Surviving Youth

Sibling Rivalry

Growing up as the youngest of six kids, there was a certain amount of survival of the fittest. When I was in elementary school, my Mom worked as a nurse on the evening shift, which meant that my brother Jim and I were home alone between 3pm-6pm when Dad got home from work. During those three hours anything could happen.

My brother discovered that spit was a lethal weapon. When he wanted to really get my goat, he would wait until I had a shower and had just washed my hair, and he then he would spit in my hair. I was literally revolted.

There was also a torture technique where my sister and brother would pin me down, one of them would tickle me, and the other would let a string of spit dangle out of their mouth down towards my face. It truly was torture.

I would often phone my mother at work, and relay to her how I was fighting for my life. My Mom would tell me to write down my list of complaints and she would review it when she got home from work. We later found one of these lists, and laughed our heads off. It went something like this:

“Jim threatened to kill me 3 times, he spit in my hair, and he nearly punched me twice.” The numbers would be crossed out and increased as the threats mounted.

During one of the after school battles, Jim decided that he didn’t want me in the house for another minute, so he tossed me out the door. It was the middle of the winter in Montreal, and it was cold and snowy outside. I was only wearing my school tunic, and didn’t have a coat or boots on, let alone a hat or gloves. I banged on the door in my socking feet, and ordered him to let me back in. Jim’s response was to toss a pair or men’s work boots out at me.

I decided to walk over to my friend’s house to seek shelter. I was wearing my school tunic, and men’s boots. No jacket. I would have been around 8 or 9 years old at the time.

My friend’s mother was mortified. Quite frankly, I felt the goober torture was worse. Plus, I could add it to “the list” which would certainly mean there would be hell to pay. In any event, I stayed and my friend’s for several hours and waited until I saw my Dad walking up the street, so that I could regain entry into the house. I honestly don’t think that my brother got in trouble for that stunt, although he might have. The stupid thing about it was that when he did catch shit, I’d feel bad about it.

I had my own ways of fighting the never ending fight though. I would literally drive him crazy. For example, in grade 4 my music teacher had us repeat the following “ta ta tee tee ta tee tee ta ta”. Don’t ask me why. So when I got home from school, I sang this over and over again, to the point where brother was truly on the verge of killing me, I refused to stop.

On this particular occasion his penalty for fighting was to go out and shovel the driveway. I have to admit that I did feel bad for him however, as he shovelled I feverishly wrote out the ta ta tee tee ta song over and over again. By the time he was shovelling the front walkway, I was able to hold up the written song and mouth it to him.

Perhaps I did deserve to die.

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