When I was born, my older brother was 11 months old. I always told my mother that I knew I was a "mistake" because no sane person would plan to get pregnant when her first born was a measly 3 months old. Expectedly, my mother denied it. My brother always agreed with me.
When we were in our tween and teen years, my brother and I, both equally competitive and athletic, played pickup games of baseball and football with other neighborhood kids. Those were the times we actually got along. The rest of the time, we did not.
We fought about everything: The difference in our ages (he would say he was a year older; I would say 11 months, 2 weeks); what to watch on T.V.; who was going to get his or her lazy butt off the couch to change the channel (no easy task in those days...especially if there was no dial and you had to maneuver a pair of pliers to do your channel-surfing); who was going to start dinner before mom got home.
We fought over baseball: I was a Yankees fan; he was a Red Sox fan. We fought about music: I enjoyed singing along-loudly-to my mom's Barry Manilow albums; he blasted Rush, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and AC-DC. Our music battles were particularly contentious in that we would blast our respective record players to see who could drown out the other. Essentially, my brother was a big jerk, and I was misunderstood. (Just kidding.) But this much is true: The list was endless of things over which we would brawl.
As I listen to my kids today, I hear my brother and me. They fight about the smallest things. My son seems to constantly feel a sense of injustice that his older sibling has more freedoms and privileges. Meanwhile, my daughter constantly nags him. She scoffs at him for talking, walking, and just being. He whines about her friends, all the sleepovers they have, and their refusal to let him hang with them.
God forbid they are lounging on the couch together:
"His feet are in my face!"
"She won't give me any room!"
My son listens to the same classic rock music my brother did. My daughter listens to pop music. He complains when she changes the radio station in the car; she turns down his stereo when he's not looking. When I was preparing for this blog, I asked them about their fights, and they argued over what they fight about.
Although my brother and I fought often as kids, deep down, I knew he looked out for me and I could rely on him to protect me from the outside world. Of course, we matured, and he eventually evolved into the big protective brother. I remember him frequently warning guys to stay away from his sister, especially in the restaurant where we both worked. Today we enjoy a caring relationship with each other and our younger sister.
When I told my kids how, one day, they would have a loving and caring relationship like their uncle and I have now, my son said, "No way, never going to happen." My daughter replied simply by pointing a finger in her mouth. Then-the realization that they wouldn't have to live together: "Wait, we're never going to have to see each other?" "Yes!"
Of course, I know they too will always love and protect each other, whether they are willing to admit it. While I may not be able to convince them how much they will eventually appreciate one another, I know from experience that they will.