The Checklist of My Life, Approved&Disapproved

March 9, 2011
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“Other things may change us, but we start and end with family” -Anthony Brandt

As we enter the monstrous, colorful, and boisterous American Girl Doll store in Chicago, a myriad of dolls, all shapes and sizes surround me, intimidating me on which doll will suite me best. Eric, my older brother, is sitting in the red cart, grasping his pokemon cards and game boy with a firm grip. My mom is pushing the cart, following every step I take. I have no idea which doll I want. This is a huge moment to me because I walk my dolls every morning with Eric in our butterfly stroller. The doll will become my prize possession. We keep going up escalators, searching every aisle of the store. I put a doll in our cart every aisle, because they are all just so beautiful, but by the end of the day it will all come down to one. We make it to the last floor, this one is full of outfits for your doll and you can match your doll, too! I think that is so awesome, who knew that you could have a twin look-a-like! By this point, I decide to join Eric and my dolls in the cart. We giggle at all the girls that look exactly like their dolls.

“Lauren you have about twelve dolls in the cart, you need to pick the one you want so we can get going. We need to meet your father for lunch,” my mother proclaims. As being told, I start to eliminate the dolls that don’t suite me. I am now left to my final two; the blonde hair one or the brown hair one was the question. Very secretly, I look over at Eric to see if I can read his face on which one I should get, nothing.
I reach into the cart to chose the blonde-hair one until Eric shrieks, “Lauren, are you kidding me! That one is so ugly. Get the brown-hair one, it looks like you. I like it!” I don’t even hesitate; I grab the brown hair one instead and proceed to the checkout line with my mom.

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”-Jane Howard

“I don’t want to!! I want to have my own party, I want to have all the eyes on me for one night,” I begin to raise my voice towards Eric and my parents. Eric and I are sitting across from my parents around the squared dinner table, discussing our B’nai Mitzvah. I am only eleven and Eric is thirteen, the age that all Jewish boys are suppose to have their Bar Mitzvahs. For my Bat Mitzvah, I always dream of having a flawless party. A room full of pink, balloons everywhere, smiles and laughter filling the room, dancing until our feet throb, and a night that will always be remembered by my friends. When my parents tell me that Eric and I are having our B’nai Mitzvah together, my face turns bright red, my dreams are crushed.
Eric responds with, “Lauren we can work it all out.”
I am speechless, crying out, “Eric we can not work this out. You want to have a sports theme and I want a princess and pink theme. These two themes clash, they don’t go well together. Mom, dad, this is not fair!” Don’t get me wrong, I think it would be so special having my B’nai Mitzvah with Eric because he is my older brother, and what is better than sharing this special moment together. I am just worrying about his older friends intimidating my friends.
Eric repeats himself, just using different words and with a frown, “Lauren, come on. We can both have a voice on what the final result is of our B’nai Mitzvah. You can have a say. We will discuss everything. It will be fun sharing this moment together.” As soon as he said this, a smile grew on my face and I was more than happy that he wanted to have this moment in our life together. I agree that we will have to collaborate all our ideas so we are both happy with the final results.

“Families are like fudge-mostly sweet with a few nuts.” -Author Unknown

I change from my high-wasted black skirt, with a striped sky blue and navy blue shirt tucked in, with a black belt, and cute boots with fringe, into a long, orange Under Armour basketball shorts and an orange cut- off jersey with the number thirty-two. Along with, my high, black NBA socks and my white, blue, and purple, Michael Jordan basketball shoes. I pull my hair up and put on my competitive face, game time. I look into the crowd to see Eric sitting with my family. My face lightens up with a big smile, as I show all my teeth, I wave. The game starts and whenever I make a good pass, score, or even have a turnover, I look at Eric. I look for his gray sweater and black slacks that he is wearing, in the crowd. I want to see if he is clapping, cheering, or if he has a sign of embarrassment on his face for me. There is two minutes left in our game, we are down by 2 points. This is the time for me to shine and make my family proud. I come down the court, dribble, dribble, dribble, foul! Its one and one, I have to shoot the free throws and my heart drops. I either make both to make the game tied or miss both and walk around with my head down. I hope I make these; I have been working really hard on my free throws and want to win so badly. I think to myself in my head, dribble, dribble, dribble, spin the ball, bounce three times, and shoot. My first free throw goes in and then I repeat the same steps.
I hear my dad screech from the sidelines, “Let’s go Lauren!” I make the second free throw and look into the crowd to make sure Eric wasn’t texting or anything. Turns out, all eyes were on me.
I’m so excited my team won, I run to Eric faster than the wind. He says with a smirk when I arrive at his feet, “You played okay, I could have done better.” Pathetically, that comment made my day. Just knowing my brother was there to support me makes me so happy.
My eyes widen and I say back, “Thanks.” I guess next game I just have to play harder to get a “great game” from him.

