Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Just don't call him baby
When we were children, my older sister Denise, younger brother David and I were like any other set of siblings. We fussed and fought and hung out watching television and snacking until our mother got home from her job at the courthouse. David went through a phase where he always wanted to watch Popeye. Of course, it's not like there five hundred channels to choose from back in the 1970s so Denise and I suffered through Popeye to watch The Flintstones, Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch.
I am ashamed of how we treated David sometimes. He was just a little boy, but to us he was the enemy. He was the Godzilla stomping through Barbieland, the pencil wielding homicidal maniac who stabbed the rag bodies of baby dolls, the kid who scribbled over my neatly colored pages in coloring books, the hair puller when I hurled the epithet Baby David his direction. Yeah, I deserved that bald spot.
But when he sunk down in his red bean bag chair in front of the TV and uttered the words "will someone make me a PBJ," either Denise or I would make him one without even spitting on it. We loved him and his sweet dimpled cheeks. My first memory of him is when my mother rocked him as a baby swaddled in a blanket. I clung to the back of the chair my toes curled around the rocker's runners and we sang. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
Despite the horror of living with two older sisters and having survived the torture we bestowed upon him, Dave grew up to be a man I'm proud to call my brother. He's a great father, I hope he's a wonderful husband, he has an important job serving his community and he's a great son. He's a much better son than I am a daughter. He's also a talented graphic artist and now he's writing, too, about his love of the outdoors.
Aside from the crazy pride I feel for him, I also enjoy reading Dave's blog because it gives me insight into this man I grew up with, I get to see the past through his eyes. His perspective and experiences are unique.
As the only son and the youngest, Dave had a different relationship with our parents, especially with our father. They spent a lot of time together and while I don't want to give you the impression that it was all back-slapping manly jocularity, the two of them definitely shared interests, information and a language that none of us womenfolk (what?) understood.
When I see my own son Nate and my husband together, I have a better idea of what my brother's relationship is like with our father. Nate reminds me of David - impatient, energetic, occasionally hot-tempered, keenly observant, a deep thinker. At his core sensitive and kind with high expectations for justice. Sometimes when I'm not paying attention, I call Nathan by my brother's name.
Today our father turns seventy-five and Dave wrote a touching and funny post about Dad's influence on him. I wanted to share it with you because you all seem like part of the family, too.
I know, I'm sorry. You didn't ask to be part of this dysfunction, did you?
Also there's a post at that other blog.