My brother turned 22 yesterday, but he’ll have to wait until I see him for Christmas before he gets his gift. I like to save on postage.
Twenty-two years ago, his birthday was also on a Sunday, and it was fun. My parents had me stay over at a nearby friend’s house who had a ton of video games, including Super Mario Bros. 3. I was elated. I was a singing angel in my church’s Christmas pageant that morning, and after my dad picked me up from video game heaven to see my newborn brother at the hospital, we stopped at McDonald’s on the way home (every 8-year-old boy’s dream), and I finally got the Happy Meal toy “Wonder Pig,” to complete my collection of Looney Tunes superheroes (along with SuperBugs, BatDuck and The Tasmanian Flash).
Yeah, my brother’s birth was awesome. My dad had to remind me that announcing his birth was a higher priority at grade school the next morning than announcing I had gotten “Wonder Pig.”
He was fun to babysit. We watched a lot of fun movies and ate popcorn together. But as my brother grew older, he got more annoying. I started my struggle with weight, and he fell in love with fruits and vegetables. I had my array of soccer “participation” pins, and he entered the era of “participation” trophies. Then he started using his scooter to run over the Brio tracks I’d made him. He just couldn’t stand that I would want to watch Bob Saget’s America’s Funniest Home Videos without him, and he was starting to beat me as Fox McCloud in Super Smash Bros. and with his warthog double-barreled pistol in our Nerf battles. He also preemptively adopted (more like kidnapped) all my stuffed animals and renamed them. That hurt.
Thankfully, as my little brother grew older, he began to know his place as I was still (I thought) smarter than him and could at least wrestle him into submission. He was a frantic and creative comic, like the squirrel in Ice Age. He was a good jester for our family.
Now he’s probably smarter and stronger than me. He’s about to graduate from college and have a job in another part of the country. I’m proud of him, and now he’ll be even better (which I didn’t think was possible) at leaving me alone. Despite eight years of age and other types of relational distance we’ve experienced, he gave me the complete “little brother” experience, both the positive and negative parts. And I will always make time, for the rest of my life, to annoy him. As payback.
So, happy birthday to my little brother.