They say that when we are born, as babies, we conduct ourselves similar to animals when we only think and care about ourselves. Personally, I don’t remember being a baby and making things all about myself, but I can go with the notion for now. They also say that if a younger sibling is introduced into a baby’s environment, then that baby may grow jealous or envious of the time their mother now spends with the new baby. My brother was born when I was less than 2 years old, and while I swear I remember my grandfather taking me to the hospital to see my mother and new baby brother, I can’t say that the memory is real or if I’ve just heard the story so many times that it’s what I think is my memory.
Having siblings is certainly different than being an only child. As far as my oldest memory of my brother and I is concerned, or rather my oldest emotion regarding my brother, I do remember realizing how he just required more attention from my mother. He had difficulties paying attention as a child so my mother had to spend extra time teaching him to read and write, skills that had seemed to come to me more naturally. I remember going off on my own to entertain myself because I knew that while my brother needed my mother’s help, I also knew that she didn’t need to worry about me since she really needed to worry about him.
This notion carried me through to adulthood. After my brother learned to read and write, he then developed serious behavioral problems that required my mother to visit his school…sometimes on a daily basis to meet with his teachers and beg the admin not to expel him. Again, I was a bit older so certainly capable of finding my own way around without my having to ask my mother for help. Which, for her, was such a good thing and probably why she always knew that I’d always be able to take care of myself.
I never felt animosity against my brother for having taken my mother’s attention away from me just like I never felt as though it was a competition. I do remember one time while we were in high school, my brother accusing me of actually doing well in school on purpose to make him look bad to my parents. That could not have been further from the truth, but after that I may have settled for lower grades for myself just so that there was no longer such a stark difference between our report cards. I was never that type of overachiever anyway.
But let’s look at where my brother’s emotions went at that moment…maybe a red flag should have gone up at a young age of 12 or 13 when he seemed to assume that another person was so conniving and manipulative to make him look bad…due to no fault my own since there’s no way to surmise what my motives were behind gaining good grades in school or that they were so dark and sinister. Maybe someone should have sat him down and explained that his sister wouldn’t have had such bad intentions for him and would never have even come up with such a dark plan…it just wasn’t how I was made up.
As adults, we look at life as being the result of the lessons we learned throughout our childhoods/early adulthoods. I always say how I’d only go back 20 years if it was with the knowledge I have now. I meet people a lot who I walk away from thinking they never learned a specific lesson as a child/teenager that may have taught them not to assume sinister motives from others. They should have learned how to share their toys and how to be grateful to those around them…even if it means that those around them didn’t have the best intentions for them. I learned once that the best way to get past a bad experience in life, is to close your eyes, and imagine reliving it…except this time, you end up learning something positive from the traumatic experience instead of it being that you are scarred from it.
While growing up, I collected these experiences I shared with my brother to remind me how much better off I was to never be so paranoid about the world. I’ve always been generous with my family and friends because that’s just how I am…it wasn’t even necessarily about doing anyone a favor…it was more about letting people know that if they ever needed someone/something that I’d always be there to help them. But it goes both ways…when I need the favor returned, the flow is meant to come back. Or is that the lesson I never learned while so many other people never learned how to give or share, just how to take?
I remember an article I read called “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” For those who didn’t just follow that link to read the list of what we all should have learned during Kindergarten, I’d like to share a quote from it:
“Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.
Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.
And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.
Now, go back and read that list of things we learned while in Kindergarten and ask yourself how many of those things did you forget? How many of you forget to return something that isn’t yours that you’ve borrowed from someone else? How many of you walk out into traffic and forget to hold hands? These are the life lessons that so many of us may have forgotten while I think the best lesson I learned was how to see who forgot them…but never learned that it may be too late to for them to learn it now.
I am so satisfied with how I’ve always been towards other people in my life. Yes, some would say that I’ve been overly generous with some people in my life while I’ve always treated people how I’ve wanted to be treated, not necessarily how they deserved to be treated. Maybe that’s a lesson I should have learned, on top of all the others that would have left me with less tears…but I don’t want to be known as being as bad or selfish as those who were around me…who only reminded how glad I was to not be them.