Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Why Feminism? (Part 3)

The Pain and the Great One

Except he wasn’t a monster. He was my little brother. And I didn’t understand how he could do this to me or even why I suddenly hated the sight of him. Why I couldn’t stand to be in the same room with him. Why I went from pushing him only when he was being especially annoying to shoving him away anytime he got close enough to touch.

All I knew was that he was my little brother and I was his big sister. It was my job to keep him safe from bullies and teachers and parents.

I was bossy and sometimes mean; but I wrote stories just for him and I made presents to give him on his birthday. I held his hand and kept an eye out for strangers while we waited for our parents to come back out from the pizza parlor. The only time that I ever really stood up to the mean twins up the street was when they tried to knock him off his bike while he was speeding downhill. My earliest memory is of guarding his crib while our mother walked up the street to meet our older brother at the bus stop on his first day of kindergarten.

He was noisy and annoying but he used to give wet sloppy kisses when he was still in preschool. When we were younger, he’d almost always rather play My Little Ponies with me than play by himself.

We spent most of our childhood fighting loudly and violently one minute, then spend the rest of the day conspiring together on our latest adventure. We built a time-traveling Dolorian out of a cardboard box. We climbed the red hills beside the soccer fields - and got yelled at for getting our uniforms dirty. We pooled our paper carrier money and bought our own tiny Christmas tree just for us that year – the year the den became my bedroom and I learned that my parents stayed up until nearly sunrise every Christmas Eve so that everything would be perfect in the morning.*

He wasn’t a monster, he was just my annoying little brother. He couldn’t mean anything by it. He wasn’t going to do anything to me. He was only nine.

I couldn’t tell our parents, because you don’t tattle on your siblings - unless you are mad at them, of course, or if they are doing something to you. But mad wasn’t the right word for how I felt, and he wasn’t actually doing anything, was he?

It was my job to keep him safe from bullies and teachers and yes, even parents. Only I didn’t know how to do that and keep myself from going crazy.

*for those of you keeping track, this is also the year after the infamous last visit to the cardiologist. I moved into the den a few months later.

No comments: