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How To Train Your Younger Sibling: Five Lessons for Older Middle Children.

Updated on May 29, 2015

How to train them badly.

Oh Great: A New Brother!

How to Train Your Younger Sibling: Five Lessons for Older Middle Children: by Pearldiver; is a look at the dilemmas faced by having brothers and sisters and how some deal with this something that we usually don’t have a lot of say in. Most parents wouldn’t generally listen or take your point of view seriously anyway! My own parents just completely ignored my older sister’s and my advice on the merits of not producing a younger sibling. At the age of three it happened; a new one arrived. Just great; all the attention has just disappeared; everyone’s fussing over this continuously squawking, new bird in the nest.

It was a boy; like me, which means I’m going to have to share everything with him: My toys, My time, MY room! Why wasn’t he a she? He looks just like my sister; pale skin, red hair and freckles. I’m blond, blue eyes, tan skin and no freckles on me. If he thinks I’m going to play with dolls, he’s got another thing coming! I bet they will expect me to entertain him as well.

Sure enough, in time I got lumbered with this one and now I’m the babysitter! Ha, I’ve got an advantage over this clingy little shadow; I can walk and all he can do is slither. When will he talk, I wonder? Ha, he can’t follow me when I climb over the fence and disappear across the paddocks to freedom. Well if I’m going to have put up with this brother every day; I’m going to train him!

Let me tell you a story... about what happened to a duckling.

Lesson One: Pecking Order.

The first lesson on the agenda is all about the pecking order in his life. "Right mate you are going to learn the most important survival rules in your life." He seems to understand; he is just staring at me and smiling. “Okay, this is how it is mister; you always listen to me, what I say is what you act on. Never question me or my reasons, when I give you an order or advice. Your sister doesn’t count; she is a spy and will always try to get us into trouble, so ignore her in your world; I am the most important person you know; ahead of mum and dad. Oh yeah, sometimes when you do things right you get a pat on the head and sometimes you get your butt kicked!”

He talks now; well kind of talks. His first words were to me. He called me Goggy. “Goggy, goggy.” He isn’t normal; maybe it’s all those freckles; you can see where the flies have been. I will help him by washing them off. A flannel and a lot of laundry soap; that’s the answer. Rub and rub; keep still mate, I’ll soon have this fly pooh off your face, rub and rub, but hey I can’t budge it, but at least your face isn’t pale anymore; now it’s red! “Goggy, goggy, goggy….. Whaaaaaaa.” “Shut up will ya? Just shut up or mum will hear you!”

“What have you done to your brother? Look at his face!” “Goggy, goggy…. WhaaaaaaGoggy.” “What is he saying?” she asked. “Um, he just keeps crying when I try to stop him from rubbing his face with the soapy flannel!” “Goggy, goggy goo-baa ergoggy.” “What on earth is he saying?” “He said he likes eating the soap and he said it's your fault that he's got so many freckles!” "What? What is wrong with this boy?" Ha, she doesn’t understand a word he’s saying: Um.. Cool.

Why Not Dress to Depress?

POLL on Competing Siblings.

Did you compete with your siblings at all?

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Lesson Two: Clothes Sense.

As time passed it became obvious that my younger brother was indeed strange! He had invented his own language and dragged me into his strangeness; in that I actually understood what he was saying. I couldn’t speak his language, just understand it and for that reason I became the interpreter and the master of his fate. I would be the first to admit that I wasn’t always able to quote him verbatim when asked to relay his vocal outbursts; but that was where the fun came into it. Everyone that asked me what he was talking about; got an answer that suited the situation and often brought cookies for my efforts and sometimes, a good old butt kicking for a bewildered sibling. Besides, it was far better that I rewarded him with cookies; not someone who could potentially undermine or change his allegiance to his protector and courageous mentor.

Oh no, not only did our mother make me give up my room to share it with my brother, but she also made a point of buying us matching clothes. Was I also expected to make him look good too? As far as the birds and I was concerned I did not appreciate having to look the same as my brother. So I had to change the dynamics and I could do that if I taught him dress sense. Things like how do his top shirt button up, put his shorts on back the front, and wear his undies inside out. He listened all the time; especially when I told him that no matter what, always wear his clothes this way. “If they change the way you wear your clothes, then change back again and always do it your way.” Sure there were times where in an effort to avoid potential punishment; he protested that Goggy made him do it, but they didn’t know what he was saying. They hadn’t even worked out that this cuckoo had a serious speech impediment; to them,he was just a slow learner.

For most of our early years, we didn’t even wear shoes; I don’t think we even owned any. We needed bare feet to grip the narrow sheep tracks that meandered around the 200 foot sheer cliffs of our island home. Besides, shoes would have been no good on cold mornings when we followed the winter ritual of squishing warm cow pats, while we picked mushrooms. When we finally got shoes, they didn’t fit anyway because after so long barefoot, our feet were pretty wide. I remember keeping the shoe boxes and convincing my brother that they were better than shoes. He put his feet into the shoe boxes and using belts; tied them in so the shoe boxes acted as shoes. Yep, he wore the boxes until they wore out and everyone just shok or scratched their heads over this strange boy. It would be far to say in looking back, that whenever he entered the room wearing shoe boxes on his feet, he looked like the village idiot, but he didn't care. He had developed a strong minded approach to his habits and unique personality.

No!!! We Don't Do That With....

We Act and Walk This Way...

Lesson Three: Learning Manners and Etiquette.

