All posts tagged: Siblings

Sister, Sister: I’m a Black Woman with a White Sister

Penny, right, with her sister, Amy. (Photo courtesy of Penny Wrenn) When people ask if I have brothers and sisters, I don’t know where to begin. Do I say, I’m an only child, the youngest of seven or the seventh of nine? In fact, all these answers are true. I’m my mother’s only child and the youngest of my father’s seven biological children. But if we’re talking the order in which my father’s children entered his life, then I’m not the last. When my parents divorced, my father remarried and I inherited two step-siblings. Still, however I go about answering the “Do you have brothers and sisters?” question, I always get to this part: I am a black woman with a white sister. Her name is Amy. People would come to my old Harlem apartment see her photo on my bookshelf, the one where I’m standing next to her on her wedding day, and they’d ask, “Who’s that?” But I would never just say, “My sister.” I knew that I must follow up with an …

Cockney to Canadian: The Perils of a New Patois

(Graphic by Helen Jane Hearn/ TueNight.com) Some epiphanies hit you gently, and some are starkly exposed, like the time a drunk girl on the bus shouted that my eyebrows were “so on fleek” and I had to quickly text my sister for a definition. Did it mean that my eyebrows were so offensive due to my overplucking? Or so on point? (Which, in fact, is what it does mean.) But in asking my Gen Y sister what this word meant, I realized what a relic I had already become. It didn’t help that the moment was memorialized when she Instagrammed it with the hashtags #YouOldAsHell and #Duffer. It wasn’t always like this — I had prided myself on my unusual accent and slang when I moved from London to Vancouver. I was popular for that fleeting first week where new kids are novelties, especially ones with a built in repertoire of British words. I was asked to say “rubbish” almost eleven times at recess while my new friends copied my pronunciation like a wobbly Gwyneth …

Siblings at Odds: He’s an Evangelical Preacher, I’m an Atheist

Sara with older brother. (Photo courtesy of Sara Gilliam) Is he a good person? Yes. Am I a good person? I try to be. Do I love him? Yes. Do I like him? What, like all the time? It’s complicated. This is us, 38 years ago. Look at those smiles. They aren’t forced. There’s love there, connection. We were born six years apart, too far to be peers or really even friends. This photo may have been snapped during our happiest time as siblings. Once I started talking, I became annoying. I’d belt out the Annie Soundtrack at the top of my lungs and he’d grit his teeth, knowing complaints wouldn’t get him anywhere. I would rat him out for the tiniest indiscretions. He’d kick me in the back seat of our VW Vanagon camper then smile innocently and shrug when my dad met his eyes in the rearview mirror. We were essentially two only children living in the same household. One handsome, athletic and wildly popular. The other chubby, musical and an abysmal social …

The Walker Kids Are All Right

Left: Meredith with her family. Right: Meredith in the middle of her older sister and younger brother. (Photo courtesy of Meredith Walker) We, the Walkers, are a tough crowd. Thanks to our loving and clever parents, we saw This is Spinal Tap in the theatre, which was pretty cutting edge at the time. We grew up memorizing lines from Raising Arizona and, when the Sunday comics were passed around, we knew why Doonesbury and Bloom County were funny. We made fun of each other like seasoned stand-up comedians, going for the laugh even if it was a little too sharp. When my sister Megan walked in after a particularly pixie-esque haircut, my brother Christopher looked at her and said: “Don’t ever do that again.” It was easy to get along for the most part because the three of us are close in age. My sister and I are 17 months apart, and my brother and I are 20 months apart. Megan is a Type-A firstborn; anything she does is done well, done to perfection. Trust …

When Number Two is Number One: My Big Little Brother

(Photo courtesy of Erin Donovan) Never forget. This is what we’re told about September 11th. Most of us couldn’t forget if we tried. The images of twisted steel and even more twisted faces have grabbed our memories with a grip that will not ease. What we remember differs from person to person depending on how close each stood to the epicenter. My dearest friend on the East Coast, who was working in the adjacent building, keeps the memories the media cannot convey — the moans of breaking metal, the smells of a city ablaze, the breath of a stricken populace racing by. My dearest friend on the West Coast remembers only that her local coffee shop didn’t open that morning. I, protected by the tall walls of a Missouri college that fateful day, have a dimming recollection of cancelled classes and a candlelight vigil on that particular 9/11, but September 11th has always been a day of seismic change for me. Because my brother was born that day. Shaun was the second and final child …

Margit’s Note: The Language of Siblings

There we are: a trio of Detweiler kids, rolling around in the back of a Ford Country Squire, seatbelt-free, chanting nonsense-filled songs we’d make up on the fly: “Apple tree, apple pee!” Potty talk makes everything better. We pinch, kick, cry shriek with laughter until one exasperated parent yells, “Stop your blather.” Which makes us laugh even harder. BLATHER?? We repeat in a fancy pants voice,  “BLAAAATHER?” Stifling our hysterics is impossible. Hopefully this doesn’t result in the car being stopped. Because after all, I’m the oldest, and the one perennially, “in charge.” *** I read somewhere that when you have one cat, the cat bonds with its owner, but with two cats, the cats bond with each other —the impact siblings have is something like that.  My sister, brother and I speak a language we share with no one else — words and memories to make us gasp with laughter, innocuous-seeming phrases that will turn us red with anger.  No one else can get under your skin quite like a sibling. One of 1,000 examples: I used to joke …

TueNight Labels Kathleen Warner

When Being “The Good One” Isn’t So Great

The good one. The smart one. The athlete. The artist. The drama queen. The baby. The rebel. The sensitive one. The brat. The loudmouth. The playwright. Being the eldest of five children, with only eight years between me and my youngest brother, my beleaguered and exhausted parents often used shortcuts to keep us all straight. As the “good” and “smart” one, I had it easy, at least for a while. I was diligent and studious, I got good grades and my teachers sang my praises. What could be bad about that? Seemingly nothing, when operating in the outside world of teachers, other adults and the like. The hardest part was to re-write the narrative of who I was based on what I had internalized from other people’s expectations. But within my family, my sibling relationships suffered, particularly with my brothers. I was only one year apart from one of my brothers and, as little kids, we were inseparable. He was creative and smart, played soccer and the guitar, and had a broad and sophisticated taste …