When you’re three years old, no one really takes the time to tell you what having a younger sibling entails. I, like many before me, thought it would be great – I’d have a built in friend. Someone to play with or talk to. Someone who’d finally understand why Minnie and Mickey were not talking and why Tiger gets to sit above everyone else on the pirate ship. What I didn’t expect was to no longer be able to use my favorite bubble bath, or to have to explain to him why you can’t just get out of the cheap, inflatable pool and take a shit on the front porch. I didn’t think about how two parents and two kids doesn’t add up to the same amount of me-time for my parents. I wouldn’t be the focus of their attention – and I’m not better than admitting that sometimes it still feels like the focus never balanced.
So, I was three and what was supposed to be my new best friend, my new favorite toy, was just this obnoxious, screaming bundle of tears. He wasn’t fun. Though, I’ve always wondered if there was some way he knew all I cared about the day he was born was getting a bagel from my grandma. But that’s ridiculous. I was being ridiculous. Who gets jealous of their baby brother? I didn’t know. Dil wasn’t on Rugrats at this point, and none of my friends had a little brother. There wasn’t anywhere to turn to.
I was jealous that he was alive, that I was no longer special. What a drama queen, right? I’m not sure that’s the case, though. There are studies, aren’t there? Of birth order and the effects of siblings on each other? I’m not the first child to be thrown off by his younger sibling, nor will I be the last. The jealousy never quite goes away, either, does it? I know that to this day, I’ve had an inferiority complex regarding my little brother – and I could’ve sworn someone once told me the younger sibling’s supposed to have that, but ever since he couldn’t breath properly when he was born, I’ve been in his shadow.
These aren’t pretty thoughts. They’re petty and disgusting, but this might be the closest I’ve come to repentance, a makeshift hail Mary for a makeshift Jew. This is an act of moving forward for me, because I may have pushed my brother, but I may not have. It may be a figment of my fucked up psyche, tormenting me for feeling inferior and jealous of him for years. This is me moving forward because I’m realizing that it’s okay. I’m allowed to not be perfect. We’re all entitled to our own fuck ups, our own disasters, because how else will we learn?
I appreciate my brother more than anyone on this planet. I love him fiercely, and will protect him at all costs. I translated his semi-speak for his teachers in elementary school, and I translated his shrugs and sighs now. It’s not me repenting, it’s not me trying to make up for some wrong, because he’s had these thoughts too. It’s me being a brother to my brother, and figuring out where this roll of the dice leaves me, what this additional role, so engrained into my soul, means for me. Because I know what it means for him: it means I’ll pull him out of the quicksand.