Eventually he was able to sit at the dinner table with the rest of us; as he had learned not to put his face in the food. On the day, our parents decided that this would be the perfect time to teach him manners and dining etiquette. What a fiasco; an absolute waste of time; I had already taught him! They tried to get him to hold his knife in his right hand and fork in the left, but I had already taught him to take a left handed approach to things. For a whole hour they tried to get him to say “Thank you,” but that was never going to happen because he just wouldn’t listen to them; he offered his own words for thank you which they refused to accept as perhaps they were in denial of his obvious impediment.

After we moved to the city, we had fixed chores to do and we got pocket money that was deducted from, if we were assessed as being lazy, naughty or disobedient. On Sundays we went to Church Sunday School and each had a small coin to contribute to the collection plate. My brother wasn't so dumb after all as he demonstrated to me one day after Church Sunday School. On the way home he wanted to stop at the shop and we did, only to find that he had a great deal of money with him to buy lollies and a coke. "How come," I asked. He told me that he really liked Sunday School becuse when they passed the collection plate to him to pass on, he put has small coin in and took several large coins out! Needless to say, he never missed church and always believed God had provided him with a stash of goodies.

Another contentious issue was that of his persistence in leaving the toilet seat up. No matter what, no one could convince him to put the seat down. Did I have any influence on that? Absolutely and in mitigation I contend that without such input, my younger sibling would not have developed and honed his unique sense of individuality.

Lesson Four: Playing Sport.

When we had lived on the island, each year the sheep multiplied and that meant we had lambs to mark and dock. This was our first introduction to ‘contact’ sport; the stuff that created heartland rugby and All Blacks greats. It involved running hard, side stepping and tackling the quick and elusive jumpers; hang on to them tight and make sure that you don’t get kicked in the face by their sharp hooves.

Marking the lambs was merely chalk staining their hind quarters with a colored mark denoting the lamb’s sex. A few weeks later, we did it all again but this time we had to apply rubber docking rings on their tails, so that after a few weeks their tails fell off. My brother wasn’t a tackler; we used him as a freckled obstacle that scared the lambs into a penned off area in the paddock.

Next season he was allowed to practice what he had learnt from his big brother. He turned into a really good lamb tackler. Forever the teacher, I told him that when he was old enough to play rugby, he would be a great player as long as he tackled everyone on the other side. A few years later, he was picked for the school rugby team. I got to watch him play his first game; with just bare feet and no boots, he showed the coach that he planned to be an All Black; by tackling everyone in the other team even though they didn’t have the ball.

Learning to learn.

Lesson Five: Girl Friends.

As his freckles started to disappear on entering adolescence, my brother started showing an interest in girls. By now he had spent a lot of time with a speech therapist who had miraculously trained him to communicate beyond grunts and Goggy language.

So now he wants advice from me on girls; okay let’s find out if you are as gullible as you used to be brother. Yep I told him what I knew, but I couldn’t resist the explanation of how important the first kiss is! I told him that most girls knew how much they liked a guy, by how well he kissed them and that they rate the kiss by how much the guy licked their face during the event.

Several weeks later my brother told me that he had been slapped in the face by a girl. When I asked him to tell me what had happened, he told me that things had been going really well until; she tried to kiss him and all he could do was to lick her all over her face! Slap. “So…. What did you do then?" I asked him. He told me that he was really embarrassed and walked away in case she slapped him again. “Oh no don’t ever do that mate. Slapping you is part of the game. You have to laugh and tell her that this is how the big guys do it! Don’t give up mate; they are all the same. If you do that to the next girl and she slaps you; it’s because she wants you to be her boyfriend!”

You know.. I've never trusted anyone in those Clown Shoes!

Thanks for reading this. If you enjoyed it then please rate it below.  Pearldiver.
Thanks for reading this. If you enjoyed it then please rate it below. Pearldiver.

I feel lucky to have a brother.

I hope the Five Lessons here have helped you condition the bond that can be created between a middle child and a younger sibling. When both parties appreciate the respective roles within the relationship; lifelong memories are developed. It doesn't need to be the type of relationship that spawns nightmares or insecurities. If the pecking order is established early in the peace; then the younger sibling will always know that they have to get up early, if they want to out-perform their older sibling.

As you can see, training your younger sibling can be a lot of fun. But a word of warning needs to be added here. If you follow the guidelines above, then expect similar favors to be returned to you. I say that from experience and from the fact that waking up from a sound sleep with a mouth full of live moths, is not a good way to wake. Yep, as they say; it's made round to go round and therefore expect to be paid back threefold for having provided such good advice.

On the upside in my case, I feel that the information that was given to my younger brother did help him later in life. Even though his dress sense remained incredibly bad; he was lucky enough to tackle a girl who clearly showed him how to lick his way through a relationship that produced two fine sons. The circle of life does not always repeat itself, but often comes very close. My brother's sons when young were very much like Goggy and the younger sibling. The younger of the two had blond hair, blue eyes and clear tanned skin. His older brother had pale skin, freckles and the same reddish hair that his father had at the same age. No middle child, only two siblings, both of whom dote on their dad and made great nephews for their uncle Goggy.

Being able to laugh at ourselves and appreciate a good practical played well on us, ensures that humor remains with us throughout life. But there is no way that I'm walking anywhere with my sibling while he wears Clown Shoes! They just fit so well!

I used to wonder why my younger brother grew through his hair early in his life and I did not suffer the same fate. After considering all the the lessons that he took into his stride while growing up; I am satisfied that I now know why! It is a pity that as an adult, he always throws away his new shoes and finds the boxes more comfortable though.

© Copyright 2009 - 2015 Art of the Diver with all rights reserved.


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