March 14, 2010
The Sibling Wish
I have four siblings; Three brothers and one sister. I'm the second oldest and my sister is the youngest. Each of us is approximately two years apart so there is quite an age difference between the first and the last.
When we were in elementary school, my older brother and I mostly played together. And at that period in our lives our best friends were also a pair of brothers the same ages as us. We were like the four musketeers, or more like Tom Sawyer-Huck Fin times two. We had some great adventures together.
When our next younger brother came along, not much changed with our set of friends, our play partners, or our routine of playing in the neighborhood. Our younger brother mostly stayed home with mom while we ran around the neighborhood getting into mischief.
But it was always the four of us friends. In a way they were like another set of brothers. But of course everything changes and we get older, move on to Junior high school, high school and life school. And so while we were in elementary school, with our other pair of brothers, we wished to have adventures together. We wished to learn about life together. We built tree-houses on islands, floated on rafts on the Mississippi, rode our bikes, hopped trains, swam in our friends pool, played kick the can, held parades in our neighborhood honoring the death of our pet turtle, walked on our hands down the street, built jumps for our bikes, and in the winter went sliding and ice-skating together. There were countless other amazing and wonderful adventures we had.
At that time in our lives, our Sibling Wish was simple. We wished to keep having fun with our brothers in adventure. The new additions to the family came along too much later to participate in our little band of hoodlums. Another wish we had was that we could have our own bedrooms. We lived in a tiny house with only three bedrooms. Four of us boys shared the large upstairs bedroom (which now I realize was really tiny) and our sister got the other bedroom downstairs by my mom and dad's room. She was the only girl, and a baby, so it made sense. Our Sibling Wish then was that we could have what she had. There might have been some jealousy involved in that wish. But she was just a baby, so it was ok. And by then things were already changing in our family. Not long after that, our older brothers moved on to Junior high school. That brought a new set of friends for them and a division of elementary school brothers and older brothers. Our Sibling Wish became more like, "I wish we could get back to doing our stuff." But their wish was probably becoming, "I wish those younger brothers would stop following us." And me and my friend wished that we could be doing what our older brothers were doing.
Then our family moved and I joined my brother in junior high school and I felt like I was growing up. I developed a whole new set of friends too, and I was immersed in much more real and diverse learning. I was amazed at the offerings. We had shop, science, math, and language classes. The expansion of our adventures went from the neighborhood to the world. The expansion of our friendships went from the neighborhood to the many neighborhoods.
With four boys there seemed to be a lot of sibling rivalry and jealousy. We were not always nice to each other. But there is something about being a brother or sister that is a bond that can't break. Or can it? On one hand we don't choose our siblings. When we are younger, we are stuck with them and had to live with it. Our parents decided that for us. But as we got older we competed for space, for growth, for friends, and for escape. Sometimes our Sibling Wish, was "I wish you were gone."
I believe a lot of this rivalry should have been checked earlier. It's a difficult thing for parents to sort out sibling relationships. We as parents tell our kids that they have to like their siblings. We've told them wisdom that when you get older, you will wish you were good friends with your sibling.
As we got older, we all felt the separation of our family. One by one, us siblings grew up and moved away. Our Sibling Wish became, "I wish I could do what you are doing."
And years pass, and we have our own kids, jobs, life challenges and our Sibling Wish becomes, "I wish we would see each other more often."
The Sibling Wish changes with age. And even though families can be dysfunctional at times, I recognize that there is an ageless connection in family. We did not choose who our siblings are. We were stuck with each other as blood relatives. When we are older we choose to stay connected and love our siblings as friends that will be there for us no matter what we do in life. In the future the Sibling Wish might end up being, "I wish you were still here."