Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Peanut Gallery Therapy

My brothers and I fought with each other for recreational purposes.

This was pre-game boy cable 24-7 TV stone age time. Instead of phoning other parents to schedule play dates or hyper structuring activities such that we had nothing to do with each other, our parents would throw all three of us sans protective sunscreen or excessive padding outside to entertain ourselves. Trolling the neighborhood for other similarly displaced youths, we’d organize a game of hide and seek or freeze tag or kick the can if there was even one other non related person involved.


If there were no additional people to play with, the dynamics of our group became unhealthy. Two younger boys against a bully big sister who idolized Lucy Van Pelt did not stand much of a chance, especially since they had not ever considered colluding against me. “Let’s play circus!” Guess who got to be the Lion Tamer. “Let’s put on a show.” Guess who got to be the star. “Let’s play story!” Guess who WANTED to be the big bad wolf. Guess what happened in my story until Mom would intervene to make me “play fair.”

I never wanted to play fair. I wanted life unfair in my favor of course!

Then one day it was raining and we couldn’t go outside. There was nothing on television and we’d eaten and Mom had to pay some bills so she sent us to our rooms to play. After a few minutes in my own room, I wandered down the hall looking for something to do.

I saw my two brothers setting up a hot wheel set in their room. They had a charger and it was really cool the way they could get those cars to fly around the track. It was beautiful and huge and they were lining up and dividing cars for a big race. I asked if I could play.

It would make a good story if they had said No and why. Alternatively, if they had said Yes and I had had a moment of epiphany, it would have made good copy. I could have recognized I wanted to be part of their lives and a friend, not just a sister, but this was pre even Phil Donahue or Dr. Phil or Oprah.

They said yes and I immediately plunged into trying to redistribute the cars to get the ones I wanted, muscling the younger one out of a few choice racers, leaving him the scratched police car, white convertible and the green van with yellow seats and orange stripes. When he complained, I relented a bit and gave him all the fire trucks.

Oddly enough, he was not moved by my generosity. I wound up giving him the black car. Of course it was the best one to hug the track and I made several offers to get it back but he wasn’t interested, even when I offered everything else.
We did however spend an afternoon racing cars and I remember my brothers saying “Let’s do that again.” I agreed, and we did, and it was fun.

“Why did you tell us that story?” My son demanded, looking as annoyed as if I had assigned six extra pages of reading for homework or asked him to vacuum his room.

“Because I want you to play with your sister.”

“But she doesn’t like cars.”

“I don’t mean it has to be cars. It can be dinosaurs.”

“But I don’t want to share dinosaurs with a girl, it’s a dumb idea. Dinosaurs aren’t for girls. Everyone knows this.” He protested.

“Look. I want you and your sister to learn to play now so you become more than brothers and sisters, you become friends, like I am with my brothers and sister now.”

“But you’re grownups.”

“But it started then.”

“I don’t want to.” He humped.

I was tired. I was tired of talking. “Do it because I said so or the dinosaurs go away.” I growled.

“Come on F. Let’s play dinosaur.” He said in his most beckoning voice. It may have started because of a threat but within minutes, he and she were deep in a storyline about the T-rex that could fly and the brave stegosaurus that stopped the flying dino from eating her friends by offering a sacrificial PB&J and ice cream instead.

Lucy Van Pelt flexed her muscles. “It’s good to be back.”


Ello said...

I love that story! and I love that Lucy showed up again in the end! Seriously, without threats I would be a completely ineffectual mother.

Ingrid Erika said...

Sounds like me and my two brothers building forts and catching racers for the neighborhood snake races in the army ditch's when we lived on the air force base. Oh those were the days!! I just wish mine weren't fighting so much. Now I know where the gray hairs come from! Thanxs!, Erika

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