“Because I have a brother, I have a best friend.” –Unknown Author

The tall, steep, snow-covered mountains, with brown wooden chair lifts attached from the bottom to the top of the mountain, and screeches of families skiing and snowboarding in Wisconsin at the Grand Geneva resort, after Christmas, only means one thing, family fun! There is nothing better than a family outing with your three brothers at a beautiful resort. It’s a family tradition to come here every year after Christmas to go skiing as a family, but this year Ryan, my brother in 8th grade, wearing his basketball sweatpants and his baseball sweatshirt that says champions on it, and I have been talking about going snowboarding and trying something different. We have never been snowboarding, but wanted to try something new.
Before filling out the paperwork, Eric, with his LFA sweatpants on and his Iphone ready to text, tells us, “Are you sure you guys want to do this. Why don’t you just ski? That is stupid to snowboard. You can get hurt.” He thinks he’s our dad; we ignore him and finish filling out the papers. We begin to put on our rented scratched up snowboards and tight snowboarding shoes. Our lesson is at 1pm. Ryan and I have an hour to kill but we’re very anxious to go snowboarding.
As we sit outside the pro-shop Ryan proclaims, “Lauren lets go on the bunny hill to practice and get a feel for snowboarding.” I decide why not, that’s a great idea, but something inside is telling me this isn’t the best idea and Eric’s words keep replaying in my head, “You can get hurt.” I ignore my inner thoughts trying to talk me out of it. We start to make our way to the magic carpet in our many layers of coats and snow pants, when we realize we have no idea what we are doing. Ryan and I are all smiles and laughs.
“Ryan how are we even suppose to stop,” I ask with a tone of frightfulness.
He sounds very intelligent and says, “You fall on your butt.” Yeah sure Ryan, I’m sure that is how you are suppose to fall, but I listen to the kid regardless. First time down the hill I made it almost to the bottom until I fell on my butt. When going down my face scrunched up, not knowing what I was getting myself into. Ryan is clapping his hands as if I was a pro and did a cool trick. We go up again. I see Eric and Austin on the chair lift; Austin is waving while Eric constantly shakes his head back and forth with a look of disapproval. He raises his eyebrows and turns the other way. He is trying to tell us that we are idiots. Ryan and I wave back with intense hellos, showing our anxiety. This time I tell Ryan he can go down first and I will follow him. He makes it look so easy for his first time, and then my turn comes around. As I slide down the hill, I lose my balance, and fall. My left foot comes out of the snowboard and my right leg attached to the snowboard comes over my body. I am in excruciating pain, but try to hold in my tears. I can hear Ryan laughing from down the hill. He thinks I’m laughing because I was being so goofy before, but after thirty seconds of me not getting up he comes sprinting to me to see if I’m okay. His eyes begin to tear, worrying for me. We didn’t know what to do until a man came over to help me out of my snowboard. Thoughts keep running through my head, will I be okay? What should I do? I can’t call my dad; he is going to be mad at me. What if I can’t play basketball? My brothers are going to say I am a faker. I start to limp to ski patrol, with one arm around Ryan so I don’t put all my weight on my knee. As I enter the little hut, the man there begins to ask me questions and examines my knee. He makes me very nervous. When he tells me what the possibilities could be with my knee, tears start rolling one after the other down my face. He puts me in this huge knee brace made out of cardboard.
I call my dad and tell him that I hurt myself before my lesson and he has to come get me. His only words were, “Wow, Lauren. Are you stupid? You risked your basketball career. Why would you go out before your lesson?” This made me so sad, more tears roll down my face. I hang up the phone; I hate when he’s mad. My dad walks in furious. Ski Patrol puts me on a wheel chair and begin to roll me very slowly, making sure I don’t hit any big bumps, to the car. Everyone stops and stares with their big, glossy eyes, this is so embarrassing. Stop staring, there is nothing here to be seen, besides some stupid girl who doesn’t listen to her brother and doesn’t make good choices.

“Brothers and sisters are as close as hands and feet.”-Vietnamese Proverb

He has his strong arm around my bony shoulder as we make a sharp turn around the corner, we bump into Eric, whose face turns into a frown and his eyes rapidly look the other way. Not even a friendly “hello,” it really hurts me deeply when my own older brother, my role model, and my best friend doesn’t even acknowledge me. Can’t he be happy for me? He immediately pretends to text someone, good one Eric, the classic pretend to text someone to ignore seeing someone.
As I approach Eric in his navy blue Jeep Liberty, he says in an angry voice, “Lauren I don’t approve.”
I reply, “Eric why can’t you be happy for me? I never say anything about your girlfriends that I don’t approve of.”
“Then know I will not talk to you. You are making a bad decision,” he stated.
I shouted back, “Eric stop. Everyone loves him in our family, besides you. Ryan and Austin look up to Dylan. Just accept it. Mom and dad approve. I am your little sister, just be happy for me, for once, please.”
Deep down inside of me, I hear my heart begin to pound really hard and shrink. I really don’t want Eric to be mad at me and not talk to me. That is so hard for me because I love talking to him. At dinner, Eric is sitting with his head down, texting. Typical. Later that night, Eric begins to make stupid jokes about my boyfriend, Dylan. My face tightens up and my eyebrows begin to go down my long face. He’s making me so mad.
He says with laughter, “At least I’m not dating Dylan.”
I look at him and say, “Eric, I don’t care what people think and I don’t care what you think. Guess we aren’t going to talk for a while.” I look up at him with eyes filled with tears; he is texting, once again.

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