When I was five, we did everything together. Some days we would play house, other days doctor, and every once in awhile we would play spies or some other children’s game devised by ingenious five and six year olds. The problem that came with het being my partner in crime was that there was always a catch. In the game Doctor, for instance, I would be on the death bed and Abbey would miraculously give me the special lollipop to ensure eternal life. In House, I would be the child that needed all the attention from the “goddess” of a mother, Abbey. And, of course, in Spies I would always be the mastermind doing evil while my saintly sister swooped in and caught me from destroying the city right in the nick of time. When we played, I was always the sibling with less power; I was always the worse person; I was the weaker person. Generally, I was the one to get the short end of the stick.
Growing up with Abbey was difficult at times. We would fight more often than we agreed, and when we did agree, it would be a result of me sacrificing anything and everything I desired. In retrospect, this was destined to happen. We were both competitive by nature, both fighting for attention of Mom and Dad, and, more importantly, we were only twenty-four months a part in age. Being younger, I had no authority or say in anything we did. I was obviously less intelligent, worse at doctor, and clearly not worthy of being a hero of any game. All of my ideas were simply out of the question and deemed ridiculous. For instance, if my sister and I were watching TV, and I wanted to watch a show such as SpongeBob, SpongeBob would immediately become the single worst show to ever air. If only I realized how unworthy I was to make such a bold choice!
I remember one of the first times I stood up to the dictator. It was about midday when my mom had offered to take us somewhere for lunch. Abbey and I walked away to another room to discuss the possibilities for lunch, and, instantly, Abbey demanded that we go to Burger King, the most awful fast food restaurant still in business. I immediately disagreed. Like any normal person, I wanted to go to McDonald’s. How could one resist the salty fries, the incredible playground, and the famous golden arches? Unfortunately, I was not accustomed to whining so I had no chance of winning the debate. I had always given in to Abbey’s opinion. I simply did not understand the process of convincing someone my perspective was correct so, naturally, I did what I had seen Abbey do so often to get what she wanted; I breathed in a deep breath and yelled at her. She was in complete shock that I had the audacity to do such a thing. She looked at me strangely for a second, processed what I had done, and yelled at me in return, much louder than I had. Immediately, I was staring at defeat, but it was too late to back down now. I had spent too much energy and too much time in this war to wave the white flag. I held my ground shouting insults at her while she returned the favor.
This battle for the title of Queen or King was far from over. The quarrel eventually turned physical. She would punch me, and I would pull her hair. She sank her teeth into my forearm, and I dug my nails into her side. Right before I was about to kick her with all my might, the real monarch walked in from the other room: my mother. My mom’s eyes scanned the two of us with utter disgust. I could see the steam come out of her ears as the kettle inside her whistled. Her blood boiled with anger. Abbey and I looked at each other, gulped, and covered the sides of our head so Mom would not successfully detach our ears from our heads as she had tried so many times before when we had misbehaved. The fear of her destroying us was enough to stop us from fighting, but that was not enough for my mother. She dragged us both by our ears to our rooms for time-out. I am not sure what she said to Abbey; perhaps she was praising her for teaching me where my place was in the family, perhaps not. All I know is that my mother yelled at me loudly and hysterically. My mom was infuriated because I had not used my words to express my emotions, but she was even more upset that I had hit a girl! A girl! To me, a five-year-old boy, what matter did it make? Was it all right for her to hit me because she was a girl hitting a guy? The fact that girls are supposed to be treated differently and with more sensitivity than boys took me many years of similar fights with Abbey to completely understand. In all honesty, this revelation was probably a blessing for me to learn at such a young age, even though I despised that this information was true.
For some reason, when I see this picture, I am reminded of this one instance. This memory may seem insignificant to most; to me it is the epitome of my childhood. This situation explains why I am the person I am today. Whether I like to admit it or not, Abbey has helped me to develop humility, patience, and even compassion; I gained humility from the times I thought I was the most talented in some activity only to be surpassed by Abbey, patience from the times I wanted to pull her hair out but had to resist the temptation, and, most importantly, compassion in order to better understand my sister’s point of view so we did not actually kill each other. My childhood consisted of many of stories such as this- stories where the two of us tried to strangle each other solely from our competitive nature, but through the ups and downs of the rollercoaster relationship we share, I have learned to love her, and she has learned to put up with me.
As I look at the picture, sure, I think of our fights, our disagreements, and our occasional dislike of each other, but the memories that stand out most are all the great times we had playing together and being near each other. For obvious reasons, I become emotional seeing pictures such as this one, especially now that my sister has been away for three weeks experiencing new things during her freshman year of college without me. For so long I had denied that I would miss her torturing me; I figured we had not done anything together for so long, just the two of us, that it would no longer matter if she was not living with us. I could not have been any more incorrect. Abbey is one of the greatest sisters any sibling could have. I miss her incredibly, I love her, and I would even return to being the near-dead patient waiting for Abbey to save me just to be around her once more. This year will be one of the hardest years since she has moved away. I wish I had not taken my tyrant for granted.