I wish I’d been nicer

When you are a kid, you think about being “grown up” a lot. At least, I did. I used to think about the day when I would move out, have my own apartment where I would live by myself, and eat chocolate chips out of the bag whenever I wanted to, because I had bought them and they were mine. And if I felt generous, I would invite my siblings over to roast marshmallows in the fireplace – we did this once when we spent the night at my grandmother’s house – and watch movies and eat more chocolate chips.

The reality of adulthood is much different. I’m all grown up, but I have bills to pay, dishes to wash, laundry to do, and diapers to change. I now wish that I’d been nicer to my brother and sister, too.

I never thought about the consequences of growing up and moving out. After all, your siblings never stop being your siblings. When you are a kid, you’re thinking about how annoying they are right now, not how much you will miss them ten years from now when you all live in different states – or different countries. You don’t think about not having them around for holidays, or sharing them with in-laws. Or how you will feel when the little brother who hid an E.T. action figure in your bed to scare you and you were ready to kill when he was 8, goes back into a war zone with a newborn daughter at home.

The beauty of childhood is that there isn’t this thinking ahead to what may come. It’s mostly about the here and now, or the next future trip to Disneyland. Fifteen years ago, I didn’t think I’d miss the sister I locked in the garage. Or the brother who lost his big toenail and had to get a tetanus shot because he hid behind my door and I smashed him with it (the edge of the door lifted his toenail clean off – I swear I did not know that was going to happen).

I wish I’d argued less and shared more. I wish I hadn’t treated them like pests who hogged the bathroom and left their baseball stuff in the living room all the time. Of course, if I had been nicer, those two would have walked all over me. I had to defend myself, after all. Those turkeys. Hey! I’m feeling better now.

I’m going to go eat a bag of chocolate chips now. When they come home for Christmas, I will buy them each their own bag. Hey, I’m all grown up now. 🙂

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