Saturday, 9 January 2010


I remember reading somewhere that you have the longest relationship with your siblings. Pretty obvious really as you tend to be born around the same time, hang out in a shared building during childhood and hopefully die around the same time. But it's not just about time is it? Siblings share a dollop of genetic material and a very similar upbringing. No one else in my life has that.

If I had been brought up by my parents without my older sister and younger brother present for dilution of parenting and moral support, I am not sure how I would have managed! The adult to child ratio was definitely in our favour. We had a lot of mischief to get on with so decoys were essential. My sister's teenage rebellion provided much needed cover for my brother's and my wrongdoings for years but mostly I think we worked on a rota system.

Of course we had some sibling rivalry rattling about, enhanced by our parents need to continually - and sometimes brutally - compare us and in a family where 'healthy relationships' were not readily modelled for us, I am sure we were pretty mean to each other at times. I do remember hitting my brother over the head with a glass bottle, for example. And I do also remember fighting with him outside school once and using the excuse, 'but he's my brother' as absolute unchallengeable justification and amazed that teachers thought they had any right to intervene with a sibling fracas! I wonder if sibling rivalry can ever be 'healthy' because I'd say us three still got unhelpful twinges up until quite recently.

And then there's the order of birth stuff. I have read the eldest is meant to conform bigtime(jobs like police, pilot), the middle is meant to be the communicator (become a teacher, counsellor) and the youngest is meant to rebel and be most likely to opt out of mainstream. I have also read something that states this generalisation was a nonsense because it was based entirely on sibling perception.i.e. the eldest seemed more conforming to the youngest (their greater age alone might make them seem thus)...not an impartial outsider's view. However, with the exception of my big sister who I have never seen in a uniform (except Brownies - which she eventually got kicked out of) it sort of works a bit for us. My brother is completely 'off the main road' (visiting Venus perhaps). There is a family joke about him driving up to my mum's house in his Mercedes and saying 'hop in mum, I've come to take you out to lunch'. I'm not sure that would be funny to anyone outside our family but it gets me every time! He's a musician still living a very 'free' life in Brighton.

My sister and I joke about a Venn diagram, where we overlap and where we don't and there are undoubtedly areas labelled 'just Molly', 'just Mike' and 'just Claire'. But that three-way overlap in the middle is apparent when we all get together - the overlap that means we have free-flowing fun and a considerable amount of laughter! I cherish that!


  1. I also want to share another brother story. He arrived after us at our father's funeral by taxi with his delightful Spanish girlfriend. We stared from afar and someone said, 'I don't think I have ever seen Mikey get out of a taxi before.' and then someone else added, 'Do you think he knows that he's meant to pay?'

  2. I'm the eldest of three, I have two brothers, I agree with you about the three way overlap in the middle otherwise we are quite different. :)

  3. Your brother sounds completely out of it! Great fun! I am eldest myself, I have conformed big time. Not sure if that's good or bad.....

  4. I have two brothers but with only the tiniest area of overlap and probably label that childhood.

    Jane's family has circles that would almost lie on top of each other - but that's the Welsh for you!

  5. As one of the siblings, there is so much I could comment here that I kind of have to not comment at all! Let's all get together soon for some venn-diagram-overlap-collective-consciousness fun. Doesn't happen enough xxx

    P.S. I also had a majorette uniform and a Little Chef uniform. I'm barely out of them.

  6. Molly - great story but do you think you might take the p*** out of your brother a little too readily as he is a very clever, talented chap that's survived truley away from mainstream?

    Akelamalu - the relationship with siblings seems to be as random as meeting the general public from what I have gleaned from different people- i.e. absolutely no guarantee of getting on in adulthood - I feel lucky to connect with mine so well but we did have to work at it a bit.

    Codge - I love my brother's quirkiness - it takes us to places many wouldn't venture!!! I feel I have spent a long time struggling with conformity...the mainstream gives you a loud and regular reprimand for not partaking. Perhaps you could explain how I could appear to conform when it would serve me well. I feel we both might have things to learn from each other.

    Mark - ditto my reply to Akelamalu. Love the idea of a family with circles laid on top of each it ever claustrophobic? Has there been some opposites and different life starts attracting there with you and Jane? I am always fascinated in a nerdy way by what gets people together.

    Claire -try harder
    P.S. Oh are actually a unifrom girl predictable

  7. My brother once dragged me by the arms through a small pile of cat poop.

    I'm biding my time -- it's been over 35 years now! -- and when I get him back, it will be a beautiful thing.


  8. The worst sibling story I ever heard was a sister that used to pin her younger brother down and dribble into his mouth. In terms of global injustice and worldwide teribbleabonibleawfulugliations it's lightweight but when you're 7 it's evil.

  9. Must be wonderful. I used to look under the stairs and in cupboards when I was a child but never found any siblings.

  10. you think 67-41= 26 we might be siblings?

    Are you having a lovely birthday celebration?

  11. I don't know, I'm like an only child, They'd all run away by the time I turned up late. So we had curious relationships where some of them felt more like uncles sometimes, My middle brother became a bit to parentlike in my mid to late teens, which made me very stroppy with him, but he was fairly boorish with me from the outset (I love the big beardy weirdy now). I ended up having the most brother-ish relationship with my nephew who's only 4 years younger than me. My eldest brother moved to Canada when I was six (he ran away to sea at 16), so I've maybe spent 2 months of my life in his company. My sister is the nearest in age, 18 years older, we get on great and always have, In fact I used to believe she was my mum, and the whole "aged parents" thing was an elaborate ploy to stop anyone realising she'd been a naughty girl. This was actually wishful thinking, based mainly on her boyfriend having an E-type and owning an air rifle.

  12. you're a novel or perhaps a soap opera or perhaps a situation comedy.

  13. i think birth-order & sibling relationships are fascinating. i read somewhere that no two children really grow up in the same family b/c the situation of the parents' lives and the group dynamic is changing with every new addition, etc; which is how you get such varied viewpoints, i suppose. (hmmmmmnm...just wondering what that author would say about twins??!)

    much to ponder, eh?! always good, onna monday! :)

  14. It's funny the birth ordering stuff, I have what we call an eighties grunge family, 4 kids in this order.

    1) Quiet
    2) Loud
    3) Quiet
    4) Loud

    just needs a chorus and a middle eight and it could be the Pixies.

    Incidentally Molly, Beth (No 2) did the Briggs Myers the other night she's an ENFJ same as me, (we're both loud stroppy and a bit hysterical)


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