When I was little, like 10 or 11 years old, my sister and I would sometimes be left in charge of our three younger siblings. Actually, I’m sure I was never left in charge, it was always my sister, Dawn, who was left in charge because she was three years older than me. I would use her authority as my own, and turn into Miss Bossy Sauce, though, letting my younger siblings know what they can and can’t do.
Because of our upbringing, we always relished these moments (or any moment our step mom wasn’t home). It was typical, in our house, that my sister and I were not allowed in any part of the house, except the bathroom or the kitchen. When our family, would be hanging out together in the living room, we were in our bedroom. We didn’t ever watch TV with them, play a board game with them or visit with company with them. We did spend a fair amount of time outside, but living in the Midwest, that was not always enjoyable with the frigid temperatures in winter, or the hot, humid summers. We were unwanted residents in the house, not part of the family; Our own family.
So, when ‘we’ occasionally got put in charge, we’d relish the house empty of real authority and relish our presumed authority.
Our younger siblings grew up with our sequester to our room as ‘normal’. They likely never even wondered or thought about why it was the way it was. It was just that way. Kind of like how I never wondered about why I didn’t have a mom, until I found out that I did have one. Then I wondered why and how I never even considered that I had to have a mom out there somewhere. It was just the way it was, it was normal.
So, when we were in charge, we’d often go and check out the living room, which was definitely off limits to us. I remember standing in the entry of the living room, looking at it one day and wondering what was so amazing in there that I was not allowed in. By this time, my step mom had done a fairly good job of instilling worthlessness into every corner of my being. I looked at the gold couch and the red striped chairs and they looked beautiful to me and I knew that I was not good enough to sit on them. The little figures placed just so, under the lamp that I would never dare to touch, were too special for my fingers anyway. The big tapestry on the wall was begging me to run my fingers over it, but I knew that would never happen, as my feet would never cross the threshold of this room, even if no one was home. The consequences were too great.
Reluctantly, I’d go back to bossing the younger kids around, which was a welcome distraction to the unease looking at the living room created in my belly.
My little brother was the youngest of us all. The baby of the family and the only boy in a house of girls. He was better than a national treasure, except to us girls. He was the one who got picked on, being the littlest and being a boy. At some point, he and I developed this little game that could only be played when no adults were around. Well, maybe I developed the game and he had no choice but to be a
participant victim in it. I would chase him around the yard and ‘almost’ catch him several times.
Now, being several years older than David, I could have easily caught him right away, but what fun is there in a quick catch? I’d chase him and just barely snag his clothing, letting him get away over and over. Letting his anticipation of what he knew was coming build. He’d squeal and beg me to stop and so I’d stop. No, I wouldn’t. Of course I wouldn’t. I was the older sister. Older sisters do not stop, they keep going. It was my self-appointed job as his older sister to torment him. Eventually, I’d get tired of running around the yard, so I’d grab him. This is when he’d really let the neighbors know someone was dying.
Screaming, begging, pleading, all to no avail. I’d put my arm around his neck in pro-wrestling choke hold style and drag him slowly, kicking and screaming, into the house. We’d slowly work our way through the kitchen and down the hallway to the bathroom, where I would oh-so-lovingly, try to get his head as close to the water in the toilet as possible, all while flushing the toilet. I would never have dared to actually get him wet, but he didn’t know this, so he screamed. He’d eventually escape, every time, having just barely avoided being flushed down the toilet.
We played this game for a few years and then, the way of many childhood toys and games, it was forgotten to make room for new distractions.
A few years ago, my brother and I were talking about something, when suddenly, he came and stood right next to me. I’m not sure where he got the genes, but he’s tall. Like, really tall. My little brother is asily a foot taller than me, maybe more. He smiled at me and said, “Hey, Shawn, remember when we were little kids? You would always chase me around the yard and drag me down the hall to the bathroom?” As he was speaking he was slowly moving his arm up to put me in a choke hold. Of course I didn’t really think he’d do anything, but one can never be sure when it comes to siblings. He started moving me toward the bathroom and I started panicking, “I never actually got you wet!” I kept repeating over and over, until he finally released me, well before making it into the bathroom. Clearly he’s a much nicer sibling than I am, because I’m sure I might have taken it a bit further.
We both had a good laugh, mine, relieved, his with new found power.
Everyone grows up, time passes and things change, and the power I had years ago can shift and I may find that I have lost it. At the same time, the day may come where I may find that suddenly the power is all mine. The goal is not to be sad I don’t have it or be excited I do have it, but to use it wisely when it is within my grasp. Otherwise I may find myself being dragged down the hallway to a fate worse than death.