Siblings are cool.
When you grow up the youngest of four this is the first thing you know to be indisputably true. My siblings kept me interesting. Each of them were good students and charming. Teachers loved them so teachers liked me without me having to try. I was always up to date on the latest episode of “grown up” T.V. shows, which gave me a conversation topic to discuss with the older kids at school (older meaning anyone born even one month earlier than you but managed to get into the higher grade, of course. Nothing is worse in elementary and middle school than being “little.” #LGs). They each liked different genres of music and the middle siblings (infamously) argued at length about which genre has more artistic integrity, so I’m well-versed in the different sides of that debate (which is still unsettled, in case you were wondering). My sisters’ hand-me-downs kept me in last year’s fashions, which was enough to pass for fashionable (that might be a strong word in this context) in middle school. My brother liked “boy things” (if you want to gender things) and I learned about them through proximity: Star Wars is corny yet very important, don’t fuck with someone’s lego sets (In other words, don’t smash a 13 year old’s 10+ already- built lego sets. He won’t get angry but he will be very, very, very sad), and Dutch- ovening yourself/ others is always funny (this holds up in adult world too).
As my siblings grew up they kept doing cool things. And I benefited from their good life choices. They all went to university. They all got adult jobs, doing adult-y things. Teaching, civil service, and engineering. My sisters both travelled and lived abroad. One sister introduced me to David Sedaris and attended his readings with me. She also gave us a rad, “lyrical genius” brother-in-law, Dabidu, then they gave us the best niece that ever lived, and then they let me live with them for a year and a half (#YoungestSisterPrivilege). My other sister lived peacefully with me in a tent for 35 days one summer and then moved 9500 kilometres to bravely pursue a career in China, impressively harnessing the energy of 30 six year olds who don’t speak the same language as her. Then she paid for me to visit her in her new home (#YoungestSisterPrivilege). My brother briefly quit his engineering job to catch up on the travelling he had watched all his friends do while he went from highschool, to university, to a career. But before he quit that job he helped me pay my rent on more than one occasion (#YoungestSisterPrivilege).
It’s probably worth mentioning that despite benefitting from my brother’s diligence and responsibility I have almost no idea what he does. Since I was in grade eight I have been saying “my brother is becoming/ is an engineer.” I could answer correctly when someone asked “what type of engineer?” “Mechanical,” I would say, and then hope they didn’t have anymore questions about engineering because what I knew about it is that he would… build things? Do long math equations? Wear a pinky ring? I knew he was grinding at school and seemed to have less fun-sounding courses than I ended up having, as well as better job prospects. He definitely didn’t sign up for such liberal arts-y courses as “Sex and Power in American History,” or “The History of the Beatles” (No regrets. I learned a lot about puritanical sex in the former, and a bit about music licensing in the latter). It wasn’t until my brother started working as an engineer that I realized how much I really didn’t know. “So how’s work?…Are you building?…like, a bbrrridge… orrrrrr??” I’m still not really sure what the answer to that question is. Does anyone really know what their family members do for work?
My siblings taught me by example that your 20s are equal parts chaotic, exciting, unstable, depressing and freeing. So whenever someone (jerks) asks me “oh, a history degree. What are you going to do with that?” I think, “well they figured it out so I probably will too.” I’m supposed to feel unstable and optimistically terrified, right? And this probably won’t go away once I exit my 20s, right? So even though I once lost my voice around the age of six from screaming at them and just generally being a terror, and even though my oldest sister turned us all into knuckle crackers because she held us down and force-cracked our knuckles, and even though I stole their clothes (including my brother’s boxers for some reason?), and even though one of them would bake cookies with her friend and then not let us eat any of them, and even though two of us spoiled Harry Potter endings for our sister (once by mistake and once on purpose), and even though Dabidu is obsessed with the mythical “queef-nado,” and even though they like freaky shit like water sports and skiing and I… like those things less (I fantasize about breaking a leg right before I might have to do one of those two things), I would HIGHLY recommend being born into a family with siblings. And if you can, try to be born last, because #YoungestSisterPrivilege.