Sunday, 3 May 2015

There You'll Be

It has happened! We have our very own, brand new princess, and she's beautiful. The country has fallen in love already. 

And I have read and heard some relatively ridiculous things.

"They'll be thinking of a name. They claim that they didn't know the sex of the baby, but like any other couple I'm sure they'll have had a few options for either eventuality." 

Yes, because they're human. 

"Prince William has said he's very happy." 

I'd say he is, yes. 

There's one person- however, that hasn't really been mentioned. Yes, he did appear for a minute, yes they commented on the fact that his wave is just like his great grandmother's (ridiculous), and yes, he is adorable. 

But nobody seems to have registered how huge this is for Prince George. This gorgeous little girl is going to be the Harry to his William. His partner in crime. His best friend. 

And all anyone can talk about is how his wave outside the hospital had impeccable timing. 

I spoke to my mum about how casually siblings- the most important people in your life- are introduced to you. When somebody announces that they're having a second child, people do tend to ask how the eldest is feeling about it. 

Chances are if they're under the age of six, they don't really understand.

But it's going to affect them more than anyone. The lives of the parents have already been overhauled by baby number one, it's the lives of the siblings that you're turning upside down by having another. Their personalities, family relationships, and the way that their lives play out are about to totally change because of this baby. 

Last month my baby brother Chip turned twenty one. 

(NB. His alias is Chip because he will always be the youngest and cutest, just like the cup from Beauty and the Beast. Not because he resembles a chipmunk in any way.)

A couple of days before the party I collected together photos from his life and put them onto a USB stick to be projected onto the wall of the bar. 

Throughout the evening, at least ten people came over and commented on them to me.

"Rebecca the photos are wonderful, you've done a great job." 

"Jesus Christ Rebecca, did you need to put up that picture of me from 1999? What was I thinking with that hair?!" 

What I wanted to know was: how did they know it was me?

I asked my dad, who told me that everyone knew that he wouldn't have been able to put that together. And neither would my mum. And Mowgli- our other brother- wouldn't have known where to find the photos. 

Which left me. 

And that got me thinking.

Imagine if Chip was an only child? 

Would he just not have had little touches like the  photos on the wall? Like the video of his life I made him when he turned eighteen? Who would have stood up for him when he was being oh so wronged by our parents? Who would have squeezed his arm at funerals and laughed with him during the hymn part of weddings? Who would have brought him a pint of water and a loaf of bread when he had had one too many bacardi breezers? And then told our grandparents that he had a tummy bug when  he spent the entirety of the next day throwing up? 

I know that I've mentioned in a few posts that my brothers are the best people in the entire world. So I have always been vaguely aware of how lucky I am. But this was the first time I had really thought about how much siblings affect your life. 

I asked a few people for their thoughts. 

It was a mixed response, really. 

One of my friends- a youngest child with a big age gap- said that she didn't think her life would be different at all.

Another- also the youngest but with only an eighteen month age gap- said that his childhood would have been different but his current life would be exactly the same.

Dale insisted that his life would be no different but I know him well enough to know that his sisters and his niece and nephew mean the entire world to him, and that he would be a totally different person with a totally different day to day life if he didn't have them around. 

Mowgli's girlfriend told me she would have spent her whole life bored without her sister. 

My mum said that without her big brother she would have had nobody to idolise growing up. 

I asked Pumbaa who, as always, provided an excellent answer. 

"I feel the same about my sister as I do about men." 


"Can't live with her, can't live without her." 

Succinct as always. 

I asked Minnie Mouse, whose sister wasn't born until she was nineteen. 

She pointed out that her cousin is like a sister to her. She can't imagine life without her cousin- but if she had had siblings from a younger age she probably wouldn't have had that same close relationship with her cousin. 

Then I asked Chip. 

Who said it was just too big a question to answer. 

He's very wise, my baby brother. 

He pointed out that the three of us: me, Mowgli, and Chip, have all got our personalities from our place in the family. He's right. I am definitely the eldest child, and anybody who meets me, oblivious to the fact that my brothers even exist, would be able to guess that quite easily. 

Mowgli is quiet but sociable. The only time he speaks is to say something hilarious. He's so easy going he's practically horizontal. He cares very much about fairness- if he was the last person to make a cup of tea, he will definitely not be making the next one until everybody else has had a turn. He is flexible, and quite happy to just be. When I asked him his thoughts on being an only child he said "I would be loved by my parents. I would be the favourite child. I'd probably be just as good looking." He's a middle child. 

Chip is a risk taker. He's outgoing, confident, creative, unorganised, messy and easily bored. He thinks quite deeply and is interested in everything. He's the youngest.

If all three of us didn't exist, then whoever was left would be a totally different person. 

Would that person have been a mix of all three of us? A perfect combination of my parents? 

 I thought about some of the 'only' children I know. 

They do tend to be a perfect combination of their parents. And they tend to be closer to their friends- they spent their childhood inviting friends on holiday, and for tea every night. They share their problems and issues with their friends, and share their sense of humour with their parents.  

Friends without siblings that I spoke to said that they felt that they were closer to their friends, and their parents, and a couple pointed out that I never get too close to anyone outside of my family because I have my brothers. 

Which I absolutely agree with. 

So there are clearly points for and against both.

They also insisted that my relationship with Mowgli and Chip is unusual. I disagree. Siblings go through so much together- maybe that manifests itself in different ways- but it's so special nonetheless. 

