When I say bad things about my parents, people who don’t know them are always so quick to defend them. I assume this is because they think I’m young, so I obviously can’t appreciate my parents for the hard job that they have. Obviously. Age is sooo important that I can’t possibly actually know things until I’m at least 24.
Well, that’s simply bullshit. I know exactly who I’m dealing with. Case in point, a text message from my mother yesterday: “Can Sean come and live with you after this semester in school, starting January?” Sean, my 18-year-old brother, who has essentially lived in West Virginia his whole life, to move to Baltimore with his 22-year-old sister? Is she serious?
Very serious, I’m afraid. Her reasoning for this? “I can’t get him to do ANYTHING! Maybe you can.”
Now, let me inform you on some things, kind of like “What has happened thus far” moments. When I was 13, in a fit of rage, M1 sent me to live with my father. This was the best thing that ever could’ve happened to me, but I was 13 and I did not know this yet. Sean stayed there, and we saw each other less and less as the developmental years of our personalities passed. I do not know my brother well. He is all but a stranger. What I do know is that when I lived with M1 and him, she wouldn’t make him do anything, but with me, I had just about every chore and every responsibility. This comes as no surprise to me that he is lazy. What I want to tell her is, “Why don’t you just yell at him the way you used to do to me?”
But I don’t. Instead, I remain silent and turn to the parent I do love and appreciate; M2. Seeking M2’s advice, and also just in a “take a look at what crazy thing M1 is doing today”, I email her, not seeking her to get involved. M2’s heart is too big though, and she messages my father. This is futile, I already know this. He has not parented this child for 18 years. Why would now be any different?
But M2 believes in him in a way I can never understand, so when he comes back and says he won’t help, she’s pissed. Pissed at M1 for asking her financially unstable daughter to take in her brother, and pissed at my father for being the selfish dickhead he has always been.
I did think about it, by the way. The only way Sean could come live with me is if someone else paid his half of the rent, at least until he made enough money that he could do it himself. We’d get a two-bedroom apartment, which would be cheaper than what I pay now and which would make me happy cause I’d get to move out of my current disaster home. He wouldn’t need a license, because he could walk everywhere. I’d be tough on him, but not insanely so. I’d kick him out of the house if I found out he stayed in his pajamas all day. “Don’t come back until you have seven applications in your hand!” I’d say. If he wanted me to, I would go with him to look for a job somewhere. We’d walk around the city, and I’d say, “What about here?” “I don’t want to work here.” “You can’t be picky. If you don’t like it, work here and try to find another job in your free time.” I would cook and he would do dishes. I would make him do dishes. I’d turn off the tv, put on some music, and tell him that he has to stand there and do dishes until I say they’re clean enough, and then he can go back to watching tv. I’d take away his phone, too, if it came to that. He’d have chores like a normal human being, and he’d probably be on permanent trash duty.
But once he’s settled in, has a job and is doing well with chores and such, we’d go out and go do something fun. He’d be welcome to stay home and do nothing but video game, provided his room doesn’t smell and the shared space is clean. He’d get the mix of rules and independence he could never get anywhere else. And I would finally get to know my brother.