Everyone has a love/hate relationship with their siblings. And if you say that you don't, you're either crazy or you're lying. Growing up, sometimes I asked myself, "Why aren't I an only child?"
My littlest brother has been bugging me since I was 4. He was born, and at the time I'm sure I thought it was the greatest thing to ever happen to me. Then he started talking. And walking. And figuring out how to push my buttons in ways that no human being ever could. (Don't worry little bro, I'll say nicer things about you later, just keep reading.)
My brother and I fought more than any pair of siblings I'd ever met in my childhood. My friends had little brothers but none of them ever seemed as fed up with theirs as I was with mine. There were times when he didn't even have to speak and I'd be furious with him. Everything set us off. As kids, we used to fight each other (physically), even though I was probably triple his weight. I remember a time when he knocked out one of my teeth, and in return, I hit him so hard he had bruises.
Do we sound certifiably insane yet? No? Just wait, it gets better.
We continued this kind of fighting until I was well into my teens. By that time he was growing, and soon he and I were an even match in terms of strength and height. This made our "wrestling" as my mom liked to call it, all the more crazy.
Once it got so heated during a car ride that we both started yelling ways we would kill the other if we had the chance. (This is the part that makes us really sound crazy.) We went back and forth for what felt like an eternity, but the funny part is that by the time we reached our destination, we were laughing so hard we had tears. We were complimenting the other's creativity and trying so hard to outdo each other coming up with the funniest ways to die.
The point of this is not to make everyone think that all we ever did was scream at each other. He's one of my favorite people on Earth, and a lot of my best childhood memories took place with him next to me.
What really helped was when I went off to college. It caught me by surprise how much I missed him. I checked in with him more than I expected, which probably annoyed him, and I found that I missed being in his company. I even missed our fights.
Now that I'm entering adulthood and he's living out his long-awaited teenage years, our fighting is less frequent and less intense.
I reflect back on my childhood growing up with my little brother, and I realized that if I hadn't had him by my side, I wouldn't be the person I am today and I'd lack a lot of the qualities that I love about myself. Part of the reason I'm tough and independent is that I had to be, growing up with him. Fighting with him taught me that I had to be able to hold my own in the world. He taught me the importance of family.
I'm extremely protective of the people I love, because of him. Growing up my little brother relied on me for a lot, whether he liked it or not. Watching out for him was an inherent part of who I was, it still is. But he also taught me that it's okay to lean on other people because I relied on him a lot too.
The older I got, the more I found myself defending him, trying to help others understand why he did some of the things he did. Maybe it's a sibling thing, or maybe it's all the years we spent harassing each other, but I've always been able to know what he means when he can't quite find the words.
I'm a good arguer. I know how to be patient. I'm good at resolving issues between myself and other people. Because those are all skills I had to develop to survive life growing up with him.
I wouldn't change my relationship with my little brother for anything in the world.
He's one of the best people I know. He is someone who may annoy me to no end but also inspires me every single day. The list of things I admire about him is just as long, if not longer, than the list of ways he annoys me. He thinks in ways no one else does, and he's a constant source of entertainment. He has street smarts I wish I had, and a perspective on life that few others can see. He's funny, creative, stubborn, and everything I'd ever want in a sibling.
I used to wonder why I had a little brother. Why I wasn't able to have the only-child life I thought I wanted. I know now, that the universe knew what it was doing all along. The universe knew I would need a constant pain-in-the-butt, in the form of a blue-eyed, blonde-haired psycho, to push me to be who I was meant to me. To show me all the things I needed to be to have the life I was meant to have. The universe brought my brother and me together in the same life, in the same family, because without him I'd be a very, very different human being.