Memories of Being One of the Guys
Me and My Brothers
The Girl in the Middle
I was raised a tomboy for pretty much my entire life. I wasn't the only girl but I was the middle girl, surrounded by brothers. I have three older sisters who are five years, almost eight years, and almost nine years older than me. I have one younger sister who is a little more than 10 years younger than me. And there in the middle are me and the boys.
My older brother, Butch, was about two and a half when I was born. I was just a little over two when my younger brother, Mike, was born. Mike was about two and a half when Pat was born. We were 'stairstep siblings,' shown here on the stairs when Pat was three years old. That would make Mike about five and a half, me about seven and a half and Butch about 10.
I never knew a life without brothers and for that I feel blessed. I learned a lot of neat stuff from brothers, not all of it good but most of it useful. Everybody should know how to ride a bike at full speed downhill with no hands, how to climb a tree so high up and you can barely see the ground, and how to build a fort in the woods. Would I have learned those things from sisters? Probably not but who knows.
The four of us weren't always together but there were usually at least two or three of us wherever there was one. For a long time before Pat was born and when he was too young to run with us, it was Butch, me, and Mike. We got into our share of trouble but most kids do, especially in big families.
As Butch got older and outgrew the rest of us, Pat became one of the Three Musketeers. I wasn't always nice to my youngest brother and picked on him a lot. Although I've since apologized to him, the Mom in me really regrets that I was so mean to Pat. Much of our time together was spent outdoors, probably because we were too noisy inside.
Although we often played with other kids, it really wasn't necessary to have other kids along because we made our own fun. Life was simpler back in those days. Cartoons only came on Saturday mornings but outdoors was there all of the time. The world was our playground and we were kings and queen of our neighborhood, or so it seemed.
In the summertime, we pretty much lived at the pool, walking there as soon as the temperature was warm enough. The rest of the time, we were on our bikes, in the backyard, or in the woods. Tetherball in the yard, baseball in the vacant lot, and street football were the sports we played. Ghosts in the Graveyard was our summertime game after dark when the shadows and ghosts were out in the neighborhood.
We swung high up in the swings before jumping as far as we could to the ground. It felt like we were flying and we never seemed to tire of the game. We trampled through the woods, damming up the creek behind one house where we lived and we tossed ropes up into trees to get way up when there weren't low branches to climb.
In one house, we played under the porch. Looking at the porch there years later, I have no idea how we got down there or what we did while we were there. My older brother wasn't always a good example for me nor was I always a good example for my younger brothers. But we all turned out mostly okay anyway.
We teased and we picked, we pushed and we shoved, we fought and we bickered, and we tried to outdo one another in most everything we did. We were the Kennedys without money! Our parents had strong expectations for all of us and we mostly tried to live up to them; however, some of us didn't do as well in that category as others.
We got into trouble with regularity for various things, some small and some big. Leaving our bikes out in the yard, breaking a light in the dining room and lying about it, tearing down Christmas lights and smashing them in the ground. Ask any of us why we did any of those things and the answer would be the same: "I don't know," the words that make parents go temporarily insane.
We snuck into places we didn't belong, snooped into things that weren't ours, and made mischief of one kind and another sort of like Max in "Where the Wild Things Are." We only talked back under our breath, our bravado not to be shared with our parents. We challenged each other to do more, be more, know more. The old Keds commercial about running faster and jumping higher: that was us.
I don't know what I'd be like if I'd not been raised in the middle of the boys, just one of the guys. To this day, I'm generally more comfortable around guys than around girls. I'm the one who kids and jokes and always has a smart aleck comment to make. That's who I am and I guess that's who I'll be, the girl who was always a part of the brothers three.