I am the oldest of 4 children. I have a brother Brian and 2 sisters, Stephanie and Jaclyn.
We grew up together in 2 bedrooms. The boys room in blue, and the girls room in pink. As I said in my parents post, we had perfect balance and symmetry as a family. Well not quite symmetry. It went boy, boy, girl, girl, not girl, boy, boy, girl (like on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air) but you get the idea.
I am about 3 and a half years older than my brother which I think is just about the worst gap you can have. We were never really in the same phase of life growing up, but we were close enough that we always were expected to play together. And then Brian and Stephanie were about 2 and a half years apart, which is closer to what psychology says is ideal for development between too stage-separate and too competitively close. Then my baby sister Jaly was again about 4 years younger that Stephanie which was just bad because there is clearly an age and maturity difference great enough to cause major problems but it is not significant enough of a gap that the older sibling can be viewed as a parentified authority.
But we all survived and have remained on good terms. At this point in time we are all living in the same town again for the first time since I was in high school. As a guy who hasn’t made a whole lot of new friends as an adult, and has lost touch with most of my friends from childhood, I am very blessed to have had 3 siblings that have always been there for me.
So I am going to break them down briefly one by one. Starting with my sister Stephanie, because as a middle child she deserves Top billing every once in a while.
Growing up Stephanie and I were the least close. I shared a room with my brother and I was a full 10 years older than my baby sister so I did a lot of taking care of her. But Stephanie had been the little baby girl that stole all the attention me and my brother always got in trouble for picking on. Everyone always compared her to Michelle from full house. It was ridiculous.
I was almost exactly 6 years older than her. In fact, I remember I celebrated my birthday like 3 weeks early that year because our parents wanted to make sure my birthday wasn’t neglected if my mom was in the hospital having a baby that day as her due date was right around my birthday. She was born on March 25th. Which is actually the the date by the Shire reckoning thatFrodo and Sam made it to Mt. Doom and destroyed the One Ring (with the assist from Gollum) and was henceforth known as Gondorian New Year.
My sister likes to remind me that I literally picked her up by her head and swung her around by her hair. I don’t deny that probably happened. I don’t recall if it was in anger or in jest.
I can recall playing the fool for Stephanie and a bunch of her little girly girl friends on many occasions. I was that kind of big brother. That became slightly awkward when I got to college and suddenly those little girly girls were my sister’s high school cheerleader friend doing high school cheerleader things, and I was still playing the fool. Again the 6 year age difference meant I was in college and then getting married through most of Stephanie’s high school years. So it was kind of like I graduated from high school and Stephanie is 6th grade. So I was pretty busy for a while and then I suddenly look up and she is grown and graduating from high school and I didn’t even really realize it. Then I move to Missouri and I don’t even know if I had had so much as a phone conversation with her for 3 or 4 years. But when my son was born she agreed to move out to live with us and be my son’s nanny. It was crazy. She would attend to a baby all day and then go to work at Starbucks until 11pm. I don’t know how she did it.
She lived with us and having her around playing with my son as we watched him learn and grow day by day was the first time in our lives that Stephanie actually bonded. My son was sort of the first project we had to do together since “cleaning up the living room circa 1995.” And then the incredible happened. We moved back to Washington, and Stephanie decided to return to Missouri.
Of the 4 of us siblings, Stephanie is the most adventurous, the most likely to do her own thing and not care what anyone else thinks, and also the one who has the most friends. She has friends and knows people from many different walks of life because she doesn’t hesitate to try things she wants to do. She has a giant tattoo of our transition family crest on her leg. She also has turbulent relationships ar times. But that is the price of being diversified, not every relationship or endeavor is going to work out, much less last forever. But I tend to look at my every decision as being the last I will ever make. I want to believe things will endure lifelong and probably stick to things stubbornly that aren’t working just to maintain that false facade of permanence and perfection. Stephanie has no such compunctions. She had had some bridges burned. But she also has the ability to mend fences. No where is this lore appears to than with my wife. One of the things in life that I am most proud of is how well my wife has integrated into our family. She is a 5th child to my mom. She calls my mom: Mom. Stephanie and my wife might be best friends. And they have had some fights. Some real “I hate you, how could you, I can’t stand you” moments. One was this past Christmas Day. One aboit 2 weeks ago over the Nintendo. That only lasted a few minutes. The longest was a 2 week span in Missouri. After 2 weeks of increasing tension in our home, it was broken when they had to make up to make the 2000 mile 3 day journey along the Oregon trail (Stephanie and I made that same journey in only 2 days 3 years later.) And they did. And they can. They are sisters. And I love my sister for embracing my wife as family. I mean all things being equal, my wife would rather spend a given evening with my sister than spend it with me.
My sister Stephanie has done more to care for my youngest son in his 2 years of existence than I have as his father. He has a heart condition and it was Stephanie who spent long days nights at the hospital with my wife when the little guy had surgery. My wife and I were reflecting just yesterday that we have no idea how we could have managed and survived without her. She has been more essential and formative to the lives of my children than I have up to this point.
Of course at the moment my 2 year olds favorite ( Zia Stephanie is a very close 2nd, “the big (brother)” is 3rd and mom and dad are a distant 4th) is Zia Jaly. She literally follows him around playing with him for hours on end.
Jaclyn is my baby sister. I have called her Jaly (Jay- Lee) since she was in 3rd grade and she wrote her Name on a school paper JACLYN but the C and N were in soft pencil so in the reflecting sunlight they were hard to see, so it looked like she had just written JALY. And I have called her nothing but Jaly ever since. My wife started doing it to and now even my mom and Stephanie sometimes calls her that.
