- I was 7.
- Kylie still loved Jason.
- Alice bands, shell suits and scrunchies were in vogue.
- I mastered handstands, cartwheels and cat’s cradle.
- My troll collection quadrupled to an outrageously impressive: 4.
- Wallace took Gromit on a grand day out and they ate lots of cheese.
- A big wall fell down in Berlin and all the grown-ups got very excited.
- My youngest brother Mike was born.
Admittedly, I didn’t necessarily greet the latter with the enthusiasm it deserved. I actually recall telling my parents in no uncertain terms to send him back.
My three other brothers failed to sympathise, as unlike me – they were delighted to have another man about the house.
After a year or two – I grew to love, adore and mother him.
Not just 2.4 children
There was a Simpsons’ poster on display in my father’s study for several years when I was growing up. It read –
“Remember, as far as anyone knows, we’re a nice normal family”.
I was never entirely sure what constituted ‘normal’ but I was pretty confident we weren’t it.
- Oli was a nerd.
- Chris sang. At all times.
- I was the only girl and as such – terribly misunderstood.
- Joe was into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, aliens and dinosaurs.
- Mike liked whatever Joe liked.
- Dad worked roughly 87 hours a week.
- Mum was the glue that held us all together.
There were certain logistical advantages to being the only girl – I got my very own room for example. I also got a lot of sympathy from strangers. “Four brothers? You poor thing. They must pick on you an awful lot”. God no. I was a red belt in Tae Kwon-Do, they wouldn’t dare.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing however:
- Oli’s bedroom was next to mine. He played Prodigy’s ‘Firestarter’ on repeat at 140 decibels for about 3 years. I played Boyzone.
- Chris decapitated my Tiny Tears doll. I punched him.
- Joe shot me with Nerf bullets. A lot. I locked him in the garden shed.
- Mike copied Joe. He also ended up in the shed.
Grown-ups (well, almost)
I’m pleased to report that Oli is still a nerd. A wildly successful one (they’re the best kind). As far as I know – he no longer listens to music that makes his ears bleed.
Chris no longer rips heads off dolls. He gets paid to buy stuff (genius I know) for the Royal Bank of Scotland.
I am still claiming to be misunderstood. On a positive note – I no longer have cause to punch my brothers or hold them captive.
Dad confiscated Joe’s Nerf gun on a Sunday afternoon in 1992, following an unfortunate incident with our neighbour’s pet goat. I don’t believe it was ever returned to him. He’s currently a Team Leader for Costa, loves playing host and is highly domesticated.
Mike no longer copies everything Joe does. He closely resembles a Wookiee and favours music that makes his ears bleed.
Sounds like a nice upbringing, ‘normal’ or not. Have you ever read any books by David Sedaris?, he has hilarious stories about his upbringing and siblings. They are too funny, exaggerated even.
It was a magnificent upbringing! I am very lucky. Haven’t read any books by David Sedaris, but will definitely look into it, thanks for the tip!
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