I’m 2 years old. A camera is recording me with my dad behind it as I attempt to walk, but more so stumble from my mom to my 7 year old sister Maddie across the room. My brother Christian, who is 8, agrees to taking my sisters place to be my fall point to walk to, but after one catch, sends me back to my mom and lets Maddie claim back her spot, feeling uncomfortable with this new child stealing his spotlight, as any 8 year old boy would.
I’m 6 years old. Breathless, I try to expand my lungs to the sweet air that will relieve the pain in my gut. I had been bothering my brother about who know’s what, and he concluded the only way to quiet me would be the classic punch to the gut to knock my wind out. He should have known that quiet wouldn’t last long. As soon as I regained my breath, I wailed for my mother who was in her room. I ran upstairs beginning to cry, more out of spite for my brother than out of pain. We both knew the drill of what would take place like any pair of siblings: If he punched me, I may be a little shaken then, but he would soon be the one with trouble from our parents.
I am 8 years old. My brother and I’s arguments began to turn into a verbal teasing war instead of him physically defeating me in what we liked to call a “fight”. I would be the first to yell when he did something I didn’t like, but no matter how much I yelled, there was never a way to beat his comebacks. Any names I called him were followed by the dreaded question “I know you are but what am I?”. With an 8 year old’s temper the only thing I could do was keep yelling louder and louder, until sometimes he decided to just mimic my voice as I outburst, infuriated by the fact that he wouldn’t listen. Another typical defense mechanism from anyone’s brother that would send steam out of their little siblings ears.
I am 10 years old. My brother, now 16, has migrated into the dungeon of video games and all nighters that he calls his room. With his new licence, he had become the rebellious teen who stayed out past curfew, likely just to prove a point. From my room at night I could sometimes hear him come home, and my parents, as they should, wasted no time to get on him about where he has been and why he disrespected the rules. This made me more angry than any of our other basic arguments from the past, because now our parents were always involved, and being the wise 10 year old I was, I did not want them to have to stress about the work in progress that is my brother. But unless either of us were ever truly infuriated with the other, our anger was usually held in as just ignoring each other, or a couple hours of the silent treatment. Christian The Teen was far to mature and great for those petty little arguments.
I am 12 years old. It’s time to send my work in progress, but still great friend of a brother off to college at UNH. I spent a lot of time reminiscing upon the good memories that we had when we were younger. I decided to write him a letter explaining my main stresses for him, as well as sort of expectations I had for him from then on for his success in college and in life. I had hoped it would get through to him better than words I just spilled out, and in some ways it did. We had some good talks about his experience in middle school, and he shared advice on making friends and staying on track. He had a sense of humor I learned to truly appreciate, and when his mood was right he could be the best company. I was genuinely sad to see him go. With him around there was always action at the house, but my goodness I knew it was his time. I mean, he was going to be only 25 minutes away, plus my easy going sister was still home! I wished him the best.
I am 14 years old. Those little things my brother has always done, being messy, being a bit arrogant and a tad selfish, and being a real pain in the butt, those things are still here. I still am flabbergasted when it seems he doesn't understand how to put things away, doesn't understand how to clean things up or even how to make his own bagel. But things have changed. From the outside you may not notice, but I know we have grown closer at heart for a million reasons. Simple gestures from him to me, me to him, they mean so much to siblings who often used to not get along. But when I was 8, something, I don’t remember exactly what, but something my brother did that was likely just a regular teasing game like always made me so angry that I stormed upstairs and locked myself in the bathroom. I must have just had a bad day, because I was crying and screaming so loudly upstairs that it caught my brothers attention. A few minutes later he came upstairs and knocked on the bathroom door and said “hey Mia, you ok in there? I have something for you”. I heard in his voice he was being sincere. I reluctantly opened the door when my brother did something I don't think I’ll ever forget. He took one of his hands out from behind his back and was holding a little cupcake that he had decorated. He smiled and walked away before giving me time to process. I took the cupcake and gasped at what had just taken place, then saw that in red icing on top of the cupcake it read “I love you!”. I never told him how special that was to me, but instead held it with me as a secret little token showing how much he has always cared.
This was not the only time I learned to love my brother. Over the past couple of years I have been touched by finding different ways Christian has shown he cares. When I was 7, as my family and I were talking about strange dreams we have, my brother admitted to having reoccurring nightmares of me getting into fatal situations. It wasn’t until a few months later when I asked my mom about what he had said, when she responded, “it’s because he really cares about you and worries about you more than you will ever know. He is concerned about you, even if you don’t think it shows.” I was told from her and from my dad about different times when he had asked about me, depended on me, and had hope for me. He is sometimes willing to even be called a hypocrite if it means I can avoid some of his mistakes he wishes he maybe didn’t make. On a really good day, he would give in during our arguments and find a way to just make me laugh regardless of how annoyed I may have been. He’s one of the only people who can do this.
And one day, when i’m older, and when my brother Christian is more mature, I will find a way to make him laugh the same way. I will find a way to show him that even if he tries to hide it, I know he cares for me with all his heart. He will learn to understand that 95% of the reasons I argue with him are in hopes to help him in the future. He will understand that I have never seen him as anything less than a success of a person, and that he is someone who I would still in many ways see as a role model, especially as I watch him growing out of those teenage habits. He will become the amazingly kind, humorous, and genuine human he sometimes hides. Each year, he will steal back his spotlight, will grow to be the person I knew he would be in my letter. And even after all the stellar, successful, infuriating comebacks he threw at me all these years, this will be his greatest comeback of all.