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Why I Bugged The Crap Out Of My Big Brother (an apology on behalf of little sibs everywhere)

One night at dinner, Tye was repeating everything Cassidy said at grace.

Cassidy (6 years old) – “MAAAAAMAAAAA! Make him STOOOPPPPP!”

Me – “Cassidy, he is only repeating you because he adores you and wants to be just like you.”

Tye (4 years old) – “Yeah. I just want to be like Cassidy.”

Cassidy (without missing a beat) – “And I want a penis.”

To my big brother, Shawn – from the bottom of my heart, I am sorry.

I see it in my son, who adoringly tortures his big sister every day. His love for her is, quite literally, tangible and in her face every waking moment. Like, literally. He cannot be close enough to her. He constantly wants to hug her, kiss her, and invade her personal space in the irritating way that only a little sibling can.

One of Cassidy’s friends has parents who are considering having another child. They asked their youngest daughter how she would feel about having a little brother (having 2 girls, they were feeling optimistic about their ability to bring a little testosterone to the house when posing this question). “No way,” she said emphatically. “He would bug me.” The parents smirked knowingly at their youngest and asked, “The same way you bug your big sister?” Without missing a beat, she said, “NO! The way Tye bugs Cassidy.”

Recently, Tye misplaced the box to a Wii game. For the fourth time that day. The kids wanted to switch games, but I wouldn’t let them play a new one until the old box was found. Cassidy’s jaw just about hit the floor when I dropped this news. “But I DIDN’T LOSE IT, MAMA!” she protested. “TYE DID!!!” She glared at her brother as she began looking for the missing box. I came upstairs, confident that they would find it as a team and be stronger for the combined effort.

Tye promptly skipped up the stairs to ask for a glass of water.

“Tye, go help your sister find the box,” I said evenly. “I will have more energy if I drink some water,” he said, with way too much energy. I gave him the water and continued to clean. Less than two minutes later, he bounded up the stairs again, asking for more water. Why? Because he needed more energy. Less than 2 minutes later again, he skidded around the corner and ran to the bathroom. “I have to pee!” he squealed.

At that moment, I knew.

I was once Tye.

I hung my little sibling head in shame.

My big brother, Shawn, is 21 months older than me. Cassidy is 21 months older than Tye. He worships the ground she walks on, and I love him for it. I think it’s cute. I empathize with him.

I see it so clearly now. I relate to his efforts to bond with her, because I made those same desperate efforts.

“What kind of ice cream do you want, Shawn?” Dad would ask.

“Make Shannon pick first,” he would say, glaring suspiciously at me.

“What kind of ice cream do you want, Shannon?” Dad asked.

“Ummmm… vanilla.” I might say. But I think I probably knew in my heart of little siblings hearts that it really didn’t matter what I picked.

“I want chocolate,” Shawn would whisper in my Dad’s ear.

Without missing a beat… well, if you have 2 kids, you know what comes next.

“I want chocolate, too.”

I might have been looking at the multitude of flavors that I probably really wanted, or drinking water from a fountain, or playing with a bug on the floor, or taking a jog around the block. It wouldn’t have mattered. I would have heard him. He might have been picking the most outrageous, horrible, disgusting flavor the ice cream Gods ever invented… but it still would’ve played out the same.


“I am NOT!” I would protest. “I just changed my mind!”

“Fine,” he would grump. “I want bubblegum.”

Wait for it…

“I want bubblegum, too.”

Such is the relationship between siblings. When there is a close age gap, I believe the younger one will always idolize the older one to some extent. I mean, let’s get real here. Who taught me to read?


Who taught me to flip my tongue upside-down?


Who tried – for hours – to teach me how to armpit fart?


Who cried with me when our parents divorced… both times (yeah, you read that right)?


Who ruined my visions of sugar plums by demonstrating that Dad and Santa had the same handwriting? Taught me how to slide down the stairs on a pillow? Always was my rollercoaster partner on the Gemini for the umpteenth time that day?

Shawn, Shawn, and Shawn.

Who was in college and came home to take care of me to help clean up a massive mess after I threw a party when Dad was out of town?

You guessed it. Shawn.

Who was the first one I recognized after I woke up from my coma?

It was Shawn.

So many big things, little things, funny things, things that mattered, things that didn’t… so many things, I learned from my big brother. I watched him. I traced his steps. I copied him.

All because I loved him. So much.

And I still do.

Just like Tye loves Cassidy.

It is a big sibling’s job to mold their little sibling. It is a little sibling’s job to drive a big sibling crazy. I mean, there is just no way around that reality.

me and Shawn grown-up JPEG

So Shawn, I want you to take a good look at me today. Everything I am, you helped to build. Everything I believe, you have supported and respected… even when it’s different from what you believe. You never judge me. Even when I annoy the hell out of you (which I know I still do – and let’s be honest, you bug the crap out of me, too), I know that you will always come running when I am falling apart. When I feel threatened, I know you will be the first to take a stand, Glamdring in hand, ready to defeat Sauron or any other cretin who has dared insult me.

You have always had my back.

And I want you to know how much I love you for that.

Oh – and one more thing. As much as I love chocolate…I really have always preferred vanilla with toffee and caramel swirl. Order away.


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I’ve not entered Vivian Kirkfield’s #50PreciousWords contest before, but felt moved to write this yesterday. If you’d like to enter as well (or if you’d like to comment on my entry), you can do so her


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