Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Brotherly love

These are my two boys, who are brothers, taking a little snooze:

I have two older brothers. They are such different people.

One is an extroverted salesman type who is very sure about his opinions. The other is an introverted geek, who has excellent analytical skills.

One was athletic as a child, playing baseball and tennis and basketball, but had trouble learning to read. The other was only mildly good at swimming, but was in the Math Club and the Chess Club and played clarinet in the school's marching band.

I believe that one of them would have been diagnosed as ADHD if he were a child now, while the other might have been seen as depressed.

While they are polite to one another at the few family gatherings that we have, they are essentially estranged.

It's sad because they are both good people.

They are 3 years apart in age. One of the things that i see now, that i didn't see then, was that my parents encouraged them to compete with one another, although their talents obviously lay in completely different areas. My oldest brother talks about this now and helps me to understand what it must have been like for them.

I just want to knock my middle brother on the head sometimes. It seems that he is holding on to his past resentments. He of course would argue with that statement, but that's what i see. Sibling relationships can be very complex, so i just watch from the outside and wish that it were different.


Maggie said...

This is very like my two older brothers, only they are not really estranged from each other now. They talked out those competition things and how different they are. But I myself feel more estranged from one of them and I haven't exactly figured out why. We don't harbor resentments, but we are so many worlds apart from each other. We stare at each other like we're looking at aliens and wonder what to talk about. Odd, uncomfortable silences are common between us.
I have a younger brother too. He's my little chicken hawk - cause I think he looks like that cartoon character. I miss that bugger.

Nancy Dancehall said...

My mom and uncle are the only two adult siblings alive who have no issues with each other.

None. It's strange. They even get along. I hope my boyos take after them, and not O's family.

TTQ said...

It took me until I was over 30 years old to let go of my resentments..and a near death experience and then a wedding..

I sooooooo wished I had done this earlier but I didn't and that's ok, because it's okay now.

It's funny only one family memeber is allowed to read my blog and that is my oldest sister.. I don't know why I am cool with her reading it and don't want anybody else to read it.

QT said...

My middle sister still acts like she is 13. IT is quite tiresome. I know how you feel.

Bob said...

I get along fine with my brother & sister (as long as we leave politics out of it!), I just don't talk to them very much. (I don't know how often they talk to each other). I don't know why I don't keep up with them directly. Mom is a conduit for us all, so I know in general how they are.

Maybe you can be that conduit for them?

Joan said...

Sibling rivalry can tear families apart. Even as adults we often cannot seem to rid ourselves of the resentments that have festered since we were children. I only hope someday your brothers will find a way to overcome their history.

meno said...

miss maggie, so you have no sisters? Me neither. Anyway, my middle brother and i don't really have anything in common either. It's odd, because we were close, in an adversarial sort of way, as kids.

nancy, From what you have said about O's family, i would have that same hope. I can see why you don't want them around the SIL.

ttq, i don't think that 30 is all that late. These two are over 50. You must trust your older sister. I wish i had a sister.

qt, it is tiresome. And 13 is a really shitty age at which to be stuck.

bob, you are a sweet man. Do you ever wonder what will happen with the realationships when your mom is no longer around? I don't see my middle brother very often either. It's just odd.

joan, i hope so too, but i am not hopeful. The really sad thing is that they are both really thoughtful people.

Schmoopie said...

At least "your boys" seem to love each other. I love kitty-kitties.

I have 2 brothers. One is 15 months older than me and the other (my half-brother) is 15 years younger. I really don't speak to either one. My older brother is "The Golden Child." He is, and always has been, such a good person. It's not his fault that he is revered in my family. My family always asked me, "Where did you come from?" "You are so outspoken, loud and fidgety." "Why can't you be more like your brother?" I simply couldn't ever be that good. I tried, but I couldn't. I've stopped trying to be someone I'm not, and I have never been so happy. I find that I am a lot better off if I keep my distance from my family. I do miss the fun times, but there is a lot of hurt there too.

