. Even though I had a younger sibling at this point whenever it came to moving or anything we each had our own special places, Greg was the oldest, I was the only girl, and Ryan was the baby of the family but it wouldn’t always be that way.

In eighth grade my parents divorced and both got remarried, however while one would think now I have a stepfather and a stepmother I know I will never have a stepfather. For instance my mother married her partner (a.k.a. Sandy) but one would never guess this on account of how stereotypical society tends to be. Sandy has two kids of her own: Lacy and Carter. So now at this point I was up to four siblings, until I found out that Mary (my step-mom) had four children of her own making it a total of eight siblings. Now the other six, my dad and Mary take care of medically needy kids and since they are foster kids there are up to six that they can have, thus adding up to a total of 14 siblings. However, there will never be six “foster kids” again as my dad and Mary have adopted my four year old sister named Angel.

The most interesting factor in having so many siblings is due to the amount of time spent with each one. Currently I know I will never meet two of my step siblings due to the fact that they are in their thirties and my step-mom hasn’t seen them since they were two and three. Living with my mother means I only get to see all of the kids up at my dads about once a month and for a greater portion of the summer. My older brother is currently attending TAMU in College Station so I rarely see him.

How does one bond exactly with so many siblings? Honestly I have no clue how you couldn’t each one has some very unique personality traits and thus making them all lovable and unforgettable all in their own way. So to answer this question we should start off with oldest to youngest. My step-sister is Jecca, she is twenty-two, Jecca has a daughter named May and she is two. Jecca is the only older sister that I have so the relationship I have with her is critical to being able to discuss “girl issues.” Sometimes however Greg and she will be in what my step-mom likes to refer to as, “The Adult Club.” Once again reminding me of how young I am. Out of all of my siblings to I will be the only one who will graduate and not be eighteen yet.

My step-brother Jake is twenty and cannot wait until he is the legal drinking age. Jake is definitely rebellious and always is either sleeping, eating, or trying to avoid work. I tend to argue with him a lot over using the computer and thus I cannot quite describe us as being “close,” merely just acquaintances. Greg and he enjoy going to the movies and such and doing guy things. When all three of us go up to my dad’s (Greg, Ryan, and I) the boys usually have to share a room together and I will either share a room with Angel or if Jecca and May are down I will share a room with them.

My older brother Greg has always been the sibling who has been there. I of course have known him since before I was born. Anyways I have gone everywhere with him, each and every time that we have moved because our dad is in the navy its always been Greg and I from Rhode Island, to Virginia, to Florida, to California, to Texas. My first time ever being away from both my parents at the same time was on a trip up to Rhode Island to visit my grandparents, and we went to New York as well. Eerily it was the month before September 11, 2001, and we went on a cruise and saw the Twin Tours and everything, we went to a Broadway show and saw the Lion King, but most importantly even though we were hundreds of miles away from our parents I was comforted at the fact that my older brother was there. Greg was also in band and played baritone, and I play the flute, unfortunately he doesn’t enjoy band as much as I do so although we always were in the same place it was also the place I felt most disconnected to him.

My little brother Ryan I have always seemed to be able to avoid. Long have I been criticized on how mean I am to him, from when I was very little and used to whack him with my bunny, so his pay back-cutting my hair, to nowadays I ignore him or give him an evil look if he is being annoying or as I see it “stupid.” Ryan and I have never gone to the same school never associated with the same people and have never seen how the other acts at school…that is until this year. Because this year Ryan is a Freshman and I am a Senior. I am no longer “Greg’s Little Sister,” and Ryan now is, “My Little Brother.” He has never gone to school with either of us and although there is about two and a half years between us there has always been a big gap in school. I have always been critical of my little brother but I am also extremely protective and understanding…at times. It is perhaps this lack of shared experiences that makes life so hard to explain to him and why there is so much more tension between us. One thing we do have in common that Greg and I don’t is the fact that we can work as a team without there have to be a hierarchy.

Both of my brothers have broken their arms but the difference between how they both happened is extremely different. I remember my mother waking me up from my nap and saying that we had to go to the hospital. I was about four and Greg was about six, he had been playing in the park when a big kid pushed him off the swing and so he fell and broke his arm. During Halloween that year we had gone to church and he was wearing a Batman costume only with a broken arm, I got into quite a bit of trouble for proceeding to make fun of him. When my little brother broke his arm during April of this year it was definitely not a laughable situation. We went outside and he had only just had learned how to ride a bike and had had a hard time doing so due to his dyslexia and Lord behold he fell off it trying to avoid a car and fractured straight through both bones. He ended up having to have surgery and had a cast on for at least three months and even now about six months later he is still have difficulty moving it and such. All I can say is, is that no older sibling wants to see another get hurt.

While most people would think there are only two kinds of siblings: step ones and biological ones, I have proof otherwise, which is exactly what Lacy and Carter are. I have known Lacy since she was three years old, she has always looked up to me whether it be from the clothes I wear, the makeup, what I watch on television, or even playing an instrument, its her holding me up to the standards of a role model that I am glad for. Carter on the other hand is a completely different story, although I have known the child since before he was born I have struggled to associate my relationship with him or my place in his life. The child has given everyone quite a few scares from him toppling down a flight of concrete stairs, to a second story balcony guard rail giving way and him falling, the child is an amazement to us all and extremely lucky. I have long felt like the oddball out when it comes to him, mainly because: he looks up to Robbie because he is the oldest and plays football, Lacy is his “biological sister,” and Nathan shared a room for a while with him and also plays with him on a more kid friendly level. However, I have come to realize that Carter and I do have a special bond, not in the sense of anyone else either, when he wants someone to rub his head (something he has always loved), he goes to me, when he wants to play soccer I am the one who can go out and the kick the ball the hardest, but most of all when he wakes up at night and everyone else is asleep but I hear him having a nightmare I wake him up and tell him its okay.

Last but not least my littlest sister Angel, whom is perhaps one of the most special bonds in my life. She is not a regular kid, and I don’t mean due to individuality or because everyone is different, for she does have both but Angel has also taught me something else-patience. She has a colostomy and I have learned how to take care of her on a very extreme level. Over the summer I would change her bag, empty it, make sure that she only ate certain foods, and as with any other regular four year old, made sure that she wasn’t going to get into any sort of danger to herself. She can be very upfront and is extremely vocal and now whenever I find myself asking, “What is that?” I always think of her voice with the curiosity at hand. She has a hard time eating some foods and otherwise sometimes a hard time acknowledging her limits but in reality the only limits on her are those she puts on herself. True there is only a certain number of things her body can accomplish but there are so many more things that she can succeed at. My little sister is definitely a light that shows everyone how fragile life can be at times.

Through all of the worries, stress and strain having this many siblings is both a blessing and can be an absolute terror at times, but the rewards are so much more than anyone else can know. There are all kinds of different siblings but one thing remains the same, they will always be there no matter what and its not just blood relation, adoption, or even by marriage, it is the sharing of life and concern for one another that really bonds anyone to those they grow up with during the most frustrating years of life.

The author's comments:
I would just like to thank my family and all of them, even though they can be crazy. I love all of them very much and have changed all of the names to keep their privacy.

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