it looks like baby brother is beginning to realize that he and his big sis are probably a bit more different than he thought. and yet, it feels like he holds the same fear of me he had as a kid - not that my "manly man" brother would ever admit that.
i'd be the first one to admit that mcat and i were pretty shitty to each other as kids. i was a bossy kid, bitchy, bitter, and in a hell of a lot more confusion than was really necessary for a teenager. our mother was a huge part of the problem. one day it was okay to forget the dishes, the next day it sent her into a screeching fury' and rarely did she interfere with our conflicts. yes, mother's illness was showing up even then, and she tended to leave us pretty much unsupervised most of the time. it was a scary time for us. little supervision, a parent that's inconsistent in her demands, a stepfather who lived on the opposite coast. it was tough to grow up like that, and it was definitely reflected in how we treated each other, which is to say we treated each other badly. fights were physical - i learned to throw my temper and objects with mcat. (i don't throw things any more, but my temper can still be quite explosive. the good news is that once it's out, it's over and done with - no sulking for hours, days, weeks, whatever.) we used whatever weapons we had at our disposal, whether it be belts or hitting below the belt (so to speak, which was his frequent method of defense/attack). did we love each other? yes, but we didn't have examples as older kids on how to show it. when we were real little, we saw some of it at family gatherings, particularly around christmas, but such seasonal, conditional love is hardly enough for two little kids to be able to use when they get to those explosive teen years. and they were quite explosive. as much as i hated that our dad (well, his dad and my stepfather) didn't take me too when he finally took custody of my brother, i was also grateful at the time. i didn't have to try to raise him as well as myself (since our mother was doing such a wonderful job of not raising us), and the daily trying to kill each other finally stopped.
a heavy burden for a 13-16 year old. and i was having enough trouble trying to grow myself up.
i apparently lucked out when we got older. he had a tougher time with dad and his new wife than i did with our "crazy" mother, but only because i lucked out with some wonderful friends who helped me get my head on straight before i became a completely fucked up adult. who knows what kind of psychopathic bitch i would have become without them, and without god. i accepted jesus as my lord when i was 15 or 16 and my entire outlook on life took a change - not from anything i did. i had tried to make those changes myself for a long time before that, only when i embraced my savior did things change.
i do sometimes wonder how different i would be if i had gone to our father's with him. i know dad would have kept us supervised. or his cold, hard wife. (no, i never did like her, and it had nothing to do with that stepmother/stepdaughter bs you hear about - even mcat says she was a cold, hard person. this is a woman that, when my brother was 17, wouldn't let him make himself a damn snack after school because she didn't trust him not to screw up her kitchen). i doubt i would have become a christian. but i might have finished college earlier and not had to deal with such poverty in my adult life too. who knows? i am who i am, and i don't think i'm all that bad. for a kid who had to practically raise herself, with a little help from a couple of other teenagers and one other adult, i think i've come out pretty good.
but the chains of the past still seem to be wrapped around our relationship. perhaps not as much as it appears - his tendency to tell saxy one thing and me another isn't, apparently, exclusive to us. he apparently runs his business this way, and it has caused some problems for him there. i can't help but think that maybe he had to cover his ass way too many times with dad and his wife and its become a habit. but, at the same time, it feels like he's afraid to set me off - like he's afraid i'll turn into the psyched out, crazy, out of control teenager i was. in a way it wouldn't be a surprise if he's reacting that way. i remember when i first has kitten and had to go to our grandfather's funeral. my entire family treated me like i was still a teenager and had no idea how to take care of my baby. they hadn't seen me since i was 13 or 14 or something, and somehow i was still in those teen years for them. it could be the same for mcat - we haven't seen enough of each other for him to realize that i'm not that freaked out kid anymore.
there are the natural differences just from growing up in different environments and from being through different circumstances in our lives. mcat seems to have a problem accepting when people are different or do things different from him. there's no real flexibility there. a small example is when he offered us some shoes for froggy that had been his daughter's. i thanked him, but told him that we don't "do" used shoes - used clothing, yes - but not used shoes because i'd read/heard someplace a long time ago (and i'm sure it was a legitimate source or i wouldn't have paid much attention, considering our financial situation and the money used shoes can save you) that they can damage your feet because they've conformed to the first owner's feet. he obviously didn't get it and it sounded like he resented the fact that we wouldn't take his charity. and we've had some difficulty getting across to him how hard it is to raise a disabled child and why it's important for me to be available for my son (of course, taz has made something of a liar of me there with how easily he has adjusted), but i think that's part and parcel of not being a parent of a differently-abled child - no one can get it unless they've experienced it.
then there's the differences our families have in terms of time spent and other things. saxy doesn't mind working his 5 or 6 days, but he likes his days off. he's not a workaholic, he spends time with his family, and we have certain nights that are set aside just for that. my brother, on the other hand, would work everyday and seems reluctant to spend time at home with the family. i'm sure there's more to it than that, but i can only go by how it looks on the outside. and it's not that i mind saxy going out every now and then, but on fridays, saxy tends to want to come home and be with his family. and we have a family time on sundays that consist of a family movie with all the kids and "american dreams" with the oldest.
we also believe in "kid chores" which our kids, including taz, do every weekend since school has to take precedence during the week. as far as we can tell, mcat's kids don't do chores (well, okay, the youngest is a bit too young to do chores yet, but his oldest could). we have kid chores because when these kids leave our house they have to be able to take care of themselves. so they need to know how to keep a place clean (even if they choose not to, they should at least know), how to do laundry, how to cook, and so on. it's all part of that responsible adulthood deal and it has to start somewhere. i'd be doing the allowance thing to teach about money too, if i could.
and then there's the personal differences - the biggest of which seem to be that he's more . . . practical than i am. he's a "do the job, dreams can wait" kind of person, while i'm a "follow your dreams while you can" kind of person. i always thought i was a person who craved security, but mcat really makes me wonder if that's true because i'd rather we all be happy more than anything. i've always told saxy, if you earn only a minimum wage, but are happy with what you're doing, then we'll deal with living on a minimum wage. and i mean that. how happy you are in your work affects how happy you are in life, and i'd rather he be happy. (and one day we will get him in culinary school. it's just incredibly expensive!)
none of this is saying his way of doing things is wrong. i tend to let people be who they are and appreciate the differences. differences is part of what enriches our relationships. we learn things from those differences. differences keeps the world, our relationships, and other people from being boring. but there are a lot of little differences poking their heads up between us now. differences between how we were and how we are, differences in how live and think and believe. i'm just hoping that he's not regretting helping us.