Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Message to the Little Brothers of the World

Being a little brother is a thankless job. You get the brunt of your siblings' frustration, excitement, and heartache thrust upon you without much warning. From your earliest memory you were the scapegoat, easily blamed and all too often dismissed. As you've grown up you've come to appreciate your older siblings for who they are, rather than who you always believed them to be. You can laugh with them, cry with them, scream with them, and swear with them, but in the end you will always be the little brother, the one who doesn't get away with the use of certain words.

Little brothers are cursed with the uneven distribution of worry. They not only have parents, they have older brothers and sisters, sisters being the worst. Who really cares if your hair has been cut this year? This decade? Who really wants to know if you've had dinner at midnight? Why does it matter who your friends are? It matters. All you little brothers out there, it matters. It matters to your mothers, your fathers, your brothers, and most of all your sisters. Those big sisters will get you every time. Choose good friends. Your sisters want to like your friends as much, or as close to as much, as they like you.

When you're a teenager you might not understand why it is that you have to play nice with your siblings from time to time, but when you are a twenty-something, you will understand that it is your siblings who can prove to be your closest allies and most trusted friends. When you're done being a teenager, you'll understand this. Someday you'll have your heartbroken or you'll need a shoulder to cry on. Someday you'll need a buddy for a road trip or to loan you some cash for lunch. Someday you'll be driving down the road and a song will come on the radio and you'll need someone to call immediately. You'll understand when you get there. Once you're done being your all-important, teenage self, you will understand why you had to go on the trip that one time with your older brothers when you really just wanted to stay home and "hang out" with the neighbor girl you've been madly in love with since you were nine.

When you survive your teenage years and think that the unnecessary worrying on the part of your older sister is over, you will be seriously mistaken. Little brothers never stop being little brothers. No matter how tall they get, no matter how old they get, no matter how strong they get. They will always be somebody's little brother. Luckily, the job won't always be thankless.

There aren't prizes being handed out for 'best little brother in the world' these days, but there should be. Some of you little brothers are doing an exceptional job. You're saying the right things when your big sister is having a bad day. Making sure not to tell her that her feet are big or that she's being a girl. You're doing the right things when your older brothers ask you to watch their kids or go on fishing trips where it will rain the entire time you are there.

Some of you little brothers are becoming fine young men. You're growing into the men that your older sisters always knew you would be. The obnoxious streak is fading and you're becoming quite the conversationalists. Maybe even a year from now you'll be able to have an entire conversation without mentioning how big your calf muscles are getting or how all the girls like your hair long.

Maybe you'll always have these added quirks. This is the charm of little brothers.

All of you little brothers who put up with older siblings who don't know what they're doing with their lives and call to vent, your listening ear is appreciated. All you little brothers who feel guilty for calling older siblings to complain about how stupid your parents are, stop it. Us older siblings know where you are coming from. Mom did what? Yes, the reaction hasn't changed over the years. The stupidity of our parents is part of the bond we share as siblings.

And to all of you little brothers who won't walk out of the house, drive away in the car, or hang up the phone without telling your older siblings you love them, you deserve a prize. Without knowing it, you get us through our roughest days, our longest nights, and despite the title of 'little brother' you are giants in our eyes.

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