Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Being the only girl rocked...and not just because of the no sharing clothes bit...

I was talking to some guy friends today about having brothers and siblings, in general. It started with me asking them for Christmas gift advice but that spiraled downward very quickly. But as we continued talking, the conversation morphed into how having a sibling of the opposite gender gave you perspective, taught you life lessons, etc. I don’t often think about the what if, it’s a waste of time and energy. I like the here, the now, and the what will be, not could or should, but will. I’m practical that way (and maybe stubborn). And so I took a thought trail that is uncharacteristic of me. I started to think what if I didn’t spend my childhood outnumbered by boys? What lessons would I have missed? What would I not know? The answer is: quite. a. lot.

1. I wouldn’t have my fine appreciation of all things comic book and superhero related. And don’t laugh number one off as not serious. This IS serious. Growing up it was my two brothers, my cousin Eric, who lived next door, and my cousin David, who lived downstairs…and then me. I don’t know if you remember how childhood works, but basically it boils down to this: what the majority wants, the majority gets. Now, I don’t really know if I ever had a desire to watch My Little Pony, I just know I never watched it. Same for Strawberry Shortcake and all that nonsense. I did watch some Care Bears, but so did my brothers, so I don’t have a barometer for how girly Care Bears are. Cartoon time was sacred and you watched the important things only. In our house, the important things were Batman’s Adventures, Superman, Spiderman, James Bond, Jr. X-Men (this was my favorite), Captain Planet, Power Rangers (original season, that’s right), and a host more. As a result, I can talk to you all about Bruce Wayne’s tortured psyche, the properties of adamantium, and how weird the kid who had the “Heart” ring was (you know you thought so too) with surprising expertise. I’m a big fan of the first and second X-men movies (the third had a plot that both the comics and the cartoon would have laughed at), I love Batman movies (except Batman Forever, that was regrettable), and my love for James Bond, Jr. has been replaced with a strong love for James Bond. Now let’s talk about My Little Pony. To be honest, I don’t even know what it’s about, why the show title is in the first person, or why the horses have Technicolor manes, but I know this: watching My Little Pony would have been a childhood experience only. I couldn’t have continued that love in any kind of adult, or public, way for the rest of my life. And I doubt My Little Pony taught the poignant life lessons we find in Batman, for example. Batman teaches us that even when someone is a bad person or has done bad things, killing him, while easy, is not the answer. X-Men is a lesson in being different. Celebrate your differences, embrace them, they’ll make you stronger. Captain Planet showed us that Mother Nature is not to be trifled with lest she come back and end you. So not only did the boys give me a lifelong love…I learned life lessons that Strawberry Shortcake and her freckles don’t know anything about.

2. They’re listening on some level, even if it doesn’t look like they are. For girls, listening is an active thing. Eye contact, head nodding, thoughtful questions. It’s work. I know my friends get annoyed because I’ll be doing three things while they’re talking to me. It’s called multitasking, people! Sorry, got sidetracked. Back to the point, my brothers remember random things. Sure, it’s mostly stuff they glom onto because they know it will annoy me in the future, but that’s beside the point. The point is that the ability to listen and recall are there. This is helpful when dealing with boys now, romantically or otherwise.

“You know I don’t listen!”

“You know I don’t remember that stuff!”

Excuses. Don’t take it. Don’t accept it. Boys try to play dumb and live up to the stereotype society hypes up. I am ON TO YOU, males. No go.

3. I learned how to argue with winning as the goal. Everyone argues. It’s human nature. One person thinks they are more right than another and feels passionately enough to argue. No problem. It happens. But few people treat arguing as an art form. I do. If I don’t see a clear win is possible, it has to be a damn fun argument to keep me in it. You know who can’t recognize when they’ve been beat in an argument? Girls. They repeat themselves over and over again. They don’t adapt their arguments to respond to your rebuttals. They invariably end the conversation with something wimpy like, “I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree,” before they send themselves into pout mode. It drives me crazy. Recognize that you’ve been beaten, that your skills were not up to par, and move on with your life. It doesn’t mean that you agree with me, it just means that you couldn’t articulate yourself clearly or persuasively enough to be declared the victor in this situation. Guys get this. Granted, they don’t like to lose, so pout mode might still happen, but usually they can recognize when they’ve lost the fight. So I avoid arguments with girls. Girls get mean, personal, and then they cry. I HATE IT when they start to CRY. Lose with some dignity!

4. How to pick a battle. You know what's not worth fighting about? The toilet seat. Put it down. They have to pick it up, so put it down. Don't fight about it. It's not a political statement. It's a piece of a toilet. Fight about real things. When they're important. If you complain, pick fights, or whine too much, you will be written off as a hysterical woman. It's not a pretty reality, but it's true. You can complain about that too, but I've already explained what will probably happen.

5. Keeping secrets is your life when you have two nosy little brothers. It’s not even that I did super secret or super interesting things. But brothers will pry and pry until they can get something they can use against you. Diaries and journals? That’s for suckers. Sex tapes? Incriminating photos? Not a chance. No matter how well you hide something, how much you trust the person you told, it WILL get out. Just stay quiet. Keep the secret. Don’t create evidence by documenting it for Pete's sake. It won’t kill you to keep your mouth shut; in fact, your life will be less stressful.

6. The difference between a semi-automatic and automatic firearm. I don’t have anymore to say here, it’s just one of the things I learned.

7. How to punch someone. Follow through. Power it with your body, not your arm. Plant your feet. And for goodness' sake, don't tuck your thumb into your fist or place it across your fingers. Save yourself a broken thumb.

What did you learn from your siblings?

1 comment:

Jmarls80 said...

I love this post. I wish I watched 'My Little Pony' so I could test my arguing skills against yours about its merit. Alas...

I learned a lot from my brother, about being agreeable, quiet, and good (things he was NOT)- and as I get older, I learn that maybe those things aren't me at all. Then my life falls apart and I learn from my brother about patience and humility (things he has that I...don't). It's a cycle of learning. He still smells like sweat socks though.