Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sibling Rivalry

I talked to my brother a couple nights ago. This is rare. We have managed not to be in the same country at the same time for 4 years. Unless you count the 24 hours where I was in Toronto and he was in Vancouver, but being on opposite ends of Canada doesn't do much for seeing one another.

The thing is, we're not close. And the only reason we saw each other growing up was because we lived in the same house. Obviously, since we make no effort whatsoever to see one another now. Although, that might be the whole different hemispheres thing.

I don't know if you could call what goes down between me and my brother sibling rivalry. In fact, comparing my brother and me, is like comparing apples and oranges. Shiny, spotless, bright red apples and oranges that fell out of the tree and got stampeded by buffalo.

My brother inherited just about every "good" trait from my parents. He's got Mummy's musical talent (she was in a band) and he's the stable, hardworking one. He's tall and thin, an athlete. Seriously, my brother is all literary crush material. My friends used to joke that if he was older... Thank God he isn't. (He's 4 years younger.)

On the other hand, there's me. I inherited my father's musical talent. So while my brother plays sax and clarinet and can carry a tune, my singing (and playing) might just inspire the neighbours to call the vet and have the dying penguin next door put out of it's misery. I'm fat like Mummy. Well, not like Mummy, but fat nonetheless. And it has nothing to do with what I eat, or how much I do. I've never been an overeater, as a kid I didn't like sweets (my friends still think I'm crazy because I can't stomach cheesecake or chocolate, and hardly ever eat ice cream on purpose!), and I've always been active.

And while lil bro is a studier, I'm a natural. Not to blow my own horn, but I hardly study. School for me went like this:

Month 1: Study hard, read everything, hand in assignments early.
After: Sleep on books, claiming that I will learn by osmosis; listen in class, because I'm never lifting a finger outside it; turn in assignments with seconds to spare or not at all.

Seriously, the only reason I got through school is because I was good at it. And subjects that required a little more effort than sheer brilliance, got failed, ignored and dropped the minute they'd let me drop them. The grand irony in all this is that my parents thought I would be a good student, because I ate books for dinner as a kid. And because I did really well in the national exam and got into the top school. My brother had a lot of trouble reading and he ended up at the no. 3 school. The lessons to be learned here:

1. Reading does not equal studying.
2. Being naturally good at something does not equal success.

My brother's academic career was almost as successful as mine. His hard work nearly cancelled out my smarts.

I also inherited my father's fascination for shiny new stuff. Growing up, I remember my Dad having 4 jobs. He was the full-time IT manager for the biggest department store on the island. He was also a Captain in the army, a teacher at the polytechnic and something else that I can't call to mind right now. lol. Money was not tight. We were a solidly middle class, 2 car, 1-trip-a-year family. As far as I can tell, he did these things because he felt like. On top of that, he was the manager of the Army Rifle team, and the National Domino team. Yeah, clearly my attention span is genetic.

My brother and I are on the opposite end of the spectrum for just about everything. He's living in Canada, surrounded by my Mom's side of the family, working for a big name computer company, doing design. Meanwhile, I'm in Japan. The closest person from my country is 600 km away, and my closest family is in Australia. I'm winging it on this teaching thing and writing in my spare time.

I made the mistake of telling my brother that I'm a writer in that convo. His reply:

"No, you're a teacher."

Just in case I had forgotten that we have nothing in common and are better off not talking.

As a YA writer, I think about siblings a lot. Sibling and parent relationships can be just as important to a teen as friends. Growing up all my friends pretty much either despised or adored their parents and siblings.

I don't have a problem with Mr. Perfect- er, my little brother. I can't say he feels the same about me. I think he thinks I should (wo)man up and be more responsible instead of gallivanting the world. Maybe some day. But for now I know that there are some people who like to know they've woken up on the same soil they woke up on yesterday, last week and last year. And then there are people like me.

How about you? Did you have siblings? Were you close? Are you now? Did you imagine better siblings for yourself? lol.


Abby Stevens said...

I do think sibling relationships are very important in life and in YA. My book focuses very heavily on sibling rivalry and interactions, actually!

KO said...

I have two older sisters, one I was super-close to growing up-- the other not so much. Now that we're older we're all equally close, but actually somewhere between the two extremes-- I wouldn't call them my best friends, but we all get along okay. Now that we're all grown up we live farther apart, and in some ways that means we all pursue our own things, and keep out of each other's hair. It works for me.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I have an older brother and like you and your brother, we are not at all close. We just have nothing in common.

Marsha Sigman said...

I have 5 brothers and sisters. I am the youngest. The oldest and I have both always loved to read, but other than that I would swear to being adopted. I have decided to adopt all my writery friends as

Claire Dawn said...

Hear, hear, Marsha!