Laughter, Tears, and Our Teen Years, by McKennaugh
A few years ago, I invited a friend to come to my house for a sleepover. She came, and we had a good time goofing off, laughing, and joking around. My brothers wanted to be with us, too, but I asked them to leave us alone—we wanted “girl time”. Unfortunately, this friend of mine didn’t think highly of her little brother. She made rude comments about him and complained about what a terrible bother he was. I, though I’m ashamed to admit it, started thinking, Yeah, brothers are a bother. Yeah, they’re no fun. They’re annoying. My mom saw the change in my attitude towards them that night. The next morning, after my friend left, she tearfully confronted me and pointed out how wrong I had treated them. She opened my eyes to what I had done. I realized that, in order to please a friend, I had been a traitor to my BEST friends. My brothers. I vowed in my heart to never again let someone turn my feelings against the people I really loved.
When my brothers and I were little, we spent every minute together. I used to kneel on the floor with Brennan and play matchboxes with him for hours. I remember thinking that it wasn’t any fair when he got matchboxes from someone for Christmas and I didn’t. So what if I was a girl? We did everything together and I liked cars just as much as he did. I grew out of matchboxes long before he did, but that didn’t matter. Nevin, Brennan, and I still made cakes out of mud and pretended in my treehouse. We still hid in the woods and made strange drawings. Mom would ask, “What’s that that you drew?” (“Mo-o-om! It’s a person, of course!!”)
Things change as you grow up. I don’t always like the same things that they like anymore. But there’s one thing that I hope will never change. Our love for each other. If you ask me, I’ll tell you they’re the best brothers ever. Sometimes, yes, siblings get on my nerves. There is only so many times they can circle me yelling, “blaaah booop goop zoom wheeeel wapppa wapppa!!” before I blow up at them.
And, I guess, there’s only so many times that I can talk to them about what I’m writing, what I want to write and what I want them to write, before they run away from me. We have different interests now. They like to work with wood; I like to write novels. Brennan’s a great cook; I slop together noodles or brownies. Nevin likes to make paper airplanes; I like to draw. I want to play Uno; they want to play Camp. There are still things that we enjoy doing together, just not as many as when we were little. But, no matter what, I always want to be their best friend.
Sure, sometimes being a big sister is tough. (I’m sure they would say that being my little brothers is tough, too.) Yesterday, I went to the YMCA with part of my family and Dad was participating in a class there. I wanted to work out, too, but four-year-old Tivon needed somebody to take care of him. So I took him to the play area for kids. There wasn’t much to do in there, so we got out basketballs and bounced them around. Tivon loved that. Finally, I decided that I was going to try out the equipment, anyway. I took all three little brothers into the workout room. Brennan (age 12) and Nevin (age nine) were old enough to take care of themselves. However, you have a slight problem when the four-year-old takes if upon himself to try out the treadmill. I spent my workout time restraining a laughing little guy from falling on his face.
We headed back over to the playroom. “Go potty,” Tivon told me. So I dash out of the YMCA to our car where he can use his portable travel potty. He seems to enjoy taking a loooong time.
At last we get back inside. It’s almost time to go. Nevin runs up to me with his tongue hanging down to his chin. “I’m thirsty,” he pleads.
“Nevin, please, can you wait?”
“No. Just give me the keys to the car and I’ll go.”
I can’t let a nine-year-old walk out to the car alone. Besides, it’s dark out. I have no choice but to go with him.
Tivon is following me with a hula hoop. He’s shrieking with laughter. As I reach the door with Nevin, Tiv tries to run outside too. “Don’t let him get out, Brennan,” I yell. For one thing, I don’t need a little boy to keep track of in the dark, and, for another thing, he’s not allowed to bring the hula hoop outside, since it belongs to the YMCA. Getting the hoop out of his hands would be like stealing a hunk of meat from a wolf. Brennan drags him away from the door. Tivon is screaming now and not with laughter, either.
I rush Nevin to the car. Turns out that he didn’t only want to get a drink, but also wanted to change his outfit. As we come inside, my Dad’s done with the class. He glances at me and says, “You look all frazzled. Have you been running?”
“No,” I say. Unless you count running back and forth from the car, the playroom, the gym, and the workout room.
As we pulled out of the parking lot Dad said, “It sure is dark out tonight.”
I almost said, “Sure is,” when I realized that he was hinting at the fact I didn’t turn the headlights on. Occasionally, sisters have bad days.
But I still don’t regret hanging out with my brothers last night.
Yeah, whenever I upset the four-year-old he runs after me, trying to hit me while yelling, “Spank Kenna! Kenna bein’ BAAAAAD!”
Yeah, a few days ago the twelve-year-old pinned me down on the trampoline while the nine-year-old tried to force-feed me leaves.
But that’s okay. They’re my best friends…and despite the fact I’d get to write this column in a nice quiet room, despite the fact I’d get to work out at the YMCA, despite the fact we have to divide the last orange into a zillion pieces because we must always share, I’d never, ever want to be an only child.
I am so glad my mother took me aside that day to tell me how important siblings are. No matter what, never betray them. Friends will leave you. However, if you really care about your siblings and establish a relationship with them, your brothers and sisters will be your best friends forever.
McKennaugh Kelley (firstname.lastname@example.org) is sixteen years old. She lives in Troy, Pennsylvania with a handful of crazy, creative, but mostly wonderful little brothers.