Warning: some readers may find the following childhood memories too graphic. Darwin and I don’t agree on everything, but that didn’t stop me from acting out his theory of survival upon my brother. Yesterday I told you about Grandpop’s train set and how Kev and I would use it as a trouncing platform. For the truly competitive sibling, every venue can be twisted into such. Saints and Amish excluded. At three years older than Kev, the one doing the trouncing was almost always me. My boredom heralded his misery.
Exhibit A. My father’s picture of us “swimming.” I am smiling the hugest smile. Kev is red-faced and screaming with a wide open mouth (he looks really cute though). How does Darwin play out in a pool between two siblings? When one of them can’t swim and the other peels his chubby little fingers off the side of the pool in the deep end… that’s how.
Exhibit B. Hawker Russian Roulette. The game is played by first pinning your opponent to the ground and leaning over him. The next step is to dangle one’s spit as close to your opponent’s face as possible and then suck it back up before losing control of it. I lost that game a lot, on account of Kev’s squirming. That’s how it is with big sisters. Even when they lose they win.
Exhibit C. The garbage man. You know, irrational kid fear of the garbage truck. What do you think big sis did whenever she heard the rumble of the truck?
I could go on and on. I could have used each letter of the A to Z Writing Challenge to tell you all the ways I made my brother’s life hell. Life for my brother was always me, showing him which one of us was at the top of the food chain. That’s what bullies do: they let you know where you stand evolutionarily speaking.
So how is it I didn’t create a Jeffrey Dahmer with this recipe? I’m not sure, exactly. I believe God is merciful, that the human spirit is stronger than we know, that being bullied forces us to choose. Break or brace.
There came a point when the three years no longer gave me an edge. Kev remembers the day. It was like his own Ralphie moment. Or it could have been. He chose the high road. He chose not to pick on someone smaller than himself. Since that day I’ve tried to be the kind of person who would deserve such pardon. My brother would be the first to tell you: There are two Kelly’s.