Though he is not little anymore, as illustrated by his size 13 sneakers, I still think of him that way. I was 3 and a half when Mike was born. He was a pretty big deal in my family. He was the first boy to come along in many years, and everyone went gaga over him. I’m pretty sure I was gaga over him in the beginning too. After all, I was a big sister. That’s a very important job.
Oh how things would change. Most of my childhood memories involve me being incredibly mean to him, in one way or another. I am not proud of it, but it is what it is. I’m sure there was some resentment there with him getting all of the attention in the family, though I don’t have any specific memories of jealousy.
Most siblings go through periods of fighting, not getting along, etc. My meanness towards him went beyond the normal day to day squabbles. I was constantly cutting him down, verbally and physically. I made him play games with me so I could beat him. We played countless hours of basketball, lightning, soccer, and probably some completely made-up games for good measure, and I always won.
I yelled at him and hit him for no reason at all. I still have a vivid memory of being at Six Flags Great America with my aunt and uncle, two cousins, and my brother. We were walking through the park and he made me mad. I smacked him so hard on the back that he fell forward and started to cry. I will never forget the looks of disbelief from the rest of my family members. They knew we fought, but hitting him hard enough to leave a hand print over what was probably nothing was over the line. I’m sure he doesn’t remember it, but I still feel terrible about it to this day.
The thing that gets me is that through all of my abuse, through everything I dished out at him, he was nothing but nice to me. He always wanted to play with me, and I like to think now that in some twisted way, he looked up to me as his big sister.
As we grew older and I started high school, things started to improve. I was still sometimes verbally mean to him, but the days of us physically fighting were over, as he was getting big enough to kick my ass.
When I moved to Minneapolis for my first year of college, things got even better. We actually talked on the phone (occasionally), and during my visits home, we got along like normal humans. Dare I say I began to enjoy his company.
In 2002, we had a joint graduation party. Me from college, him from high school. Mike being the smarty-pants that he is, headed out east that fall to attend MIT. Four years later, I attended his graduation.
Now he lives in the Washington DC area, and works as an engineer. Something having to do with nuclear power, clearly way over my head. He also plays drums in a local DC band. I am so freaking proud of him for everything he’s accomplished, and I like to think that in some small way, my years of being the meanest sister ever played a part in his character building. I believe this to be true because today he is one of the most genuinely awesome people I know.
I am heading out to DC today with my mom, aunt, uncle, and their three kids for a visit. Tonight we are going to see him play in a concert, and the rest of the weekend will be filled with sight-seeing, hiking and just hanging out. Though we don’t get to see each other often, and don’t talk on the phone as much as we should, I think we are closer than ever. In all of our dorky glory: