One of the nice things about writing these stories on my own blog is the license it gives me to tell stories about my brothers. I suppose if this were a family collaboration there might be some tales best left unsaid. However, this is venue is mine and I have a bit more freedom here.
My brothers are significantly younger than I am. I was basically an only child until I was a teenager. When I was almost 13, my first brother was born, followed in quick succession by 3 more boys, one of whom died right after his birth. I am 17 years older than my youngest brother. It would therefore stand to reason that my brothers and I were brought up very differently. My father retired from the military when I was 19, so the boys, as I call my brothers, were raised in one place. They had older, unhealthy parents on a limited income.
But, they had each other, while I had a rather solitary childhood. They fought like normal brothers, but to this day, they are best friends. When they get together, they laugh and kid each other about things that happened when they were little.
Mom often put them in the tub together. It was just easier to bathe them all at once and cheaper to fill the tub only one time. The boys played with toys and splashed each other as Mom tried to wash each one in turn. One time, when they were about 5,3 and 1, the youngest pooped in the tub. The other two boys started yelling madly to escape the grossness of the water. Mom immediately removed the pooper and then the 3 year old and finally helped the 5 year old out of the water. To this day, the oldest brother shudders as he talks about being the last one left in with the offending object as it slowly floated closer and closer to him. “Why did mom leave me in the water longest, when I didn’t do anything?”
When the time came and the oldest brother was 13, my parents left him in charge of the other two for an evening. He kept a log of every single thing my other two brothers did wrong and wrote it to up for my parents to read when they returned home. In it he wrote, “Mom and Dad, I tried, I really tried. First of all, they wouldn’t do anything that I asked. I tried to get Dan to do the dishes, but he wouldn’t. Then I tried to get David to behave, but he wouldn’t. Mom, Dad, he threatened me with a butcher knife and then he ran away. I tried to catch him, but I couldn’t. Finally, he came back on his own. I tried to be patient and kind, but they wouldn’t let me. I love you, Mom and Dad, signed, John.” Of course, my brothers said it was totally false, that he was a despot and they were perfect angels.
All three of my brothers had wonderful imaginations. They would make up games to play with each other. Always, these games would involve some kind of imaginary weapons. They’d chase each other around with these imaginary things, always trying to best each other. The very last time they ever played this type of game, the youngest decided he was a killer bee and thought he had finally come up with something no one could stop. The oldest, then became a flame thrower and burned the bee’s rear end off. David, the youngest was so mad that the game wasn’t ever played again, but it had lasted months and months.
If one of them got in trouble for picking on the other brothers and was sent to his room for a time out, the offended party always went to my parents to plead for mercy for their punished brother. They were never happy to see any of their brothers in trouble. Oh, they got each other in trouble, but the consequence of not being able to play was punishment for all of them.