Brotherly Brawls, Constant Comparisons

June 15, 2011
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His shining, innocent eyes reflect the kid I once was. He is a curious, sports-loving, shy boy. Annoying his older sister is one of his favorite past-times, and he cannot go a day without begging me to play basketball with him. Author Marc Brown once said "Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero." Yet being a brother can be more difficult than saving the damsel in distress. As a big brother, I make sure to keep him out of trouble and that he has everything I did not. My strong influence on him gives him the life that I always wanted as a child.

The raging summer sun turned our house into a two-story furnace. It was Sunday, the third of June, nothing more than a typical church-day. “Marcus! Why do I have to keep telling you to wake up? We’ll be late for church!” Mom cried harassingly. I fumbled out of bed and almost slipped on my sheets. Lethargically, I made my way to the bathroom to take a shower. The steamy water gently poured upon my head as I drowsily got ready. “Marcus! It’s 10:00! Can you ever be early to anything?” I rushed out of the shower and got dressed before Mom could lecture me again. I hopped in the car avoiding the glare of my mother and pretended to talk to Josh. It was at church that I found out that my brother outdid me again. Apparently, today was Father’s Day, and I forgot. On the ride home, my brother tried to “hide” his mocking grin every time I looked at him. “Josh, stop smiling at me,” I told him irritably. Dad responded before Josh could: “Don’t talk to your brother that way, Marcus.” When we got home, Josh rushed inside, eager to share his gift: “Wow! This is really nice! Thanks Son!” my Dad said proud of his youngest. I looked on enviously, wishing that we still made Father’s Day presents in high school.

“Can we play on the small hoops now?” “No Josh, you know how it goes, you beat me, and then we play.” The game was simple: I am on offense all the time. He gets a point when I miss: I get a point when I make it. Our daily “practices” pay off when Josh plays with kids his age. He is a basketball phenom, and I say so with pride. As a kid, I never had the older brother figure to push and coach me to the best of my ability. Josh became interested with basketball when he found out that I loved it. Now, basketball is his life. Anytime he is not playing basketball, he is checking scores and game times on Dad’s phone, or playing basketball video games. My knowledge and passion for the game of basketball is his. Despite my pride, I always wonder how good I could have been if I had been pushed as much as Josh is. “Your brother is amazing!” my friends exclaim when they see him play. I laugh and smile glowing with delight, but deep down I wish that I was the basketball phenom being praised.

His adorable laugh, gleaming eyes, and sweet innocence all contribute to him being a girl favorite. “Awww! Your brother is the cutest thing!” every girl says anytime Josh is around me. To be honest, I give Josh piggyback rides just so girls notice that “sensitive and caring big brother.” More than once has a girl I want to talk to approached me because of my brother. What can I say? Josh always steals the show! I never mind it though, I am not the jealous kind of brother. However, sometimes the constant comparisons can hurt my feelings. About three years ago, my cousins from New York and the Philippines visited my family. We all went to Starbucks: everyone has those days when they are just craving a vanilla frappuchino. After we got our drinks, we found a large enough table and began to talk. I sipped at my frappuchino, not in the mood to socialize. Then the conversation turned somehow towards me. Suddenly, I heard Dad say, “Yeah, Josh is obviously a lot handsomer than Marcus.” I looked at his smirking face, disbelief rushing through my brain while my cousins laughed at me. That very night, I mentioned it to my friend, “Well he is a lot cuter than you!” Does not seem like much? I am overreacting, am I not? In a life where pleasing your father is one of the highest priorities, anything degrading your father says hurts, especially when you are being compared to a brother.

Most would call it jealously. To me it is bitter love. As praise rains down upon Josh, my proud smile masks the resenting glare. The continuous compliments are music to my reluctant ears. However, his innocent eyes and sweet voice always soften my heart. Do not take this the wrong way, my brother is the world to me and I would gladly trade places with him if something terrible were to happen; however, selfish dreams of being in the spotlight do surface occasionally.

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