I’m an only child, but I never felt particularly lonely. I always had friends, my parents, toys, and my imagination. The sibling relationship always mystified me. Mostly I was appalled with how mean siblings were to each other: the fighting, name calling, insults. I found it quite disturbing, unnerving.
I remember one particular friend and her brother. She was the big sister and he was the younger brother. His hair was fire engine red and he was prone to tantrums, the likes of which I had never seen before. They had bookshelves in their home that I loved to peruse, unfortunately, most of the books had titles like Dealing with a Troubled Child and Loving the Unlovable Son (I made those up, but you get the picture).
I went to their house one day after school and as was customary back in my day, the parents were still at work, no one was home, and we let ourselves in -“latchkey” kids they called us. Nothing seemed to be amiss, we made ourselves snacks, talked about nothing in particular, and settled down to do our homework.
For some unknown reason, the brother stood from his place at the table, grabbed a knife, and proceeded to threaten to stab us both. I ran for my life, my friend close behind. We ran into her room and shut the bedroom door, she locked it, and we could see the blade of the knife whipping back and forth under the gap in the door.
After some time, her mother arrived home. We saw her car pull into the driveway and felt that the coast would be clear. When we left her room, we could see that her psycho brother was sitting at his place at the table, angelic, doing his homework as if nothing had happened. The only telltale sign of his murderous rampage was the huge knife sitting next to his math textbook.
I don’t know whatever happened to the brother, maybe he’s a serial killer or a stockbroker by now.
I always watch my children’s interactions with each other with great interest. Will they be friends or will one of them chase the other with a knife someday? Or chase their friends? Or become a psychopath?
I hope not.
While on Spring Break and on vacation, my kids were watching cartoons on PBS. When they ended, a yoga show came on and my oldest grabbed the remote and changed the channel. The youngest, in total despair, yelled, “don’t change the channel, I LOOOOVE Yoga!” She’s 5. I didn’t think that she even knew what yoga was. The oldest quickly put Yoga back on for his sister and the three of us, sister, brother, and me, watched some woman do yoga. No knives were involved. No name calling. No insults. Maybe they’ll be OK after all.
Photo credit: Michael Lorenzo