Panorama of San Bernardino

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Everybody loves Annie

People underestimate sibling rivalry. I am watching an old episode of Everybody Loves Raymond and watching the dynamic between Raymond and his older brother Robert. Raymond is the golden youngest child and Robert, no matter how hard he tries, can never eclipse him in his parents' eyes.

Growing up, everybody loved Annie. She was the youngest and my mother's favorite. She could do no wrong. My twin Jackie and I could never compete with Annie's long straight brown hair and smile. We had short frizzy hair and crooked smiles. When Annie was around, Mom lit up. She was nicer and calmer with Annie. I think it was because Annie reminded Mom of her own mother due to Annie's passive and sweet disposition. "Even as a baby, she never cried," was Mom's constant refrain.

 Jackie was a fighter and fireball of a child and I was an outspoken advocate always arguing for our rights. Annie always just gave in. She cleaned her room and did her chores while Jackie and I made a mess and were always reading or watching TV instead of cleaning.

Annie had her own room with a lock on it (after we had killed her favorite doll, Mom got her a lock). Jackie and I shared. We had twin beds that my dad had built in. I knew this was unfair. I was the oldest by a majestic nine minutes. No matter now much I argued my point, Mom wouldn't budge. Jackie and I were twins so we had to share. That was the ruling.

Similarly, when Mom bought us bikes, there was only one cherry apple red beach cruiser. Of course, because God has a sense of humor, Kmart only had two other beach cruisers, both yellow. Jackie and I grimaced but we didn't want to wait so we got our yellow beach cruisers and for the next two or three years, the boys on the block called us the banana bike twins. We paid Annie back by ramming her pretty red bike into a tree while laughing maniacally.

Likewise, when Mom saved up her waitressing tips to buy us fur coats for winter (coats as adults that we would call the hooker jackets), there was one white and two brown. Of course, you can guess it, Annie got the white one.

As an adult, the roles continue. Family dynamics shape you more than you realize. Jackie is still a fighter and uses it professionally to her advantage standing up for the rights of special education children as a teacher. And Annie, she's a Mom and a good one. She will do anything for her kids. And that sweet disposition is still sweet but she has strength underneath the smile.

And me? I think that none of it scarred me. It was just how it was. Plus, I wouldn't have as much to write about without my parents' mistakes would I? And I probably wouldn't be a lawyer. Yet, I still think I should have won that motion for my own bedroom.

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