My younger brother is a disturbed individual and a felon. I won't go into that right now as I have already written a book on your blog.

patches said...

Your sibling dynamic sounds similar to mine. The dynamic is delicate at best. I used to be something of a conduit between my two older sibs but I am no longer cute and impressionable so I have lost a lot influence... and I no longer possess the strength to intercede so I have left everyone to their own devices. I can't save them from themselves.

jen said...

it's got to be hard to see something that could be so easily rectified yet is a million miles apart.

it's not fair to them, not fair to you.

Lynn said...

It's so sad that your parent encouraged your brothers to compete with each other. I wonder if your parents did that to encourage each brother to strive to be the best that he could be. Your brothers are both adults and should be able to act like adults. Sorry for you, that they don't.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I don't understand parents who pit their kids against each other. My parents always made it clear that I could not compare to my older brother, who was allowed to do awful things to me with impunity.

Now our parents are gone, and there are so many residual bad feelings. We are both trying for the sake of our children, all of whom adore their cousins,but we'll never be close.

I know too much about him, and he can never be sure that I won't tell his family, so there is mutual distrust.

It's sad and I wish it had been otherwise.

liv said...

And it also occurs to me that these things--the personality issues, competition issues, etc... only seem to be sadder to watch when they get held onto for longer and longer, and we get older and older. How we drop into typecasts in our own family is weird.

Sienna said...

Sometimes it just is what is hey.

My little sister and I are close, at least we had each other through some challenging times, and I was able to watch out for her.

My brother is much older than us, he is a sweet, gentle, loving family man.
My older sister we don't see much of.
Two (other) older brothers died, very young.

I have extended family, step sisters, they are cool, lots of sweet cousins I lived with..we keep in touch.

My partner has a lots of brothers and sisters, big catholic family, adorable, funny and loving people, *huggers*!

Hope your brothers are doing okay, now, Meno.


Scott from Oregon said...

My poor older brother had ME to contend with. He was fourteen months older but we were equal and competitive from about the age of five onward.

I love that big boy to death but he can't stop the competition.

The last time he was around, we competed over hair follicles and extra pounds around the middle.

It was a one to one tie...

Jeremiah said...

Because my older son's talents are more cerebral and introversive, we tend to talk more about our youngest son, who is obviously an athlete and, because of it, commands attention for hours at a time just because he plays on a team. I struggle with trying to give my oldest equal ground, but sometimes, I think that maybe just listening to him, and remarking about how smart he is will make up for the exuberant conversation we have about our youngest's baseball stats.

I'm trying hard, and I hope none of this has to be worked out by my oldest on a shrink's couch someday.

d-man said...

Your boys are cuties.

Lucia said...

It is complex. Sometimes I think siblings grow up to find they have very little in common, except their ancestry. And childhood issues run deep in all of us, don't they?

Bob said...

I haven't even thought about what will happen when mom (or dad) pass on. They are in their mid-to-late 60's and are (as far as I am concerned) still young and will be around for a long time yet.

at least I really really really hope so.

meno said...

schmoopie, my "boys" alternate between tussling and then sleeping on one another. "Outspoken, loud and fidgety"- my kind of person! That must be quite a story about your younger brother.

patches, you may not be impressionable, but you are cute. Being the family conduit can really take it out of you. Best that you did quit.

jen, at this stage in their lives, i think things will just remain in stasis. Seems like a waste to me, but it's not my choice.

lynn, i think my parents did it in an attempt to shame them into behaving. In any case, i don't believe that there was any real thought behind it.

hearts, i don't understand it either. I was left out of the fray a bit as i was a girl, and therefore not really up to snuff anyway. Another intriguing bit of a story about a bad brother.

liv, god, ain't that the truth? We all have roles to play, and no one do we revert to them faster than with our families.

pam, my husband is from a family of non-huggers, so that my family was a bit of a surprise to him.

scott, 14 months difference is very little, you are essentially the same age. Good to see that you are competing over important things!

jeremiah, what, no science fairs? Your last sentence...what all us parents fear, that we are screwing our kids up so badly that it will take thousands of dollars of therapy to fix.

d-man, that they are!

lucia, you are right. I always say that i wish i had a sister, but that is not always a happy relationship.

bob, that sounds young to me too!

thailandchani said...

