I grew up as one of three siblings. I am the oldest and the only girl. I have two younger brothers. They’re 2 and 9 years younger than me. Being 7 years apart didn’t mean they avoided having any issues. They fought very much when we were growing up. No matter how many times our folks told the older brother that it’s never okay to hit his younger brother, he always found a loophole. Pulling his hair, wrestling, slapping him…you name it. He did it. The biggest fights they got into were when he wouldn’t let him play with his stuff. Being the eldest and me being the only girl, I was the one taking care of my brothers. Growing up, they were lousy careless little boys and it became my duty to care for them. It was a duty that I wasn’t compelled to do but that came naturally to me.
As the oldest child I was blamed for everything that my younger brother did, until the youngest was born and was blamed for everything till when he was able to talk.
I remember the day he was born. I was so excited that I could barely concentrate in class that day. When we got home, tiny baby clothes filled the clothesline. I held him in my arms, his gummy eyes closed. He was impossibly perfect. He was beautiful. I liked to watch him sleep soundly, all snuggled in his bed.
The little boy has been my favorite sibling for a long time. I helped feed and entertain him. I babysat till my mom came home from work (the babysitting served as an excuse not to take afternoon naps). I watched him take his first steps. I carried him on my back, to sleep him off. I carried him till he was 4 years old and couldn’t carry him anymore. He looked at me as a mom, a caretaker, and I didn’t mind a bit. I loved it. I’ve watched him outgrow me and today I look like his little sister.
When he got into highschool, he grew surprisingly tall. I thought he would grow up to be a short man. Grandma always said that he would be tall. And here he is. Tall and handsome, with a deep voice. Every time he comes for holidays, he’s grown taller. Greeting him, I place my hand in his and my ka hand disappears in his. He holds my hand like I’m a young girl. Like I’m Ivan. It’s like someone is pulling him up, from the sky. Hehe. Now I feel like a kid, looking up at him every time I’ve something to say.
I remember that whenever we stepped out of line, the ass-whooping was done (it’s just the way African parents discipline their children). Mom was very strict and was the one who delivered the whippings. It’s not a negative thing, unless you injure the child. And Mom never got to that point. If it was a minor issue, she would give us that look and we knew that we’d crossed the line. That look still scares me today.
But, apart from all the whipping and scolding, the love is tremendous. We weren’t very chatty with our folks but we felt the love. They love us and we know it even though they never say it. The truth lies hidden in little details, they just show it. They are more than willing to make countless sacrifices just to make us comfortable and to make us achieve much more than they did.
However, I must say that I hated my mother on some occassions. Like when she would wake us early on Saturday morning to help with housekeeping chores. What I hated the most was dusting the windows and furniture. When it comes to housekeeping chores, what is more annoying than dust? Dust is everywhere! It seems to enter from fissures and cracks and then settles out on almost everything in sight. A few days without dusting are enough for one to be able to observe fine dust deposited everywhere, especially on dark furniture. I would be cursing till the end! Then after completing our chores, we bathed and they smeared us with Vaseline from head to toe, leaving us shining like diamonds. Hehe.
I’m not a girlie girl by nature, neither am I a tomboy. I’m not sure if it’s my own innate personality. I hated wearing dresses, but mom always bought me dresses. And the clothes she bought for us would be large so we didn’t bug her every often (tukayikuriramo! Hehe). I wanted to be allowed to wear jeans and t-shirts like my brothers. But no matter how much I begged and pleaded, my mom would squeeze me into a dress, always. I’m starting to like dresses now, though I still find them uncomfortable.
Even though I’m the eldest of all but I get to be the princess every day, because there is no one to compete with for that position. Sorry, boys! Hehe. I wouldn’t change a second of how I grew up because I love my spot as the only girl. I was spoiled and protected and still feel that way today. I don’t really feel like I missed out on anything by not having a sister. Personally, I think that anyone that does have sister(s), seem like they have more drama in their lives. Hehe. I don’t really understand sister relationships, I guess. And I don’t think I’d really enjoy sharing the girl spotlight or sharing my special place in my daddy’s heart with another girl. Besides, having a sister would mean sharing my stuff which I’m not yet ready to do! Hehe. Anyways, I have my very close girlfriends who are more like sisters to me. So it balanced out.
Now that we’ve grown up (and don’t risk being whipped any more) we tell our folks the stories and we all laugh.
When I reflect on my childhood, I have to say it was fun.