I recently read a list of things that having brothers teaches you. I agreed with the first two, then it got silly. "Brothers teach you what you're looking for in a relationship." My brothers definitely didn't teach me that. My brothers taught me that men are disgusting behind closed doors, that if a lad doesn't like a girl, it doesn't matter how nice a person they are, they will be awful to her, and that being desperate and/or boring will never be attractive in a girl. They didn't teach me who I want to date. 

Anyway, I decided to make my own list of why siblings are brilliant...

1)  They keep your feet well and truly on the ground.

I have a big mole on my arm. It honestly doesn't bother me at all- mainly because I've spent my entire life having Mowgli and Chip make fun of it. They love it. When I returned from my year in Orlando and my best friends were saying they couldn't wait to hear all about it, my mum couldn't wait to see my face and my dad couldn't wait to catch up with me- my brothers went straight to the mole. They were so excited to be reunited with it. 

I spent my childhood hearing 'you can run, you can hide but you can't escape my mole' to the tune of Enrique Iglesias's song Escape. 

I will never, ever be arrogant.

2) They are your allies. 

Once, when I was at uni, I had a phone call from  Mowgli. I had been put on loud speaker. His voice was a little bit high and squeaky, you know how your voice goes when you're a bit angry and wanting to make a point? 

"Rebs, if I made the last cup of tea, and Mum and Dad both already made one, whose turn is it?" 


"Thank you!" He said, voice filled with triumph. "Everyone was saying it was my turn again. Come on Chip! Kettle on. See ya later." 

And so he was gone. 

I just told Mowgli's girlfriend this story. She turned to him and said: "You always ring Rebecca when you want to make a point! You do that to me as well." And went on to remind us all about the time she spelt scarf wrong and he rang me to get me to correct her.

3) They cover your back. 

When I told my mum I was writing this she reminded me of all the times that we've worked together to hide stuff from our parents. We took all the glass out of a picture once when Chip smashed it while our parents were on holiday. They didn't know for years. We also sellotaped a vase back together and turned it around after the boys had been playing football in the lounge. (Turns out Mum had banned that for a reason.) Then there was the time the ironing board went through the door....none of us can remember what we did to hide it, but we all agree it worked because our parents didn't know for so long. 

I picked both of them up from their football Christmas night out once because Mum had been so mad at them for throwing up in her car the year before, and I HATE anyone being mad at my brothers. I'd rather they were sick in my car. I can get annoyed at them. Nobody else. 

4) They know everything. 

And are very good to not bring it up at the worst moments. Mowgli and Chip know that I used to clip clop around in my Grandma's shoes pretending to be a teacher, they know that I've had some questionable boyfriends, that I still occasionally watch Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and that I used to constantly impersonate our French Life Holiday Rep Monique. Who was Northern. How irritating. 

They'll laugh about these things in the right company and keep them quiet the rest of the time. But it means that they understand me better than anybody else in the entire world. 

5) They will always be on your side. 

We were getting off the bus once when someone made a wholly unnecessary comment to Chip. Mowgli- easy-going, unassuming, very quiet Mowgli- told this lad that he would kill him before he spoke to his brother like that again. 

We can be mean to Chip- nobody else.

6)  They find things funny that nobody else would understand. 

Things about my parents, mainly. We have been known to call each other to immediately pass on something hilarious that either mum or dad have said. 

7) They understand our parents like nobody else. 

Our parents are insane. Really. They are funny and crazy and wise and opinionated and- it turns out- human. Only we understand what it's like to have been brought up by them and only we can laugh at stories from when we were little. And from now, in fact. 

Your siblings are always there- through everything. My brothers were there when I was a bossy five year old referring to them as "kids", when I lived in a dodgy fringe and a donnay jumper in the early noughties, when I used to make them do the bleep test when I ran my health club- fit not fat, (I was nine), when I brought my first boyfriend home, when I got my GCSE/A level/degree results, when I moved away to uni, they were at weddings, funerals and christenings, through huge celebrations and heart-breaking news, when I was leaving for my best friend's wedding and when I'm on the sofa in my jammies with my hair scraped back and embarrassing tv on. 

And they still want to know me. 

How brilliant is that?! 

These are the best people in the entire world and despite knowing every single thing about me and my life, still want to hang out with me, look after me, even. 

I recently heard some sad news, and the friend that told me said "tell your family you love them. You never know what's going to happen." 

I like to think that I'm quite good at that. I'm not big on elaborate displays of affection. I don't randomly text them out of the blue to say I love them, or share those "share if you love your brother' things on social media. I don't say it to them when we're sitting on the sofa, or when they call me to settle a spelling disagreement. 

But I squeeze them really, really tight when I see them. And will catch them just as they're walking past me and give them a hug. I ruffle their hair, and I laugh at their jokes, and I listen to them. (Although, ironically, Mowgli was trying to talk to me while I wrote this and I didn't realise he was talking to me and blanked him for quite a while, judging by his annoyance when my mind returned to the real world.) I ask about their football matches, and tell them if I've seen something I think they'll appreciate. And with every exchange- even if it's: "how's the mole today, Rebs?"- I am grateful that the best people in the entire world happen to be my little brothers. 

So maybe we should be considering Prince George a little more as we all get over excited about having a princess. Yes, we have a princess, but he has a sister. It's bigger for him than for anybody else in the entire world.  

Everything is about to change.

I hope he's as lucky as I am :) 

1 comment:

  1. Having half siblings has been a weird inbetween for me! I love them fiercely, but I am an only child with big brothers. I don't think they have had that much of an influence on my life since we have never spent all that much time together, and we see each other more as obligatory friends. That is the biggest part though - we don't have that normal sibling relationship but we have learnt to be more open to each other's opinions even when we disagree. It has made me a more positive person I think.