One of the things that being a parent has shown me is how disconnected my thinking can be. As a parent of 2 I have an utter disconnection between my expectation of their behaviour and relationship, and my entire experience to date of siblings (mine own and others).
So, when No. 1 came along, he’s very much his own person, but with elements of me and A. clearly visible. No. 2 comes along, he’s also his own person, with elements of me and A. clearly visible, but is completely different from No. 1. I don’t know why I was/am surprised by this. I am very different from both my sisters, who in turn are very different from one another. My wife is very different from her sister. All my friends at school are different from their siblings. All my friends’ kids are different from one another. My many Aunts and Uncles on my Dad’s side are all completely different. Sure there is a strong familial resemblance. You wouldn’t question that No 1 and No 2 are brothers, yet they are so different. I’m surprised that it surprises me, but it does. Somehow I expected someone – especially of the same gender – born of the same stock to be the same.
But it hasn’t stopped there. I also expect them to be able to get along and play nicely (like A. and I do). Where does this expectation come from? I can’t imagine anyone I know of that age playing voluntarily with their sibling, expect perhaps a specific card or board game. When I was that age, friend’s brothers or sisters were largely to be ignored. If I think of No 1’s school friends, there is no example of any I can imagine playing with their sibling. I think I imagined that brothers would automatically be friends somewhere, but I have no idea where this notion came from.
I rub along well enough with my sisters now, but when I was growing up given the choice between doing almost any other activity or spending time with them, I know which I chose! When I was with them, I seem to recall being extremely annoying to them. Mind you, that hasn’t changed.
The one exception to this rule, at least when I was at school (and a teenager!!), was my friends with younger sisters. These magical captivating creatures were usually far more fun to be with then their boring older brothers!