If My Younger Bro Hadn't Been Born

Having two brothers means there is usually something ridiculous and goofy going on at home. I am the middle child and my two brothers are Timmy, and Andrew - the boys are ten years apart but these days it can be difficult to tell them apart from afar. Growing up with them involved many hours watching soccer games, purposely destroying their Lego structures, playing with transformers, and being the victim of Tickle-Tortures. Tickle-Torture is exactly what it sounds like except when you're forever smaller than your younger brother, it somehow seems even more torturous.

All in good fun, of course.

But when you're in the second grade and seven years old, it might not immediately seem like having two brothers is all in good fun. When my parents first told me that I'd have a younger brother I wondered what it would be like to be a big sister. And now that I think about it, it never actually occurred to me that there was a possibility Andrew could have O.I. (He doesn't - neither of my brother's do).
Instead I wondered what it would be like to have to share a room with a baby brother. What would it be like to have to share my toys with him? What would it be like to teach him how to read? What would it be like to have crawl-races on our living room floor together? As I sat next to my parents on our couch that night when we found out, I felt an immediate enormity - both in size and in importance!

What if that day in 1993 hadn't happened? What if my parents never said I would have a younger sibling? How would things be different? Who would I be today?

For starters I don't think I'd be half as responsible as I am today. When he was a baby, Andrew used to have his own set of medical issues involving G.I. problems - he vomited a lot and for almost his first year one or two years required a feeding tube inserted through his nose. From the perspective of a young child - a seven or eight year old - this was horrifying! I was terrified and worried constantly about whether or not he would grow-up to be 'normal' in the way that I, of course, considered myself to be normal. Would he be able to go to school without kids making fun of him? Or would he need to walk around with a tube up his nose forever? Around that time I made up my mind that I would be the one to teach him how awesome it is to be visibly different, and how you can still have plenty of friends and lead a normal life despite any challenges.
I also saw the stress and strain that this brought on for my parents. Mom and dad fought constantly during this time because of the difficulties involved with caring for two children with special needs -- so I immediately began to try my hardest to take care of myself. Although I could always see the worry lines and stress that weighed on my parents every time I fractured a bone, watching them go through separate medical issues with my younger brother had a wholly different impact on me. It led me to believe the baby needs mom and dad more than I do right now. Someone else will always need more help than I do, and there are somethings I can do on my own now. Whether that meant picking out my own clothes in the morning, changing the batteries in my hearing-aids, or learning to do my own transfers from toilet to wheelchair with various casts on -- at seven I began to learn that independence is a skill that isn't just for my own benefit, but because it would also be helpful to others if I were more independent.

Me and Andrew celebrating his birthday.
By the time Andrew was in Kindergarten all of his G.I. problems had gone away. Like any other teenage boy Andrew now eats everything, and will probably be taller than my older brother if he isn't already (despite whatever Timmy says). Between the time Andrew was transitioning from preschool to kindergarten we found out that like me, my younger brother also has a hearing-loss. The neutral colored clunky ear pieces that hung off his ears were a source of embarrassment for Andrew. He despises drawing any attention to himself, and in general would much rather blend in and cause as little disturbance as possible. That is, until he came across the violin.
Most who know my younger brother (in real life) also know that he is a brilliant musician. He took up the violin not long after we first discovered his hearing-loss and has never looked back since. When he plays the last thing on your mind is hearing-loss or hearing-aid because the precision of his finger-placement, the exact timing of every note is so perfect that when he plays in the background when I am on the phone - friends often say "Sandy what recording are you listening to?"

By watching Andrew find confidence with his hearing-loss through his passion for music, and playing the violin -- I have learned to find confidence in connecting with others through my writing. Had my younger brother not been born I wouldn't have been able to see this magic creativity offers by watching someone else perform it.

So had my younger brother not been born, those are just a few of the things I would be missing out on. Sure, maybe I would eventually learn to become more independent. Maybe I would have eventually learned how to do my own transfers with a cast on. And maybe I would have discovered the pleasant effect classical music has on my concentration -- but would it have been the same? Would it have been as hilarious or surprising? Would I have cared about the things I do now in the same way? Would I still be the same person? No, absolutely not. 

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5 Responses to If My Younger Bro Hadn't Been Born

  1. That was a touching article. I’m glad that, despite your illness and problems, you were able to rise to the occasion. Your strength of character is commendable, and even hearing loss would not get in the way of your being independent. You even take care of your little brother who has the same condition as yours. I’m sure your brother appreciates everything you’ve done for him. You are one amazing big sister!

    1. D'aww thanks! I'm sorry that I only just saw this comment now so many months later. :-) I make sure I add in some moments of "Evil Big Sister" with moments of "Good Sister." Kinda like a Bad Cop Good Cop dealio ;-)

  2. There’s a lesson to be learned in your story, Sandy. Even if a person has lost his hearing, it doesn’t mean that his world will stop there. There are a lot of things that a person can focus on. Like Andrew, his passion for music never disappeared. This can serve as an inspiration to other people who are also suffering from hearing loss. Heck, even Beethoven, one of the greatest musicians and composers of all time, was deaf. If he could create all those beautiful masterpieces, I don’t see why Andrew can’t do the same.

    1. Thanks for pointing this out Serena! You're so right and I can only hope that others will take away the same that you did after reading this as well. Happy Holidays to you & yours! =)

  3. Your blog is wonderful. For parents who worry about the effect siblings with various needs have on each other, this is a fabulous read.


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