My sister and I are thirteen months apart. Growing up, we fought over everything from Barbie Dolls to hairspray. Megan could craft the perfect 1980s poof while I failed miserably. She was theatrical. I was bookish. I was the baby sister who happened to be four inches taller, so it frustrated Megan to no end that she could never successfully squash me. Not for lack of trying, mind you. Our personalities, friends, and interests simply never lined up, and our teenage battles remain part of local folklore.
Thankfully, we can laugh about it now.
Still, when I gave birth to three boys in three years, I began to worry. What if my guys all possess diametrically different dispositions, too? What kind of horrible teen years awaited us? And what if my kids sought to excel at the SAME stuff? Would the competition create life-long tension and general upheaval? Oh the humanity.
I looked around for a sign of things to come.
And luckily, I got one.
This week, two of my nephews face off against each other in college volleyball. Big brother Bobby plays for the #2 ranked program in the country – Lewis University:
Credit: Steve Woltmann
Baby brother Matthew plays for #15 ranked Ball State:
Credit: Alaina Jaye
I have known these lads almost their whole lives, and I have never once heard a cross word spoken between them.
What. The. Frick.
My boys fight over who can clip their toenails faster.
And who pours a neater bowl of Froot Loops.
Suddenly, a memory stirred. Big brother Bobby was about eight years old and cajoling a bunch of kids and younger siblings into playing a game of tag. He spoke a familiar language of competition and winning. Rules were being laid out. Kids were foaming at the mouth. The taste of victory permeated the air.
And then there was Matthew.
“Meh. I’m out.”
Fifteen children jumped down his throat and Matthew wouldn’t budge.
He didn’t even get upset, and instead wished them well with their game.
For a kid who can now drill a volleyball straight through Middle Earth, it has been a treat to watch him transform on a volleyball court.
Yet the second he steps off?
Damn if he won’t donate some blood or help you find your puppy.
No, I do not believe the secret to raising kids who get along has much to do with parenting. I think it really is luck of the genetic draw. And while I adore my nephew Bobby, I may secretly be cheering for baby brother (and slightly taller) Matthew this Thursday. We younger siblings have to stick together.
And I never liked playing tag, either.