D and me are having such a good week. We're both off work, and we're both catching up on some much needed and deserved rest, and we're both working on renovating. Well, D is more than I am... she loves doing it, and I think it's kinda cool that I have a woman who is willing to try anything DIY related. She's talented :-)
On Christmas day, when we were over at my brother's house, his just-7-year-old and oldest of 4 kids ran off upstairs after losing it on her brother. My brother and wife are at the end of their rope with her, and it totally makes me sad to see. I can't imagine having 4 kids seven and under, and they're doing the best job they can, but along came a boy as number 3, and he is a tough kid to try to keep in check.
He is a sweet little thing, but as you can imagine, it's tough to be heard when you're living in a family of 6. He's got this endearing and absolutely relentless gruff little voice, which is all you can hear over dinner. The oldest, T, has always been a really good kid, but this year has started to act out. But so would I, if I was her... actually, I was her...
Though I don't know what it is like to be the oldest, I do know what it's like to have a brother who "ruins your life". My middle brother was horrible to me, and I endured years of pretty brutal "bugging" (reads full-on BULLYING, in retrospect). I've been locked in tuba cases (hence an intense fear of elevators). I've been pinned down and farted on with spread cheeks (lovely). I've been pinched and punched and scraped and treated like shit. He's an amazing man now, but he was quite a brutal older brother. If I complained about him, my parents would say one thing: "Just ignore him". That's all I was ever told...
And that's what T is being told to do. "Just ignore him." Your brother who, after you spend three hours setting up your Playmobile school, comes in and knocks it down with one speedy lap from Lightning McQueen. Your brother, who interrupts every one of your stories with his screams for attention. Your brother, who you have to come home from school right away to babysit because your mom is hard-up for help, is a tough kid to have in your life. At seven, you should be able to play, play, play. At seven, you shouldn't need to get grounded for not coming home after school because you wanted some time to yourself before starting your chores with the three younger kids...
It's really sad. My brother and his wife are doing the best they can, but this poor little chicky is stuck in this fucked-up world somewhere between playing with dolls or singing to Justin Beiber posters and having to look after a 7-month-old while her mom dashes out to get groceries.
On Christmas day, when I followed her up to her room, we had a chat about brothers. They can suck. I know - I had two. She just kept saying how frustrated she gets with him, and how her dad just tells her to "just ignore him"... and I had my little flashback. We had a heart to heart, and then I realized: this kid needs some serious alone time, with a hell of a lot of unconditional love.
So D and I took her on a date yesterday. We picked her up, took her out for pizza, went to see Megamind, then out for dessert and back home. She had an absolute blast, and it was amazing to see how excited she got (while totally trying to play it cool). D and I made a deal that, no matter how benign the conversation, we would not repeat anything she said to any member of her family, so that she can always trust us not to say anything. Obviously that goes within reason - if something drastic is said, we take it as it comes.
We had such an amazing time, and it made me realize that, although we are really active aunties, we spend time with the family as a unit - or at least the older girls together, but very rarely do we just hang out with one of them. It's so important. This kid, who thrives in everything she does, is so unhappy at home right now, and just needs some time to chill out and talk without having to talk over anyone.
I can't even imagine that household when all four kids are teenagers
I'm a really lucky aunt.