Twenty-three years ago, my husband and I thought it would be a good idea to have children. So we had one. Unfortunately, it took five more years to decide that we could manage another one. After that we apparently needed nine more years to get over that experience and then we had two of them within sixteen months of each other — so we wouldn’t have time to come to our senses, I guess. The last one made an appearance three years after that through an unnatural chain of events.
Despite the age differences of my children, somehow they have managed to carve out satisfying relationships with their siblings. It is interesting to note, however, the peculiar medium that they use to express their affection for one another.
The oldest one used to employ ice cubes to express his affection for his younger brother. Every chance he got, he’d sneak up on his brother and slip an ice cube into whatever article of clothing the boy was wearing at the time. That boy never went to bed with pajamas on until his older brother was out of the ice cube phase. Since my oldest doesn’t live with us any longer, their brotherly relationship is carried out over the internet through online games. Sometimes I think this is a strange way to keep in touch, but truthfully they talk to each other that way more often than I can reach either of them by phone.
My ten-year old has a very special bond with my eighteen-year old. The only time they see each other now is on college breaks, so they use that time to strengthen their bond by using headless, naked Barbie dolls.
These dolls have been multiplying in our house, I swear. We have no Ken dolls, so I’m not sure how this is happening. There is, however, a neighbor boy who comes to play at our house from time to time. This boy is an only child and I believe he doesn’t quite know what to make of my daughter’s room full of dolls, stuffed animals, and pastel colored ponies. So whenever he comes to visit, he manages to undress every doll he can get his hands on. He decapitates them, and hides their heads. Yeah… he’s got issues. But this is how we have come to possess a surplus of naked, headless Barbie dolls.
Each time my college-aged boy comes back on break, there is always a chorus line of headless naked dolls lovingly lined up on his bookshelf by his younger sibling as a welcome joke. Of course, when he sees them, he immediately tries to find a way to retaliate. Once, he propped his brother’s mattress up against a wall, vertically, and although that was easy for my 6’ 5” son, the ten-year old couldn’t figure out how to get it back down again without it landing on him. He needed to enlist his dad’s help.
Hours later, the bare-naked, brainless, Barbies showed up on top of his older brother’s computer monitor in suggestive poses. In the morning, they were duct taped to the younger one’s ceiling.
One night, I saw the older one stomping down the hallway with a fistful of nude Barbies. He looked like a petulant bridesmaid walking down the aisle in his boxer shorts carrying a hideous bouquet. He stopped in front of the younger one’s room while he was sleeping. You could see him calculating just how much trouble he’d get into if he was to wake the boy up using one of several devious, meant-to-make-him-scream methods. I aggressively discouraged that idea, so he merely placed the headless dolls into bed with the sleeping jokester.
One day, I know, someone with no sense of humor will show up at our door and spy a half-dozen headless, naked Barbies flying around merrily in macabre joy while hanging from our ceiling fan. Hopefully, this will not be the kind of person for whom first impressions mean a lot.