Who needs a big brother anyway?

Meg Duncan is a columnist for the Courier-Post.
Meg Duncan
Courier-Post Columnist
Posted: Jan. 3, 2019 11:01 am

We sat cross legged on the floor, balancing Captain Crunch between our knees.

I wanted to watch the Gummy Bears, and he was watching GI Joe, or something equally as annoying - I don’t remember. I grabbed the remote from the coffee table and flicked it to my show.

"Hey! Turn it back right now!"

I focused on the little bouncy bears. Giggled at their antics - whatever they were, because I cannot remember a single thing about this cartoon now, even though it was my one of my favorites back then along with Rainbow Brite and She-Ra.

Ben continued screaming in the background, and then he did the unthinkable. It was basically inciting violence to a nine-year old - especially on a Saturday morning.

He stole the remote. Right out of my hand. So then, of course, I grabbed it right back.

Moments later, Dad walked in on a blurry pile of flying fists and pulled me off my big brother just as I was about to sink my teeth into his arm.

"Stop it right now!"

I pointed at him, and he pointed at me.

"She (he) stole the remote!"  We shouted in unison.

We exchanged dirty looks while cleaning the milk soaked carpet and scattered bits of Captain Crunch off the floor, and Dad lectured us.

"Every time you guys fight, I want you think about what your life would be like without each other."

Well, that sounded just fine to me. Who needs big brothers anyway? If Ben wasn’t there, I would be peacefully watching The Gummy Bears and enjoying my Captain Crunch.

I am pretty sure he felt the same way about me.

Now I understand what Dad meant.

He knew all too well what life was like without a brother. His own big brother was killed in a car accident at eighteen-years old when Dad was only eleven. He regularly made visits to Grand View Cemetery to carefully clean his gravestone.

Of course, that wasn’t on my mind at the time, though.

I could only think about the horrible thing Ben did.

(In case you forgot, he stole the remote.)

Three decades later, my family headed out for a day of shopping.

During the twenty minute trip to Quincy, my kids had 462 arguments.

This is an estimated 23.1 fights per mile.

One leaned too close to the other.

One smacked his lips too loudly.

One made farting noises.

The other wasn’t just making the noises (we rolled the windows down).

One kid was breathing funny.

One kid was breathing. Just breathing.

"Mom! He took my tablet!"

With their seat belts extended as far as they’d go, their arms swatted at each other until Logan knocked Connor in the nose.


They froze and stared at me - just like they always do when I lose my crap with them.

(Every melt down I have is just like the first.)

After grounding them from both of their tablets, I started that same old lecture that Dad once gave Ben and me.

"Every time you guys fight, I want you think about what your life would be like without each other."

And I knew exactly what they were thinking as they exchanged dirty looks.

Who needs a brother anyway?

Well, I can now say with confidence that I do.

As adults, we exchange texts instead of dirty looks, and our constant tattling has morphed into constant support for each other’s dreams. If not for Ben pouring his time into my first book as an editor, I would not have had the courage to publish it, and he is a big reason I’ve had the courage to start on my second.

Looking at the set of brothers in the back seat, I knew they would one day appreciate each other just like Ben and I now do.

Until then, their Dad and I like to mimic their fights and force them to listen to it for fun.

So, I told him he was a doody head.

He said I am a big green booger eater.

"Yeah well at least I haven't let the faucet drip for two years." My response.

"Well the faucet might drip but I don't spend money like water." His response.

Then the kids went back to fighting and now the whole car isn't speaking to each other.

It’s kinda nice.


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