I remember the day we moved into the new house on a big, brand-new housing estate. I was two at the time. I found the whole moving thing confusing and a tiny bit scary (I’ve never been much good with new things). It was a good job that my brother was there with me that day. He was nearly four and that, to my eyes, was practically a grown-up. He was brave and clever and knew all sorts of stuff. He wasn’t always nice to me but he told me that big brothers were supposed to be a bit mean to help the younger ones to toughen up and I believed him.
We went outside the house together and he showed me what would be the back garden when Daddy had time to work on it. I remember he put his arm around my shoulder and looked down at me with an expression that I had seen once or twice before, and that worried me every time I saw it. He said I didn’t have to worry about anything. The only thing that would hurt me in this new house was him. He looked around to make sure Mummy and Daddy weren’t in sight, then he reached down and hit me in the tummy. Hard. Three times.
I screamed. Mummy came running out and asked what had happened and why I was holding my tummy and crying. My brother said that he didn’t know, that I was like it when he found me. He said he had been looking at a cat in the shed when he heard me scream and ran to see what it was. Mummy said what a good, caring brother he was and how lucky I was to have him. She didn’t see his ‘tell’ – his tongue pushing his cheek out. I did.
Later, I tried to tell Mummy and Daddy what had really happened that day, and how it was becoming a regular thing. Their response was to tell me off for making up lies. Telling stories, they called it.
Later, after our sister was born, we boys gradually became somewhat closer. We were less than two years apart in age and I could do almost all the things he could – except ride a bike and tie my shoelaces. It took me a long time to learn both of those, although my reading and stuff were better than his which made up for it. Over time, the thumpings stopped and we got up to all sorts of mischief together. Sadly, dear little sister made life harder for us when she turned out to be a real snitch. Every time we did something wrong when Mummy and Daddy were out, she told them about as soon as they got back. My brother’s job was to persuade her to stop telling on us, which was not easy because – well, everybody knows you’re not allowed to hit girls. So that didn’t work. My job was to tell our side of the story so we didn’t get punished. Again, I was always accused of lying, making up stories. So that didn’t work either.
More than six decades have passed since those days and here I am still making up stories. True, they tend to be longer and more complex these days, but I believe that it’s thanks in large part to the training and experience gained as a boy, that I now have ten books on my bookshelf with my name on the spine!
Important things, families.
This was written in response to Kreative Kue 273 published on this site.