I don't have a relationship with my older brother. The truth is that our values are so different that there's no comparing us. We don't have any basis for a relationship.

I'm okay with it, I guess... because that's how it is.



Mother of Invention said...

Sibling rivalry is always there to a degree and even more so with same sex siblings. The closer in age, the more the comparisons are made. You are probably not part of this if you are the only female.
My older sister is 3 years older but only 2 grades and we had to try out for cheerleading against each other and were in the band too. Because of my non-competitive nature, I'd just give all the praise and spotlight to her and graciously accept any that came my way.
My oldest sister is 9 years older so is in a different ring anyway so we don't compete.

It's too bad your brothers can't find some more common ground to bond them more closely.

Toni said...

Amen sista! I think it is worse amongst boys than girls!

egan said...

Now imagine having five brothers and one sister. It really is complex. We were a highly competitive family and I think there are severe drawbacks as a result. I tried not to get too involved with the comparisons, but it was inevitable. It's really sad your brothers are essentially estranged.

meno said...

chani, i vacillate between knowing that sometimes relatives just cannot have a relationship, and thinking, but why not, it's just sad not to.

moi, i had this vision as a child, that when we grew up, we would all be friends. Silly me.

toni, i wonder about that. Girls can be very competetive too.

egan, you are the resident expert on brothers. When you talk about them now, it sounds loving. Is it?

luckyzmom said...

you said to hearts, "i don't understand it either. I was left out of the fray a bit as I was a girl, and therefore not really up to snuff anyway."

This was the song I heard over and over, he's older (18 mos.) and a boy. Then almost 8 yrs. ago I was in charge of something he thought he should be in charge of, so, he had a green worm and hasn't spoken to me since.

It consumed me for quite sometime but I was finally able to let it go.

egan said...

Yes, we get along pretty well considering how large the family is. We're more spread out now and are much different people than when we lived under the same roof, but we have great memories and plenty to discuss in our current lives.

Lee said...

My two boys are very different. I cherish this. They are both so wonderful in their own ways.

Maya's Granny said...

I had one of those competitive relationships with my younger sister. It is sad, because she has been dead for over ten years and I don't miss her. I'm rather relieved that I no longer have to deal with her, if you really want to know. It makes me feel petty to feel like this about her, but then I guess I must be petty.

Bobealia... said...

My father and his brother are essentially estranged as well. The funny thing is that although they are very different people, they are SOOO much alike, and they honestly have no idea what you are talking about when you tell them so. They have the exact same mannerisms and well, they LOOK like brothers too.
Family is very complicated and sometimes wonderful if you are lucky. I always think you seem to have a wonderful relationship with your Menospawn.

meno said...

luckyzmom, just goes to show that some people just don't grow up, at least not with their siblings.

egan, i feel all warm and fuzzy reading that. Not all families are toxic. Yay!

lee, most excellent. You are a good mom to recognize this.

maya's granny, petty maybe, but the fact that you feel relief is pretty telling about the relationship that you two had. I have this idealized idea of the sister relationship that i know is wrong, but it just seems to me that two people who come from the same place should be close. Of course that has not proven true in my family....

TaraDharma said...

oh, cute kitties.

I find that I get along with my sibs (I'm the middle child) much better when we see each other once in awhile. It's finite, and we know it, and are able to set aside (for the most part) our resentments and opt to just have a good time instead. You are right, sibling relatilonships are very complex!

Susanne said...

I don't think that siblings have to be close. Though it's nice when they are.

I have a younger sister and we like to keep a little distance. Not too much though since I wouldn't like our relationship to be only through our mother.

Sometimes I think if my family weren't family I'd never meet them again. But then I've known them for quite a while.