Just to clarify, I love my brother. Even though we are quite different in personality and manner, I could not ask for a better brother (or for a better uncle for my son, for that matter), and I know that he would do anything for me (as I would for him).
When that being said… It was not always so easy growing up with a big brother and sometime during our childhood it was a matter of survival (metaphorically speaking, of course…).
The Monopoly Challenge
I have, to put it mildly, an overdeveloped competitive instinct and all games growing up were a fight for life and death (at least it felt that way). I especially have a tense relationship with Monopoly due games with my brother in early childhood. He would hide away money, pretend he was loosing and hence lulling me into believing i was winning, before he would go for the kill and ask me if I needed to borrow some money… I clicked of course, and more often than not, our game ended in a fight (I did have some anger issues back then..).
The Skiing Challenge
We used to do a lot of cross-country skiing back then and every ski trip was of course a competition. My sore spot was that I could throw a tantrum and my brother’s strategy was of course to get me pissed, something he often achieved. If I was in the lead, he used to walk on top of my skis (very annoying) and use his ski pole to make snow fall off the tree branches over my head and onto me and my neck. The goal was of course to make me click so that I would stop and attack him (something I often did) and then push me to the side and retake the lead (he is after all a couple of years older than me and was quite capable of doing that). This strategy of his worked more often than I would like to admit, since I at the time had no sense of strategic thinking or the ability to learn from my mistakes.
The Joke Challenge
We grew up in a house without modern utilities like dishwasher, microwave oven or even a functional kitchen. We were, however, early adopters of our own video camera, since our father was quite the film buff. One afternoon he asked my brother and me + a friend of mine to tell jokes to the camera. My brother then asked me which joke I was to tell, something I didn’t want to relieve. He kept on pestering me, however, until I caved and told him. When we started with the jokes, he was the first joker out and he….told MY joke!! Guess what happened.. Or, you actually don’t have to guess since it’s all on tape (link). I promise, it is well worth a look.
Then fast forward to my first day at high-school. New, big school and the feeling of beeing very small. Already before the first class, some older students I had never seen in my life (including some very fine masculin specimen) came over and asked if I was the sister of my brother. When I confirmed, they told me they had watched videos of me and my brother for an entire vorspiel the weekend before, so lucky me… Not exactly the start I was hoping for at high school, since I was not exactly an attention seeker at that time (that came way later…)
The Air Challenge
Already at a young age I was very into books and could spend hours and hours reading. My brother was not much of a reader and when he was bored, he would go out of his way to disturb me from reading. He would then place his hands between me and my book while chanting “the air is for everyone..” over and over again. Did I mentioned I had anger issues back then?
The End-Of-The-Table Challenge
OK, when you read this paragraph you will think this is a story from the previous century, but the fact is that we use to have a grandmother with some old-fashion way of thinking. We grew up in a home with more or less gender equality and with no gender bias. Grandmother, however, was another story and my brother knew how to use this to his advantage. For instance, if I had taken the place at the end of the table for breakfast, he would order me away from it. When I (of course) told him to sod off, he would tell our grandmother who in turn will ask me to move, since “in our family, the end of the table is reserved for the man of the house”. Not exactly a message that was well received by me, especially not with my brother grinning in the background.
Up until this point I have only told you about the competitive relationship between my brother and me. I will emphasize, however, that most of my childhood memories are of a warm and good nature. For instance, he often took the blame after a fight, no matter who started it. One time, when he had locked me out and I, in a furious rage, threw my fist through the glass of the door, breaking it and making blood gush all over the place, he instantly called my mother and started the conversation to claim responsibility for the incident. He as also worked as my protector throughout my whole childhood, scaring away anyone wanting to harm me. The protector behavior lasted also through my high-school years, all though not quite as much appreciated at that time since he had a few good looking friends he threatened to beat up if they tried to make a move on me.