As I said in my parents post my mom and I wanted to name her Jordan, but my dad wasn’t having it and she was nameless when I first met her. I remember that day quite vividly.
I think it was a Thursday because I had taken the bus after school to the YMCA for basketball practice. Then my grandpa picked me up from practice and took me and my brother and sister to the hospital to see the new “Baby Daltoso.” It probably spoiled my grandparents. Dinner plans because in addition to being my sisters birthday January 24th was also my grandparents anniversary. It is also the date I posted the post about my grandparents so there is synergy (or coincidence) in this somewhere.
My sister was jaundiced so I had to see her in the nursery under the lights in this clear plastic bassinet . It actually was not a happy experience for me because of that. It was a very technical/ industrial medical setting, and It felt, well frankly, sick and icky in a sci-fi outbreak movie kind of way. . I was reminded of that for the first time in 30 years when My son was in the NICU after he was born. (This is part of what necessitated Stephanie being at the hospital more often than me while my young son had to be there).
But all of that ickiness vanished as soon as The finally named Jaclyn came home. Unlike with my other sister and brother I was old enough to take care of Jaly. And I did.
I remember very distinctly the first time Jaly came home from the hospital. She was in her little baby carrier and I was sitting with her by the window in our living room and as I looked alternately at her and then out the window I opined aloud at how my life was about to change now that she was in it. And change it was; mostly of the diaper variety at first. But I think I really became parentified over Jaly. Stephanie I was only aware of to make sure she didn’t get into my stuff. But Jaly I was taking responsibility for raising. She is the first person I ever felt I had sway or influence upon and so I willing took on responsibility for that (which I am normally loath to do).
So because of that Jaly and I were very close and I do think I rubbed off on her.
I’m not sure that is always a great thing. I can see some of my not so great traits in her at times and think “Oh no, that sounds like me. whine.”
Jaly was always very smart. I don’t know if she was a straight A student but Remember thinking she was always smarter than me. She seemed to get along better with all the teachers of which I ran afoul. She went to Gonzaga. Which is the school everyone said I should go to and the only school I know for certain I would never go to.
Jaly and I are very similar in a lot of ways which makes sense as we share DNA. But one aspect that has been a defining characteristic for us both is that we have yet to figure out how we can best help the world. Often we both feel the best way we can help is to stay out of the way and not muck things up. We talk about this from time to time.
Jaly and I used to talk a lot. I have printed emails from when I was in college and she was in elementary school still. We were very close until ai got married and moved to Portland with my wife, less than 6 months after our father died. That was influence on Jaly I didn’t intent but it was pretty impactful at the time and not for the better. It created some tension between my wife and Jaly for a while. But I think at this point we have all moved around the world and ended up coming back to be with each other. Jaly has lived in Italy on 3 separate occasions. Of that I am rather jealous. She has traveled to other part of the globe like Iceland, land of Fire and Ice, or more accurate Volcanoes covered in ice that Erupts and causes massive mudslides that trap you and force you to wait for the lava flows to slowly get to you and burn your face off. Of that I am less Jealous.
Then there is my brother Brian. Brian and I shared a room for the first half of our lives. I remember the first night he and I shared a room together. He was probably about 3 or 4 years old. And I thought it would be a great idea to treat it like a sleep over or a camp out and tell ghost and monster stories once the lights went out. Brian ran upstairs to my parents within like 5 minutes of my Harry beast in the woods story. But he was back the next night and I was forbidden from telling scary stories and were roommates basically until I got married.
Of course once I got married I joked that I just upgraded my roommate situation. Not a whole lot has changed. My roommate is still left handed. Still leaves clothes all over the floor. Still stays up later than I do. Still beats me at video games. Still likes to cover the walls of our room with their “artwork.” Still likes to annoy me just for fun. But there are some definite improvements. Can’t think of them right now though.
At this point in time Brian could beat me up. He was actually a college athlete. He ran track at St.Martin’s in Olympia. He is a legitimate grown up man. But I am a few inches taller and when I was 16 and he was 12 I picked him up over my head and body slammed him WWF style, and he still remembers it. But honestly working out with my brother in the days when I we just out of college was probably when I was in the best shape of my life.
Brian and I haven’t been as close since we got married and upgraded roommates on each other. He definitely could write a tell all book about me. But although it would be damaging it would still be boring, so not much profit in it for him, thankfully.
Brian was a freshman in high school when I was a senior. We finally had achieved a common level of existence and it was actually a lot of fun. I almost wish I could have failed my senior year to have another year of high school with my brother.
I guess we are now at the same level of life again. Dads. Husbands. Grumpy 30 somethings who have to get to work.
Brian was always a little more nondescript than me. He became a practical accountant just like our father. Filing taxes, balancing the books, these are pretty universal and useful skill sets. The type of skills I have always been horrible at. Brian has had his share of Daltoso rule moments, but oddly they are kind of funny because they seem out of character for him, while for me they basically defined my character.
I honestly think Brian and I should be closer. As I said we are at the same stage of life. We live in the same town. We have lunch together occasionally and we always lament we don’t get together more often.
But we both have families and we are both trying to be good family men. It’s our similarities that keep us apart in that respect.
On the other hand given how much my sons’ love their Zias (which is aunt in Italian btw) I see my sisters almost every other day at this point in life.
Throughout the course of writing this 40 for 40 it’s been easy , fun, and quite natural to tell stories about the good old days. . When it comes to expressing sentiments it has been much harder. So I will just leave with this:
I am very proud, grateful , and blessed for my brother and my sisters and I love them.